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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gustavo/Padernacht Debate on BronxTalk

Here's the link to Monday night's debate on BronxTalk between Gustavo Rivera and Dan Padernacht in the race for the Democratic primary in the 33rd SD.  BronxTalk - August 30, 2010

For more than fifteen years, BronxTalk has been seen live each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67. It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at bronxnet.org. Produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available at blip.tv; search for "BronxTalk." 

Response to 'Who Will Save the Bronx?'

BxNN guest blogger Gregory Lobo-Jost posted this comment to our news roundup earlier today. It's in response to an article in Crain's, called "Who Will Save the Bronx?" I thought it was worth re-posting here.  -Jordan Moss
I had just finished reading the current issue of Crain's on my lunch break when I saw this link to Greg David's story. Here is the somewhat lengthy comment I posted in response:

First off, the data Crain's uses in their most recent issue for 2010 is based on a book from last year. I think it may be more prudent to wait for real data before jumping to some of your conclusions.

In terms of the lack of a rebound in population, one must look at the number of properties destroyed in the Bronx during the 1970s, and the earliest attempts to rebuild devastated neighborhoods. Perhaps if we bulldozed the Charlotte Street single family ranch style home developments of the 1980s and replaced them with five and six floor apartment buildings like were there before their destruction, we might get back to the same population. It's not as if there are many vacant lots waiting to be developed in the Bronx -- just ride the 4 train up Jerome Ave and see how many new developments there are. No other borough had even close to the same level of destruction, so the rebound should be applauded, not criticized.

Often I feel down about the Bronx ranking last in a number of categories such as income and low wage workers, but this is not surprising at all. Many of the neighborhoods in the other boroughs where low wage workers used to live have become too expensive for them. If it weren't for relatively low rents in the Bronx, NYC would already be something of a boutique/resort city (think Jackson Hole, Aspen or the Hamptons) where low wage workers have long commutes because they can't afford to live near their service economy jobs. Is it the fault of the Bronx that Manhattan and Brooklyn have become too expensive for low wage workers to live there? Of course not. Thank God for the Bronx, or more of these workers would be living in New Jersey!

As for the "Shops at the Armory" proposal, it would have added more jobs (though the net increase might have been lower than expected after stores on Kingsbridge and Fordham Road closed in competition) but wouldn't help improve on stats like median income, percent of households paying 50% of their income on rent, or percent of families living in poverty. The median income in Bronx hasn't moved between 1999 and 2008, meaning an inflation adjusted drop of more than 20%! There are smarter job investments to be made in a borough that desperately needs them.

In conclusion, there are a number of good stats to look at in relation the Bronx, but Crain's did not consider them in their report. For instance, we have become something of a Mecca for immigrants from West Africa, and our overall percent of foreign born residents is going up faster than any other borough -- also likely due to cheaper rents. We are the only non-border county in the nation with more than 50% Latino population, and are probably the second most diverse county in the City after Queens. We've also probably added more mosques per capita in the past decade -- and none of them have drawn a protest!

Borough President Appearing on NY1 Tonight

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. will be appear on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” tonight, where he'll discuss a variety of Bronx, city and state issues. The show is broadcast at 7 p.m. and repeated at 10 p.m.

City Hall News Ranks Council Members

Who's the most powerful City Council member representing the Bronx? It's Annabel Palma, according to a list ranked by City Hall News that came out last month. Palma was number 3 on a list of 50 city reps (Christine Quinn was not included, since as Council Speaker she was automatically ranked the most powerful member).

The bi-monthly political paper based their choices on a formula that considered five factors: the number of bills the Council Member has passed, the number of bills they've introduced, the number of committee hearings they've chaired this year, how significant those committees are, and the amount of member item money they've scored.

Here are the complete (Bronx) rankings. The full list of all 50 Council members and how they fared was in the July 28 edition of City Hall News

#3--Annabel Palma
#6--James Vacca 
#14--Maria del Carmen Arroyo
#17--G. Oliver Koppell
#24--Melissa Mark-Viverito
#31--Joel Rivera
#47--Fernando Cabrera 
#48--Larry Seabrook

We were surprised to see Joel Rivera's name at number 31 out of 50, since he holds the important  position of Majority Leader. According to the list, Rivera has passed 2 bills and has introduced 13 since he succeeded his father, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, in the 15th Council District back in 2001 (Palma, by comparison, has passed 11 bills and introduced 102 since she took office in 2003).

What's Going On?

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 31

With the Bronx continuing to head many "worst of" lists, Crain's wonders who will save it.

A NY Post reporter kayaks the Bronx River, and likes what she sees.

The Bronx is home to a growing number of DVD and video stores specilizing in Nigerian-made movies. The film industry there is called "Nollywood."

Councilman Jimmy Vacca is supporting a bill which would force the city to address the rising raccoon population in the outer boroughs.

In his weekly column, the Daily News' columnist Bob Kappstatter calls out Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera for skipping a televised debate. We wonder what annoys Rivera more - the criticism of her record or being called "Snooki." Kappstatter also suggests Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the Bronx Democratic party boss, is loath to endorse Gustavo Rivera in his race against State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr., in case Espada retaliates by supporting Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who faces a primary opponent in Heastie-backed Hector Ramirez.

Fight Back New York, a pro-gay marriage group, has been digging up dirt on State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. 

Dan Doctoroff, the former deputy mayor and development czar, played a key role in getting several massive construction projects off the ground, including the new Yankee Stadium and Bronx Terminal Market. City Limits looks back at his legacy.

Local residents and shoppers will be able to purchase special "parking memberships" when the Botanical Garden's new 825-spot parking garage opens in 2012.

One of the men on trial for allegedly trying to blow up two Riverdale synagogues last year, ranted about his hatred for Jews in secretly-recording conversations played in court yesterday.

Fordham Prep's talented soccer team has high hopes for a strong season.

Bronx Congressmen Jose Serrano and Eliot Engel, and several of their colleagues, are currently receiving hefty taxpayer-funded pensions on top of their six-figure salaries.

From last week's Village Voice: a police officer from the 41st Precinct in the Hunts Point secretly recorded his superiors demanding that he meet a quota of arrests and summonses, something the NYPD has always denies it does. These same superiors also ordered officers to downgrade crime complaints, he claims. The revelations come on the back of a four-part series in the Voice concerning a precinct in Brooklyn and another disillusioned cop with a hidden tape recorder.

Edible Garden at NYBG

Sunday was a lovely day at the New York Botanical Garden's Edible Garden Exhibition which goes through Oct. 17. My wife and daughter and I got there in time for a cooking exhibition by the blogger/author Cathy Erway (photo in slideshow) who spent two years blogging about her experience NOT eating out at a single restaurant. For her demo she roasted different varieties of eggplant, whipped up a couple of sauces -- east-west she called them (one was a pesto and another a sesame paste like the kind you put on Chinese sesame noodles) and served them up to the audience. Mmmmmm.

Later we took the shuttle through the grounds to the Family Garden where we were permitted to harvest a bunch of different vegetables and herbs like basil, peppers, cucumber, chard, etc. Then my daughter was taught how to pickle the cucumbers (she's anxiously awaiting Sept. 1, which is the date on the ziploc bag in our fridge, indicating when they'll be "pickled" and ready to eat). At the Family Garden, kids dug for worms and went on a little scavenger hunt testing their knowledge of all things pickle. (American's favorite kind of pickle? You guess it: Dill.)

Other photos in this slideshow including kids digging for worms in the family garden, my daughter in front of the "pizza garden" (includes all kinds of vegetables you could put on a pizza), gourds hanging from an arbor, colorful chard, and some flowers I unfortunately don't have the names for (feel free to fill me in). 

If you haven't gotten to the Edible Garden yet, it's worth the trip. In addition to the activities above there are also audio tours guided by celebrity chefs. Check it out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Espada to Bronx Boro Prez: 'Listen to Your Daddy'

Following Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s endorsement of challenger Gustavo Rivera in the 33rd District Senate race earlier today, incumbent Pedro Espada Jr. stood in front of the Kingsbridge Armory and railed against Diaz's efforts to block the creation of a shopping mall at the long-vacant former military building.   

Pointing at the Armory toward the end of a press conference to announce the support of two Spanish-language newspapers, Espada said, "this should be a place that employs over 3,000 people, but cheap politics and pandering . . . inexperience, and inexperience, resulted in it still being an empty building." (Actually, the Armory mall would have provided about 1,200 jobs, the majority of them part-time retail positions and about 1,000 trade jobs during the building of the mall.)

If you don't recall the Armory fight last summer, fall, winter, the City Council almost unanimously (45-1) killed the shopping mall project when the developer, with backing from the mayor's office, refused to include a guarantee of living wage" jobs ($10 an hour, plus benefits) at the revamped site.

Diaz, the entire Bronx Council delegation, along with members of the Northwest Bronx Comnunity and Clergy Coalition and the city's biggest retail workers union, fought for living wage jobs as part of a Community Benefits agreement with the developer, the Related Companies, but a deal couldn't be worked out.

When asked about Diaz Jr.'s endorsement of Rivera, Espada said the borough president should have followed the lead of his father, State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., who endorsed Espada last week. "Listen to your daddy on this one," Espada said.

Diaz Jr.'s spokesman, John DeSio, responded by saying the community and the Council both decided the project wasn't right for the Armory. He added that he was shocked that Espada had the "incredible audacity" to criticize the B.P. or anyone on the Armory project, saying "Pedro Espada, who has the Armory in his district, it's a complete fact that he was nowhere to be found at any point during the Armory debate. He was not around. He expressed no interest in this. We had meetings all the time."

Gustavo and Padernacht (No Espada) Debate Tonight On BronxTalk

33rd SD Democratic primary challengers Gustavo Rivera and Daniel Padernacht will debate live tonight on BronxTalk, the borough's flagship talk show.  Moderated by host Gary Axelbank, the half-hour debate will begin at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's channel 67.

Mr. Axelbank is planning to offer commentary on the absence of the incumbent, Pedro Espada, Jr. at the beginning of the program.

For more than fifteen years, BronxTalk has been seen live each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67. It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at bronxnet.org. Produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available at blip.tv; search for "BronxTalk." 

Diaz, Jr. and Dinowitz Endorse Gustavo Rivera

This morning, at a press conference at Bronx Borough Hall, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinotwitz endorsed Gustavo Rivera, who's running against State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr.

In a statement released afterwards, Diaz said:

Not only is Mr. Rivera a smart candidate with real ideas for improving the lives of his future constituents in areas such as housing, healthcare and quality of life issues, he is a true Democrat who--unlike the unfortunate incumbent Pedro Espada--will not abandon the shared principles of both his party and the voters who sent him to Albany.
Added Dinowitz:
Sadly, Pedro Espada is the poster child for what's wrong with Albany. Whether it's his role in the Republican coup, his consistent flouting of campaign finance laws, or his use of his position to block passage of desperately-needed pro-tenant legislation, it's clear that we must make a change. I would go so far as to say that it's a moral imperative that Senator Espada be defeated. Fortunately, the voters have an excellent alternative: Gustavo Rivera.
Espada also picked up an endorsement or two today. More on that shortly.

Fordham Students Help Green Reservoir Oval Park

About 20 incoming Fordham University Freshman labored on a hill in Reservoir Oval Park on Friday afternoon. The students are among 160 incoming Freshman volunteers who are participating in Urban Plunge, a three day, pre-orientation community service program aimed at introducing students to the community outside of campus.

The students, helped by Mosholu Preservation Corporation (MPC)park employees, planted grass seedlings along a hillside on the north side of the park after they raked an irrigation system meant to prevent grass and mud erosion during rain storms.

The students volunteered earlier in the day at the NYC Food Bank before coming out to the park to plant grass and pull out overgrown weeds from around the Oval. The Urban Plunge Program and MPC have a long standing relationship and annually have incoming Fordham students volunteering throughout the park.

Espada Hands Out School Supplies, Gets in Ugly Confrontation

Espada's staff give out school
supplies (Photos by David Greene)


Last Wednesday evening, State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. and several of his staffers gave out free school supplies to local residents outside PS 94 in Norwood.

"The need is great," said Espada, who's held several giveaways in recent weeks. Last month he antagonized a local pastor when he tried to hand out free groceries by St. Brendan's Church.

Outside PS 94, though, much of the response was positive.

"He's going to get our vote because he's been there for us," said local resident Sedella Harvin. "He supports us in ways that he can."

One man, however, began heckling Espada, accusing him of living in Mamaroneck, not his Bronx district, and of being a thief. (Espada is being sued for allegedly stealing $14 million from the non-profit healthcare company he runs.)

A furious Espada suggested the men settle the dispute with their fists. "Go and meet me there, over there on the corner," he said, pointing to East Gun Hill Road. The man, who refused to give his name, declined the invitation.

After the confrontation, Nancy Brown, another local resident, said, "I won't vote for Espada, but I took the school supplies, because I needed it."

Only folks who'd received a letter in the mail from Espada, and bought it with them, received a bag, which contained a notebook, a folder, a ruler, and pencils. About 100 bags were given out. They were paid for with campaign funds, said Espada, who's running for reelection.

Espada (right) is held back by his staff as he argues with an unidentified man

What's Going On?

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

Bronx News Roundup, August 30

Police are still looking for the driver of a green Nissan Pathfinder who allegedly hit a 5-year-old kid in Williamsbridge, dragged him 50 feet, paused briefly, and then drove off. The 5-year-old, Joshua Sanders, remains in critical condition at Jacobi Hospital.

An ex-con was arrested and charged with raping a 79-year-old Bronx woman in July.

On Friday, a paid FBI informant testified in the case of four men accused of plotting to bomb two Riverdale synagogues. The informant, who the defense said coerced the four defendants into the bombing plot, said one of the defendants told him he wanted to be a martyr.  

Policed detectives say a convicted murderer may have killed other victims in the early 1980s by luring them with promises of cheap designer jeans

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is launching a new website dedicated to scrutinizing the city's worst landlords.

We linked to this in a Friday post, but this Times story delves into the complicated relationship between Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and his father State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. Junior is set to endorse Gustavo Rivera in the 33rd Senate District race at 11 a.m., while Senior has already endorsed the incumbent, Pedro Espada Jr. (The pair, Senior and Espada, have become allies after years of animosity -- Diaz took over the  south Bronx senate seat Espada used to occupy).

A new oral test for HIV, which can provide results in just 20 minutes, is being pushed in the Bronx, which is home to one-third of the city's HIV/AIDs cases.

Nelson Castro said the Bronx Democratic County Committee is crossing the ethical line in trying to have him thrown off the ballot for residency issues. But Bronx Democratic boss Carl Heastie said the investigation into Castro's residence was prompted when two pieces of mail sent to his address were returned and added that when a Board of Elections legal team went to the apartment, the name on the buzzer was not Castro's.

The Yankees Unobstructed — August 30

Sure, everyone loves to sing the praises of a "gool 'ol fashioned pennant race," until their team is in one.

The Yankees and Rays are tied with 32 games left to play, and if someone doesn't pull away, this thing might get too exciting for faint hearts. Pennant races are stressful. You feel like you can't (or at least shouldn't) miss a game. You find yourself constantly checking the competitor's websites, hoping for a key injury timely slump.

Ah, I remember when the Yankees were far ahead. And the "pennant race" was just something we talked about to make the Rays fans feel like they were part of something special. Then this happened. Oi Vei! Look at all those injuries! AROD, Teixeira, Pettitte, Marte, Aceves. The team is so unfit for a competitive September, you'd think they were from Queens (zinger!).

Wait, what's that? You say I shouldn't be complaining? You say my team's going to make the playoffs and I should just count my graces, and be content? Whatevs, buddy. My family's got a history of sloppy tickers, and I don't need Brett Gardner's jittery will-he won't-he first base steal teases to start aging me (alas, the young speedster would have 50 stolen bases already if he could just commit to running before the eleventeenth pitch of any given at-bat).

But, things are sure to get worse in the next month. Both the Yankees and Rays face a gauntlet of tough series' on their way to October, and while the Rays are practically a ball-playing informercial for a perfect strength and endurance program, the Yanks are withered and rusty.

Will the Rays overtake the Yanks once and for all?
Can the Yankees survive with half a pitching staff, a weary relief crew and an ever-changing lineup?
Will the fight for first unleash this sports fan's previously dormant hereditary weaknesses?
Find out next time on the BxNN's "The Yankees, Unobstructed."

NOTE: Make sure to check back every week for The Yankees, Unobstructed, the BxNN's Yankees opinion column.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Local Artist Looking For a Break in the Cartoon World [Updated]

Anthony Aroya
Anthony Aroya, a lifelong Bronxite who grew up on Prospect Avenue and now lives in Norwood, is a man of many talents and interests.

He's written a series of children's books, a handful of screenplays and a couple of plays (one of which was performed as part of the Strawberry One-Act Festival, off-Broadway, which another local artist participated in recently).

For the past three years, the deep baritone-voiced Aroya -- he sounds like a late-night R&B deejay or a Barry White impersonator -- worked as a voice-over actor on a few commercial and several video games. His persona in 2009's "House of the Dead: Overkill", Det. Isaac Washington, was nominated for best newly created video game character. (Interesting side note: "Overkill" set a Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition record for being "the most profane video game in history," dropping an astounding 189 incarnations of the f-bomb.)

Now Aroya, who works at Montefiore Medical Center as his day job, is looking to break into the world of cartooning. So, he created "Spike and Mike Take Over the Universe One Molecule at a Time," which he illustrated and wrote (he's also the voice of Mike).

Looking for some help getting his project off the ground, Aroya uploaded a pilot-version of "Spike and Mike" onto Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects. The idea is that artists upload to Kickstarter with a fund-raising goal (for "Spike and Mike" it's $10,000) and deadline. Then people can check out the projects and decided whether or not to help fund it.

If the artist achieves his or her goal by the deadline, then they get the money for the project. If it doesn't achieve it's goal, all the contributions get returned. So, either funders get to see a finished product or they get their money back.

Aroya's cartoon project: "Spike and Mike"
Aroya says he came up with the idea for "Spike and Mike" when thinking about the diversity of his northwest Bronx neighborhood and the notion of seeking common ground among people of such divergent backgrounds. Spike (who's white) and Mike (who's black) are both sperm looking to impregnate the same egg, but they talk about all sorts of issues and crack insightful jokes along the way. In the Kickstarter episode, they debate about who should be the one to impregnate the egg.

It's comedy with a message, Aroya says. "I feel like you can get a lot more done with humor." Aroya says the cartoon is adult in its content, "but it's nothing off-putting, once you get past the fact that it's talking sperm."

So far, Aroya's raised just $55 with a little more than two weeks remaining before his deadline.

If you're interested, here's the link again to Arroyo's "Spike and Mike" project.

Diaz and Dinowitz to Endorse Gustavo Rivera

It's been another good day for Senate candidate Gustavo Rivera, with both City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio endorsing him in his race against embattled State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr.

Perhaps more importantly, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Assembly Jeffrey Dinowitz have also announced they're supporting him.  They plan to make it official at a press conference on Monday morning.  More here and here.  Rivera, you may recall, has been wooing Diaz for some time.

Mess of the Moment

This photo was taken earlier today by a BxNN reader on Jerome Avenue near the 4-Train station on Mosholu Parkway. Apparently, it's been like this for a few days now.

So who is responsible for this mess of the moment? Technically speaking, homeowners and landlords are responsible for the sidewalks in front of their property, but the Sanitation Department's list of rules and regulations is unclear about who is responsible on sidewalks where there are no businesses. I would guess that in this case, where the trash is near an MTA-owned train station, it's their responsibility.

We're waiting for word from Sanitation about this, but if anyone knows the deal, fill us in.

Note: Tell us about your mess of the moment by emailing us photos or a location and a desrcription at bronxnewsnetwork@gmail.com. Or you can alert us to mess by posting a description and location in the comments section.

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 27

The quarter-finals of the Bronx Open, a women's tennis tournament, are being held today. The New York Times says:

Recognizable players from the women’s tour, in competitive, sometimes controversial matches, with fans watching from about a yard away, in an outer borough park — only it’s not the United States Open qualifying but the EmblemHealth Bronx Open, which is taking place this week on the hardcourts in picturesque Crotona Park.
There's no admission charge today or tomorrow.  Watching Sunday's singles final will set you back $10.  The US Open itself starts on Monday.

NY1 wraps up its week-long "Once Upon a Time In The Bronx" series with a look back at the storied history of Van Cortlandt Park.

The daughter of a Bronx woman who died at Jacobi Medical Center is suing the hospital for allegedly harvesting the deceased woman's organs without permission.

In court yesterday, the defense lawyers representing four men accused of trying to blow up two Riverdale synagogues, continued to paint their clients as dupes, cynically lured into a plot they would never have devised on their own.

Police say a 21-year-old man was shot dead in Mott Haven around 4 a.m. this morning.

Carl Paladino, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, received a warm welcome in the Bronx yesterday from State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. and other Hispanic ministers. Diaz also wants to meet with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. So far, Cuomo hasn't shown much interest.

Michele Carlo, a Brooklyn-based writer of Puerto Rican heritage, has written a memoir - "Fish Out Of Agua" - about her childhood years in the Bronx. Here's Carlo's website.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BxNN to Moderate Debate of 33rd Senate District Candidates; Espada is Declining to Participate

OK, first the details.

Nonprofit organizations Transportation Alternatives and Picture the Homeless are organizing a debate of the 33rd District Senate candidate that we will be moderating on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. at Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2430 Walton Ave. (right smack in the middle of the district).

Candidates Gustavo Rivera and Dan Padernacht have both agreed to participate and share their views and opinions on transit and other vital community issues. Unfortunately, the incumbent Pedro Espada Jr. has (thus far) declined to show up.

But Transportation Alternatives' Rider Rebellion Campaign, which is adamantly opposed to a potentially significant increase in monthly Metrocard fees (the cost could jump to $104, from $89), is not going to let Espada off the hook easily.

They are urging constituents of the 33rd Senate District -- which stretches from Tremont to Norwood -- to call Espada's office (718-654-4329), say they are outraged about the possible fare hike (which they should be), and demand that he show up next Thursday and tell them how he's going to stop the hike from happening.

In campaign materials, Espada is claiming he played a large role in saving free student Metrocards. Why wouldn't he want to let people know how he supposedly did it and how he could possibly save our current fare? 

Well, it appears Espada, who is no stranger to confrontation, is declining to participate in any debates that would put him in the same room with his opponents (or even give written answers to the same issue-based questions as his opponents). Could the former boxer be scared to debate about the issues affecting the community he says he works so hard for? It's a question Espada will answer with his actions.

Espada Rolls Out Endorsements

Pedro Espada Jr. announced three endorsements today as he campaigns to fend off two Democratic challengers in the upcoming 33rd Senate District primary.

A spokesman for Espada said La Voz Hispana, a Harlem-based newspaper that doesn't appear to have an online presence, will endorse the state senator in an upcoming editorial.

Bishop Fernando Rodriguez (pictured in a pink shirt, apparently doing the Tango with Espada, above) of New York's chapter of the Latin/African American Chaplains Association (LACA), and Rosa Ayala, the vice president of the Dominican Day Parade, also pledged their support for Espada.

“Whether it's health care for the poor, services for senior citizens, affordable housing for working families, or educational opportunities for our children, Senator Espada delivers for our community," Rodriguez said in a statement.

The Rodriguez endorsement is especially noteworthy because he and his organization appear to be looking for a larger role in Bronx politics.

LACA and Rodriguez had a presence during the successful insurgent campaign of Fernando Cabrera, who narrowly defeated incumbent Maria Baez last fall to win the 14th Council District seat. Rodriguez and his entourage attended Cabrera's election night victory party and his inauguration at Lehman College in January.

Just last week, however, Cabrera announced his support for Espada's leading opponent, Gustavo Rivera, who has been endorsed by an army of unions and elected officials over the past several weeks. 

What's Going On?

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

New Roosevelt Initiative Opens Bronx Office, Hires Yorman Nunez

Earlier today, the New Roosevelt Initiative, a political action committee founded by businessman Bill Samuels, opened a field office on the Grand Concourse near West Tremont Avenue. The goal: to convince voters to dump State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. and replace him with Gustavo Rivera.

The office will be run by Yorman Nunez, a community organizer with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

“Not only do I want the Bronx and voters in the 33rd district to have a Senate Senator they can be proud of, but I want New York State to have the best, most accountable legislature in the country,” said Nunez in a statement released by New Roosevelt. “The first step towards realizing that goal is ousting corrupt politicians like Espada and replacing them with exciting and dynamic reformers such as Gustavo Rivera. I encourage Bronx voters to visit our office and join our important cause.”
In the statement, Nunez is described as a "veteran political organizer" and a "seasoned Bronx field operative," a bit of a stretch considering his age (he turned 22 today, according to his Facebook page).  But Nunez does have some political experience.  Last year, he ran - albeit briefly - against then-Councilwoman Maria Baez, dropping out before filing his petition signatures.  He later worked on Bill Thompson's mayoral campaign, and earlier this year served as Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter's campaign manager. Pilgrim-Hunter, another Espada opponent, ended her challenge in July citing a lack of money.
The New Roosevelt Initiative previously announced it was spending at least $250,000 on its anti-Espada effort. But it came under fire recently from Rivera-supporting labor groups, who say it hasn't been as active as they hoped.
For more about the organization and its new Bronx office, check out this Riverdale Press article.

Senate Candidates on the Issues

A few weeks ago we posted responses from two of the Senate candidates in the 33rd District to our issue survey and ran them here on the blog (Sen. Espada declined to participate). We've posted a link for the series in the upper right hand corner of this site for easy reference. Take a look.

Also, the Bronx News Network will be moderating a candidates' debate sponsored by the cycling and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives on Thursday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. at Fordham Lutheran Church, 2340 Walton Ave. Candidates will discuss their positions on a variety of public transit issues and other critical issues facing the district. Gustavo Rivera and Daniel Padernacht have agreed to participate. Pedro Espada has declined.

As reported earlier, Padernacht and Rivera will also debate on BronxTalk (channel 67 on Cablevision) on Monday, Aug. 30 at 9 p.m. The debate will be re-aired at the same time throughout the week.  

Bronx News Roundup, Aug 26

Great story in the Times today about a hoarder in Bedford Park whose apartment had turned into a literal sea of stuff. The photos are amazing. Recently, Part of the Solution (POTS), the soup kitchen and multi-service organization on Webster Avenue in Bedford Park, enlisted a company that specializes in extreme hoarder cases to help make the apartment habitable again.

Testimony began in the trial against the four men accused of plotting to blow up two Riverdale synagogues, with an FBI agent saying he paid a confidential informant nearly $100,000 a year to help him catch local would-be terrorists. Defense lawyers say the FBI and the informant came up with the plot and entrapped the four defendants.

NY1's Dean Meminger takes a look at Freedomland, the Bronx amusement park that was located in the space now the Bay Plaza mall in Co-op City. It only lasted five seasons in early 1960s, but was the biggest amusement park in the world when it was built, according to borough historian Lloyd Ultan.

BoogieDowner has details on the new and improved dog run at Williamsbridge Oval Park. (The bloggers, who live in the building where Pedro Espada owns a condo that he claims is his primary residence, also say they recently received a hypocritical robo-call from Espada.)

If Espada is re-elected in the 33rd District this fall, a group of women state senate candidates and incumbents say they will not vote for him as majority leader.

The Bronx DA's office has bed bugs.

Bronx-bred hoop star Corey Fisher, fresh off a 105-point outburst in a summer league game, is ready to take on more of scoring load during his senior season at Villanova.

BronxTalk Debates - Naomi, Espada Absent

With one claiming to be unavailable and the other refusing to return phone calls or emails, it appears that the BronxTalk debates for the Democratic primaries in the 80th AD and the 33rd SD will be held without participation from the incumbents.

On Wednesday, a staff member in Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera's office told BronxTalk producer Jane Folloro that Rivera had a "campaign street effort" all week and would therefore be not available to tape a debate with challenger Robert Giuffre that was to have aired on Monday, September 6 at 9:00pm and through the week during BronxTalk's regular schedule.

As a result of Ms. Rivera's absence, Mr. Giuffre will be interviewed alone by host Gary Axelbank on the program.

In the hotly contested 33rd SD primary, neither Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. nor his chief of staff Alex Diaz have returned any of numerous phone calls or emails requesting the Senator's participation.  As a result, only challengers Gustavo Rivera and Dan Padernacht will debate live on the program on Monday, August 30 at 9:00pm.

"This is yet another low in Bronx elected representation," said Axelbank.  "One would think that incumbents would be eager to boast of their records on the eve of a primary or at least feel a sense of responsibility to their constituents and the democratic process itself.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  It's the height of arrogance and disrespect."

For more than fifteen years, BronxTalk has been seen live each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67. It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at bronxnet.org. Produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available at blip.tv; search for "BronxTalk." 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Group Picked for Living Wage Study Accused of Bias

On Aug. 12, the city's Economic Development Corporation announced its decision pay $1 million to  Charles River Associates, a Boston-based consulting firm, to conduct a survey on the economic effects of a living wage law.

This week, a coalition of groups and unions that have been fighting for such a law are calling the city's selection "rigged," claiming that two of the economists chosen to work on the project are biased and have well-known anti-living wage sentiments. 

“Using consultants who have already made up their minds shows that the EDC is not concerned with the economic development of all New Yorkers," said Valery Jean, Executive Director of Families United for Racial Economic Equality, in a statement. His group is part of the Living Wage NYC campaign.

A press release issued by the EDC says that Charles River Associates was chosen through a "public, competitive process," and that the firm has a "strong expertise in economic and financial analysis."

What's Going On?

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

Bronx News Roundup, August 25

Pedro Espada is appealing to potential voters via a YouTube video ad and through automated phone messages. In both, he says that "wealthy outsiders" are launching a smear campaign against him.

More Espada news: he's been endorsed by the Spanish-language newspaper New York De Dia. He hasn't, however, received the (financial) support of his fellow State Democrats, who have spent a hefty sum this election season on consulting fees for nearly every incumbent candidate--except Espada. The Daily News also points out that he still owes over $10,000 to the Board of Elections in violation fines for not filing financial disclosure forms.

The teenage cyclist who was struck by a car in Fordham earlier this week is now on life support at St. Barnabas hospital.

Today's "Once Upon a Time in the Bronx," installment from NY1 features a series of photographs of the Yankees through the years. 

Crime is up dramatically in the Bronx, according to the NYPD's CompStats. The murder rate has gone up 22 percent this year.

Seven apartment buildings will open next month in Melrose as part of Boricua College's new campus.

The New York Times' Angel Franco's weekly series of police photographs features a snapshot from a Bronx hostage negotiation. 

Prosecutors are calling their first witnesses today in the trial of the four men accused of plotting to bomb two Riverdale synagogues. 

Residents in the shore town of Wildwood, N.J. are opposing the plans of a Bronx-based veterans organization,  which is looking to house homeless vets in a property there.

The city considers banning tractor trailers from parking on residential streets.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rivera Endorsed by Healthcare Groups

Candidate Gustavo Rivera at a press conference today, where he received the backing of three local healthcare groups.
State Senate candidate Gustavo Rivera has a few more groups to add to his growing pile of endorsements.

According to a press release, Rivera held a conference today to discus his own health agenda for the Bronx and where he announced the support of three major health care groups: the Committee of Interns and Residents, which represents resident physicians in the city, a healthcare workers union called 1199 SEIU, and the Nurses Association of New York.

“We need leaders who will put health care first and never compromise our community for personal gain," George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU, said in a statement. "Gustavo Rivera’s Healthcare for All agenda is exactly what we need keep the Bronx healthy and our community strong.”

Rivera's "Healthcare for All" agenda includes promises to fight health care cuts in Albany and increase wages for workers in the health care industry. You can read the rest of his statement here, at his campaign website. 

Rivera's received a slew of endorsements in the past month or so (see here, here, here, here, and here)

As the Daily News' Bronx columnist Bob Kappstatter pointed out today,  all this political backing might not necessarily be enough to unseat Pedro Espada on Sept. 14--a recent poll still puts Espada ahead.

Bedford Park Seniors Test New Voting Machines

A woman at the Bedford Park Multi Service Center feeds her test ballot into a new scanning machine, which the Board of Elections will use for the first time this year (Photo by Jeanmarie Evelly)
Voters hitting the polls in state elections this fall won't have any levers to pull this time. The State Board of Elections has traded in the old machines for a new voting system, debuting in New York on Sept. 14 during the Democratic primary.

The Bedford Park Multi Service Center for Seniors hosted a demonstration this morning to teach seniors how to use the new machines. Voters are given new paper ballots to fill in by hand, using a pen and coloring in a bubble for the candidate of their choice, much like a high school standardized test. They then bring their ballots over to a scanner and insert them into the machines to cast their votes.

The changes were put in place to comply with a federal law enacted after the confusion of the 2000 election, and New York is the very last state to make the switch. Still, patrons at the Bedford Park Center were resistant to the change.

"I'm afraid of computers," said Millie Gilliamsen. "But I'll adjust."

What's Going On?

Scroll through our calendar for details of upcoming events right here in the Bronx. Know of something we missed? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com and we'll gladly add it.

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 24

This week, NY1 is taking readers and viewers back in time with a series called "Once Upon a Time in the Bronx." Yesterday, the station had this piece about the history of Parkchester. Today, there's this piece about Fashion Moda, a one-time gallery and performance space on Third Avenue.

A woman wanted for a murder in Connecticut 15 years ago has turned up in the Bronx.  Patty Carrion had been living in an apartment on the Grand Concourse under an assumed name.  She was arrested on Saturday when police saw her beating up her boyfriend. Her true identity came to light when they fingerprinted her.  Carrion has previously been featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted."

A 16-year-old cyclist was seriously injured in Fordham last night when he was hit by an unlicensed driver.

In other sad news, a 17-year-old Bronx girl was hit by a train in Bronxville, Westchester, on Sunday.  She remains in a critical condition at Jacobi Medical Center.

Jury selection has resumed for the four men accused of attempting to blow up two synagogues in Riverdale last year.

The number of shooting incidents in the Bronx may be down this year, but the murder rate is up - way up.

In today's El Diario/La Prensa, State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. and challenger Gustavo Rivera tell readers why they deserve their vote.  The articles are in Spanish, and so Google Translate may come in handy (it did for me).  Unless I'm somehow missing it, it doesn't look like Daniel Padernacht was given a similar opportunity to state his case. One more observation: In his article, Espada talks up his "free freeze" bill, and says he helped keep Tolentine Senior Center and R.A.I.N Baily Senior Center open.  For the record, he had little to do with keeping these particular centers open. 

Rivera may have secured dozens of endorsements, but the Daily News' Bob Kappstatter says Espada could still be in good shape.  That and other political news in Kappstatter's weekly column.

The big labor unions supporting Rivera say the wealthy New Roosevelt Initiative, another Rivera backer, has been a little too quiet for their liking

Still on Espada, Attorney general candidate Kathleen Rice believes fellow candidate Eric Schneiderman has been too soft on him.  She says Schneiderman's missed "125 opportunities" to ask Espada to relinquish his majority leader position. Schneiderman, by the way, was endorsed by The New York Times at the weekend.

Roberto Perez, host of the radio show The Perez Notes, recently interviewed Robert Giuffre, who's running against Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera. Giuffre talks about ballot access, his reasons for running, and the assemblywoman's record.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's Going On?

Just updated our events calendar for the next few weeks. Check it out!

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

More Endorsements for Rivera

Gustavo Rivera, one of two State Senate candidates looking to unseat Sen. Pedro Espada, has received three more endorsements this morning. According to press releases, he's scored the support of State Senator Eric Schneiderman, who represents Northern Manhattan and parts of the Bronx, as well as that of Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat. Rivera is also being backed by the grassroots organization Citizen Action of New York.

"Today, I'm not just endorsing Gustavo Rivera for State Senate-I'm endorsing reform, I'm reforming leadership, and I'm endorsing integrity," Schneiderman said in a statement sent this morning.

Schneiderman, who is running for Attorney General this fall, is the first State Senator from the Bronx to endorse Rivera (he's also been endorsed by Sen. Liz Krueger, of Manhattan).

It's been a good week for Rivera, who's received a slew of other endorsements recently, including support from Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera and former Borough President Freddy Ferrer last week.

Youth Theater Director Carlos Laboy Passes Away

Carlos Laboy loved the theater. He also loved teaching everything about the theater -- from acting to stage production -- to the youth of the northwest Bronx where he founded the StageKids program that is run out of Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. It was his great passion in life.

Laboy (pictured, center) passed away yesterday at the age of 59 after a months-long battle with an aggressive form of cancer.

"Carlos will be greatly missed and will live on in our hearts," his family wrote in a statement announcing his death.

On Wednesday afternoon, from 3 to 9 p.m., there will be a wake for Laboy at Ortiz Funeral Home, 2580 Grand Concourse (just north of Fordham Road).

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking people to donate to the Teen Program at Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. Contributions can be sent to MMCC at 3450 DeKalb Ave., Bronx, NY, 10467. Just write: "Re: MMCC Teen Program."

Fore more on Laboy's work in the community, click here, here and here. Here's the StageKids website.

(Photo by Adi Talwar)

Parishioners call for priest's ouster

Rebelling against their new pastor, congregants at St. Athanasius Church in Longwood staged an angry demonstration Sunday to criticize their new parish priest for ending a long-standing flea market that served the neighborhood's poor, ousting the beloved nun who ran the market and letting longtime volunteers go. Find the whole story in The Hunts Point Express.

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 23

We'll start this week off with the story of an uplifting fundraiser held by Love Gospel Assembly Church, which was gutted in a four-alarm fire in July, at Lehman College on Saturday. The event was attended by Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and State Senator Pedro Espada Jr., who both vowed to help the church rebuild.

Speaking of Espada, the NY Post reports that the Senate Majority Leader failed to disclose campaign spending for at least two food giveaways -- one on Reservoir Avenue and one across the street from St. Brendan's Church in Norwood. A spokesman for Espada said the spending would be disclosed during the next filing period. Espada has racked up tens of thousands of dollars in campaign finance violations over the years.

More than a dozen school workers, including at least two in the Bronx, have been terminated since 2009 for falsifying excuses for missing work.

State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. has spent more than $16,000 to maintain a fleet of seven campaign vehicles that ride around his district, "blaring music" and spread the "Vote for Diaz" message. Diaz says he is a master at "street campaigning." His opponent in the upcoming primary, Charlie Ramos, says he'll be going be going to door-to-door, talking to voters.

A funeral was held for Tashawn Bromfield, the 16-year-old from Connecticut who was killed in the Bronx last weekend.

Preservationists are planning to protest the city's plan to cut down 73 trees on Pelham Parkway. The city says it needs to cut down the trees to install new guardrails and other safety measures.

To culminate HOPE week, the Yankees surprised Bronx sisters Johanna and Melinda Arias.

Cops nabbed a Bronx gunman who fired at them in Williamsbridge on Saturday.

The Yankees Unobstructed — August 23

The Yankees, Unobstructed is back after a long hiatus, and — wouldn't ya know it — it's returned just in time to acknowledge yesterday's 10-0 massacre of a certain Norwood News Managing Editor's favorite team (the Seattle Mariners).

Indeed, on a day when the Yanks needed score only one run to get by, they piled it on against the West Coast's Cleveland Indians. But alas, one blowout victory against the squad from Major League 3: Back to the Minors does not a championship make, and thus despite their win, the Yankees are facing their first major crisis of this season.

Tonight Ivan Nova, 23, will make the first start of his major league career. The Yankees have all but acknowledged that they're unsure whether the AAA ace is ready for the bigs, but what choice do they have?

The Yankees starting rotation:

C.C. Sabathia - Great
Phil Hughes - Fine
A.J. Burnett - The bane of everyone's existence
Javier Vazquez - Has foresaken confidence
Andy Pettitte - 'Ol Yeller hasn't pitched in over a month
Dustin Moseley - A reasonable facsimile of a Seattle-quality starter (dissed!)
Ivan Nova - TBA

So there ya go. Leading the division by only one game with 38 left to play, the Yankees have two quality starters, four posers and a rookie with great expectations.

So how are they supposed to hold onto that one game lead? The answer is Robinson Cano.

Say it with me: MVP! MVP! MVP!

Over the last seven games, when the Yankees have needed an offensive superhero most, Robbie has hit four home runs for 13 RBI, with a .333 avg.

Combine that with surprising hit-machine/trade-deadline acquisition Austin Kearns (14 hits in 11 games), and the Yankees have barely noticed the on-again off-again absence of Alex Rodriguez, who's struggling with a calf injury.

The Yankees will be fine as a team relying on two pitchers and two hitters until September 10, after which 16 of their final 22 games are against the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox.

NOTE: Make sure to check back every week for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's Yankees opinion column.

Friday, August 20, 2010

BronxTalk Debates - Update

As of this posting we have received confirmation that Dan Padernacht and Gustavo Rivera will participate in the live televised debate between the candidates in the 33rd SD on BronxTalk on Monday, August 30 beginning at 9:00pm.  Unfortunately, despite a number of calls and emails to his office and campaign, Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. has yet to confirm his participation.  We certainly hope and expect that he will agree to be part of this important program.  As soon as he responds to the invitation, we'll post it here on the BxNN.

Also, invitations were sent to incumbent Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera and challenger Rob Giuffre to participate in a televised debate in the race for the democratic nod in the 80th AD that will be pre-taped, but aired on during BronxTalk's regular schedule at 9:00pm on Monday, September 6 and through the rest of that week.  We fully expect that both candidates will agree to participate in that one, too.

BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank will moderate both debates.

For more than fifteen years, BronxTalk has been seen live each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67. It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at bronxnet.org. Produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available at blip.tv; search for "BronxTalk." 

Borough President Blogging for the Huffington Post

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has begun blogging for the Huffington Post website. His first post, published on Wednesday, was titled "Continuing Our Fight Against Illegal Guns." You can read it here.  Already it's generated a fair few comments from readers, most of whom don't appear to share Diaz's position on gun control.

Young Golfers Invited to Mosholu Golf Course

Tomorrow, young golfers are invited to visit the Mosholu Golf Course, at 3545 Jerome Ave., to help improve their golfing skills and make the course more environmentally sustainable.

Through a campaign sponsored by the PGA Tour, FedEx, Audubon International and The First Tee of Metropolitan New York Program, the FedExCup Fore!Ever Campaign teaches young golfers about sustainable golf practices while helping to make Mosholu, and other courses, more eco-friendly.

Mosholu Golf Course was one of six courses awarded environmental improvement grants which will result in the planting of native trees and plant species as well as the eradication of invasive plants.

Tomorrow, as well as playing golf, children will help plant trees and ferns.

Mosholu, the only golf course in the city to receive a grant, hosts the First Tee Metropolitan New York program, whose mission, according to its website, is to “impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf”.

For more information, please call (718) 655-9164.

Cabrera Endorses Rivera, Says He'll Bring the 'Change We Need'

Councilman Fernando Cabrera (left) with Gustavo Rivera this morning (Photo: J. Fergusson)

This morning, in front of the Kingsbridge Armory, Councilman Fernando Cabrera officially endorsed Gustavo Rivera, the young political aide and college professor who's running a spirited campaign against State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr.

"I believe that Gustavo, with his influence, leadership, character, and charisma, will bring about the... change we need in our neighborhood," said Cabrera in a short speech.

"We need a senator that can partner with our office," he added. "We need a senator who is going to work in housing and not against our tenants."  (While Cabrera was reluctant to criticize Espada directly - unlike, say, Councilman Oliver Koppell and former Bronx BP Freddy Ferrer - his last comment was a definite dig at the incumbent, who's been accused of having a cozy relationship with landlords.)

Rivera said of Cabrera: "This is a man who's a man of faith, a man of family, and a man who's committed to his community. And I want to measure up to these same standards. These are the standards we need to have for elected officials. People that care about the community that they live in. That are responsive to the people they represent."

The endorsement could be significant because much of Cabrera's Council district falls within the confines of the 33rd Senate district.

What's Going On?

Here's our daily listing of Bronx happenings:

Editor's note: What did we miss? Send details to bronxnewsnetwork[at]gmail.com.

Former BP Ferrer Endorses Gustavo Rivera

As we mentioned in the news roundup yesterday, former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer is endorsing candidate Gustavo Rivera in the 33rd Senate District race, as Rivera fights to unseat State Sen. Pedro Espada, Jr.

Ferrer and Rivera held a brief press conference on the steps of Bronx Borough Hall yesterday afternoon. Flanked by a modest showing of Rivera supporters holding signs, Ferrer praised Rivera and then said he was "embarrassed" by Espada's "scofflaw attitude."

"If there is a moral test in politics this year, it is this race," he told the crowd. Watch the video below to hear the rest of Ferrer's statement.

Freddy Ferrar Edorses Gustavo Rivera from Jeanmarie Evelly on Vimeo.

The two men are no strangers--Rivera worked for Ferrer on his failed campaign for Mayor.

"It's been almost ten years since I first knocked on doors throughout the Bronx for Freddy, and its an incredible honor to receive his backing today," he said.

The current Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. was spotted entering Bronx Borough Hall yesterday as well--his office is on the building's third floor--though he didn't make an appearance at Rivera's press conference.

Diaz has yet to endorse a candidate in the 33rd District race, though he said he wants to see Espada defeated. The Borough President had a lunch meeting last week with Rivera at a Kingsbridge restaurant, and is also supposed to meet with the remaining candidate, lawyer Daniel Padernacht, at some point in the future (their original meeting, scheduled for this past Tuesday, had to be postponed, Padernacht said.)

Bronx News Roundup, Aug. 20

We'll start with a national sports story with Bronx connections. Former Bronx Bomber Roger Clemens was indicted yesterday on charges of making false statements, perjury and lying to Congress when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs.

The city has a new program to curb truancy in public schools.

The cheapest apartment for sale in the city is 300-square-foot studio in Fordham Manor, according to a survey by PropertyShark.com. The cost: $45,000.

Mayor Bloomberg is teaming up with the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and ice cream vendor, Delicioso Coco Helado, to combat domestic violence in the Boogie Down.

Two students from Bedford Park's St. Philip Neri School, close friends Angellica Lara and Stephanie Toro, went to Alabama for space camp as a reward for doing well in school.
Bronx businesses are meeting to plot ways to improve

Here's an interview with Bronx-born comic Mike DeStefano whose career has taken off after an impressive run on the show "Last Comic Standing."

The Hutchinson Metro Center is hosting a celebration for Mother Teresa on Aug. 26, what would have been her 100th birthday.

Fernando Cabrera to Endorse Gustavo Rivera

There will be press conference at 10 a.m. in front of the Kingsbridge Armory to announce Councilman Fernando Cabrera's endorsement of Gustavo Rivera as he seeks to unseat Pedro Espada Jr. in the 33rd Senate District.

Rivera's received a slew of endorsements over the past several weeks, including unions and city and state elected officials (yesterday, former Boro Prez and mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer joined the Rivera camp).

Cabrera, who's 14th Council District lies entirely within the 33rd Senate District, could bring a good deal of manpower to Rivera's bid if he taps into his politically savvy congregation at New Life International Outreach Church, the church Cabrera founded in the northwest Bronx two decades ago and helped him unseat Maria Baez last fall.

We'll have more on this later. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tenants in Rundown Creston Ave. Building Demand Action

VIDEO: Standing in her living room, Vanessa Santiago describes conditions inside her apartment

Last night, Creston Avenue resident Vanessa Santiago fought back tears as she spoke to reporters and local politicians about the litany of problems inside her basement apartment.

When it rains, she said, water seeps under her front door and into the living room, meaning she can't have furniture. There are holes in the walls and ceilings, she continued, and mice, cockroaches and other bugs are a common sight for her, her husband, and her five kids. Her toilet doesn't work properly, neither do the faucets in the bathroom sink, and most of the electrical sockets in the two-bedroom apartment are broken. The list goes on.
"My kids cannot keep living like this," Santiago sobbed.

Making matters worse, her apartment - and the 32 other units in the building - have been without cooking gas since June.

Tenants recently began meeting with organizers from the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. Last night, tenants and organizers hung banners ("SAVE OUR HOMES" "OUR CHILDREN ARE SICK" "HPD WHERE R U?) from the fire escapes, and held a press conference to bring attention to their plight.

Last night's press conference. The landlord had the banners torn down this morning, tenants activists said. (Photo by Alma Watkins)

The building, at 2229 Creston Ave. in South Fordham, has 270 housing violations, an exorbitant number for its size. 

Tenants say the landlord, Treetop Management, a real estate company in New Jersey which uses the name 2229 Creston Partners LLC for the Creston building, has consistently failed to maintain the apartments, and that HPD is also at fault.  According to NY1, HPD recently made $30,000 worth of emergency repairs - but you wouldn't know it.

Maria Ramos, a first floor tenant, has a huge hole in her kitchen ceiling, after workmen visited in June to inspect the apartment's gas fixtures. Problem is, they never returned to repair it, and now rats are sneaking in.  In her living room a plastic tub collects murky water dripping from another hole in the ceiling, where a lightbulb would normally be. In her bathroom the toilet no longer flushes.

"We're human beings, not animals," Ramos said.

After touring several apartments, Assemblyman Nelson Castro described the conditions as "really horrible."  The building "needs to be repaired ASAP," he said. 

Castro said his office has reached out to HPD and has tried, without success, to contact the landlord.  (We, also, were unable to immediately reach the landlord.)

As they continue to wait for repairs, tenants are considering their next steps.  If help doesn't come soon, Santiago said, she and her family are heading to a homeless shelter.

Other tenants are considering a rent strike, a tenant organizer said.

VIDEO: Jose Santiago, Vanessa's husband, in the family's bathroom