Friday, April 30, 2010
One hundred people will hit the waters of the Bronx River tomorrow in canoes and kayaks for a five mile ride to kick off the start of paddling season. The 11th annual Bronx River Flotilla, sponsored by the Bronx River Alliance and the Department of Parks and Recreation, is to celebrate the revitalization of the waterway--a result of years of advocacy to clean up the river.
The festivities will include the unveiling of a brand new guide map to encourage more residents to use the river and to make sure paddlers navigate its waters safely. There will also be a celebration picnic at Concrete Plant Park around 1 p.m. More details here.
Mark your calenders for the weekend of May 21st and 22nd--it's going to be a hootenanny. Decades of folk musicians from the Hunter College Folk Music Club are having a reunion concert and picnic to raise money on behalf of the Bronx River Alliance.
These folk jams sessions were popular staples on the Lehman College campus--when it was still dubbed "Uptown Hunter"--and came to be known by students as Hunter Hoots (short for Hootenannies).
The concert will be held at Lehman College’s new Lovinger Theater, at 8PM on Friday, May 21st and will feature performances by a number of hootenanny alum, including blues guitarist Danny Kalb. The concert is followed by a picnic on Saturday the 22nd with food, music and canoe rides.
Tickets and more info here: http://www.bronxhoot.org
WNYC’s Radio Rookies, a radio training program for teenagers, has won a 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award for a three-part series, "This is the South Bronx," by Keith Tingman, Miguelina “Erikka” Diaz, and Amon Frazier.
In a press release, The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which runs the awards program, praised the students' work. "The personal, often spare narratives defy stereotypes and provide an intimate understanding of what motivates complicated human beings trying to make the best of life in difficult circumstances," it said.
Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s widow, personally called Erikka to congratulate her.
Erikka (middle photo) graduated from Mott Haven Village Preparatory and currently goes to Mercy College; Amon (right) attends Automotive High School in Brooklyn; and Keith (left) goes to the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice. All three live in the Bronx.
To listen to the series, click on the following story titles: Money Stress, Incarcerated Parents, and Promotion in Doubt.
Here's a list of all the award winners. While there were students categories, "Domestic Radio" wasn't one of them, meaning Erikka and Co. were up against professionals from radio stations across the country - quite an achievement.
Photos courtesy of WNYC.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas is being sued by a Queens woman who claims the judge borrowed $500,00 from her to pay off gambling debts and keep loansharks at bay.
Congressman Jose Serrano wants the MLB All Star game moved from Phoenix to protest Arizona's new immigration law.
Also on the Serrano front: the rep praised a new bill passed in the House yesterday that gives Puerto Rico, a longtime U.S. territory, the option of becoming a state.
Three lion cubs make their debut at the Bronx Zoo today. You can help name them by submitting suggestions to the Daily News here.
An Emily Dickinson-themed garden show opens at the Botanical Garden today, an homage to the poet's passion for horticulture.
Environmental justice group Sustainable South Bronx scored a public health award from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Police are looking for the suspect in a March robbery at E. 187th and Grand Concourse.
More on the second lawsuit filed this week against Pedro Espada by the Attorney General's office, from the Village Voice's Tom Robbins. WCBS aslo interviews a whistleblower from Espada's Soundview clinic, who said employees were regularly used to do campaign work for the senator.
A new playground in Longwood is modeled after a rotary printing press.
Horace Mann in Riverdale made a list of the nation's top 20 prep schools, compiled by Forbe's (NYC had seven schools on the list total).
At the event, Bill Aguado (pictured), Sean Delany, and John Fouhey will be the honored for their contributions to BronxWorks and the borough at large.
Aguado is a BronxWorks board member and the president (and former executive director) of the Bronx Council on the Arts. As a cultural activist, he's helped design and implement the Bronx Cultural Trolley, the Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) awards, the Bronx Writers' Center, and more.
Delany is the executive director of Lawyers Alliance for New York, and a former BronxWorks board chair and legal counsel.
John Fouhey, of Davis Polk & Wardwell, does pro bono legal work for BronxWorks and is a former board member.
More for information about the fundraiser, or to buy a ticket, click here.
Among other things, BronxWorks helps place low-income adults in jobs, assists children and youth with college guidance services, helps families stay out of the shelter system, provides services to people with HIV/AIDS, and supports the growing immigrant population. The organization used to be called the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The Bronx Food Summit, being hosted by Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr., will take place on Saturday May 1st at Hostos Community College (450 Grand Concourse) from 9am to 5pm. The event will begin at 10am with a keynote address by the Bronx's own sustainable genius Majora Carter.
Attendees can choose from an impressive variety of workshops that range from hands-on cooking demonstrations, learning how to compost food scraps to reduce landfill waste, conversations about getting healthier foods at bodegas and neighborhood stores, and learning about food-coops and community supported agriculture as alternatives to existing food systems. There's also a workshop track targeted for children and young adults.
The Summit will feature a number of notable Bronx celebrities: Hip Hop icons Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Melle Mel, and Popmaster Fabel, as well as Bronx foodie favorite Baron Ambrosia.
Interested attendees can register online or the morning of between 9-10am.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
April 10th, unlike last year, a bright, sunny, crispy cold Saturday morning played host to the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center Baseball season opening parade. MMCC's megaphone welding high energy Bob Altman, led the participants who started at 3450 Dekalb Ave. The parade went north on Jerome Ave then made a left into wooded Van Cortlandt park, finally ending at a lush green baseball field. State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, City Council member Oliver Koppell walked with the little leaguers and pitched the ceremonial opening balls. As always, it was a pleasure making photographs of my neighbors, I hope you enjoy the slide show.
Please click on the photos to view them larger with captions. Not all photos have names, if you leave me information in the comments, I'll add it to the photo captions.
By REBECCA THOMAS
Councilman Fernando Cabrera had harsh words on Monday for the Department of Education, which continues to be unreceptive to his proposal to keep University Heights Secondary School in his district.
"The DOE has been duplicitous in their dealings with my office and our constituency,” said Cabrera in a statement released that morning. “They never intended to prevent the move of University Heights and falsely gave the impression that they were willing to negotiate with CUNY and the community in order to provide the best for the kids. It is time they be held accountable.”
The school is located on the Bronx Community College campus in University Heights, but will have to leave because BCC - a CUNY college - needs the space in time for the new school year.
On Monday afternoon, the councilman and 13 students from the school gathered at the corner of 179th Street and Jerome Avenue for a press conference. They stood outside a newly constructed four-story building that Cabrera described as “ideal” for the school but which the DOE has rejected in favor of the South Bronx High School campus in Morrisania.
Cabrera says he suggested the 179th Street site in January after the DOE had said that the lack of suitable buildings was the obstacle to keeping the school in the local area. The building is a five-minute walk from University Heights Secondary School's current site, but Cabrera's proposal was greeted with inaction.
“They asked me to find a building. I found a building, but now nothing!” he said at the press conference. “Don’t ask me to do something if you know at the end that there is no hope!”
The Bronx News Network is a media sponsor of the annual "Bursting with Pride" celebration/fundraiser put on by the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), the primary social and recreational hub in Norwood.
We would like to encourage all of our readers to join the celebration. It will be fun and contribute to a good cause.
Proceeds from the event will go toward funding the invaluable programming that the community center provides, often at no cost or low cost, to the local residents it serves. In addition to Norwood, MMCC serves several other neighborhoods through its satellite locations. Due to budget cuts at the city and state level, the community center needs as much help as it can get to continue to provide the programming it has provided since 1942.
The event will be held Thursday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lehman College Music Building, 250 Bedford Park Blvd.
For more information on tickets and sponsorships, call (718) 882-4000, ext. 317 or for more information on the Community Center, visit mmcc.org.
[Updated, April 29, 1:10 p.m.]
Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, the Fordham Hill activist taking on Pedro Espada for the 33rd Senate District seat, is hoping to raise $100,000 at fundraiser hosted by Cathy and Marc Lasyr, two big-time Democratic donors, at their Upper Eastside home, according to a report by the Daily News' Celeste Katz.
The event is scheduled for May 26.
Pilgrim-Hunter is looking to make up a mountainous fund raising deficit. According to her actblue.com web page, she's raised $6,183 so far. (That's only online contributions, according to Yorman Nunez, a campaign adviser. That doesn't include how much Pilgrim-Hunter has raised through other events like house parties, but Nunez wouldn't disclose that amount.)
Espada, on the other hand, has raised $304,450, according to his latest state campaign finance filings.
Yesterday, the attorney general's office filed another civil suit against embattled State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. Espada and one of his sons set up a sham training program in order to pay janitors as little as $1.70 an hour, the office alleges. Espada claims (as he did last week) that Andrew Cuomo is bullying him. More here.
Despite claiming to be a strong advocate for tenants' rights, Espada has deep ties to the the real estate industry, which - through campaign contributions - has helped shape his agenda as chair of the Senate's housing committee, argues the Village Voice's Tom Robbins.
An assistant principal at Bronx Science habitually harassed teachers under her, often reducing them to tears, an independent report has found. But Rosemary Jahoda will likely keep her job after the Department of Education dismissed most of the reports findings.
The first ever Bronx Food Summit is being held next Monday at Hostos Community College.
A new City Council bill could force the NYPD to publish traffic accidents and summonses statistics online.
A 20-year-old Bronx man has been charged with attempted murder following a night of violence in Midtown in Easter Day. Police say Rayvon Guice fired his gun into a group of people, injuring two men.
In a lawsuit, a former waitress at the Lobster Box in City Island says was sexually harassed by her supervisor, and fired when she complained.
A new playground has opened in Parkchester.
Students and teachers at Herbert Lehman High School, a 4,500-student school in the east Bronx, have been told that permanent metal detectors are to be installed, following several recent fights and an uptick in gang activity.
Yesterday, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.'s Kingbridge Armory task force toured the mammoth building.
Charlie Ramos of the group "Bronx for Change" is after State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr.'s seat. More on Ramos here and here.
City comptroller John Liu has created a task force to examine how developers deliver community benefit agreements. Among the aims: more transparency.
Fernando Aquino, a political consultant who often works with Bronx politicians and wannabe Bronx politicians, was interviewed recently on the Perez Notes radio show.
A former Bronx police officer talks about his new(ish) career as an arborist at the New York Botanical Garden.
Coqui Mexicano, a restaurant in Melrose, won't close after all. [via BoogieDowner]
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Above is a clip of State Senator Jose M. Serrano, who represents the south Bronx and east Harlem, in Albany denouncing Arizona's new immigration law and calling for comprehensive immigration reform, saying the current system destroys families.
Then, just a few minutes ago, the senator's father, Bronx Congressman Jose E. Serrano sent out a statement calling for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star game, scheduled to be held in Phoenix, "due to the extremist anti-immigrant law enacted last week in Arizona."
Serrano said there's precedent for this type of stance. The NFL rescinded its offer to hold the Super Bowl in Arizona in 1993 after the players union warned that it would not play in a state that didn't honor the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., which it didn't at the time.
Serrano said: “This anti-immigrant law is unjust, wrong-headed, mean-spirited, and unconstitutional. It is important that everyone who believes in justice and our national spirit of decency speak out against this measure. MLB has a very loud megaphone and their rejection of Arizona’s action would be an important demonstration to the state that we do not tolerate such displays of intolerance in our nation.”
As we've been indicating here over the past several days and as confirmed on Liz Benjamin's State of Politics blog, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has endorsed activist Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter in her bid to unseat embattled State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr.
There's no doubt Pedro Espada's been getting his fair share of bad press lately. Both the New York Times and the Daily News published editorials last week condemning the state senator for the civil charges brought against him by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
But not everyone is down on Espada. He's drawn support from some, and recently doled out a number of member item grants to fund community groups and projects.
We received this letter last week from PS 86 principal Sheldon Benardo, via Espada's press person Frank LaBoy, who passed it on to us with Bernardo's permission:
As a long-time public school principal in Pedro Espada's senatorial district I find the charges against him dismaying and your editorial characterization of him disturbing. The Pedro Espada known well to his constituents and to this community is an elected official who organizes food pantries, advocates for tenants, intercedes in immigration issues, supports his local schools and brings home grants to the Bronx. We all are entitled to the presumption of innocence, including Pedro Espada.
P.S. 86, Bronx
Espada recently gave PS 86 students $25,000 for a trip to Japan in May, where they'll learn about Japanese culture and get to meet their Japanese penpals. This week's issue of the Norwood News has a story on the trip and on Espada's role in funding it.
Two weeks ago, Espada showed up at a Community Board 6 meeting and presented checks to the board itself and two other local organizations. Tanima Productions, a nonprofit that runs dance and creative arts programs for children and teens, got $25,000 from the senator. He also presented $30,000 to the after-school and day camp programs at Tremont United Methodist Church, and $58,000 to the community board.
"It was a good gesture on his part, because you know community boards are struggling," said Ivine Galarza, district manager for CB6 (funding for the city's community boards were cut by 7 percent this year). But this week, however, Galarza is concerned that she does not yet have an official letter.
Espada also recently helped the Fordham Road Business Improvement District in the form of a $100,000 state grant.
Looking for a job where you can make a difference and help build BxNN and bring even more local news to more people? This might be the perfect opportunity for you or someone you know ...
The Bronx News Network, a nonprofit organization, publishes hyper-local community newspapers and websites for underserved Bronx neighborhoods. The Network is looking for ad sales representatives to build our publications, help local businesses access affordable advertising and take our organization to the next level. The Bronx communities we serve are comprised of bustling commercial areas with thousands of prospective advertisers. There is tremendous room for growth. Spanish, Bronx knowledge and sales experience all pluses. Salary is commission based, though initial hourly wage is possible.
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More than 14 months later, the Valentine's Day murder of Norwood native Michael Lorge remains unsolved. In our narrative, we take you from the events leading up to the early morning execution-style slaying through the investigation and aftermath.
As State Senator Pedro Espada fends off charges by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, two Democratic challengers have thrown their hats in the ring.
A local immigration help center says it is doing its best to educate immigrants on the value of filling out their census forms.
Montefiore Medical Center is vocally joining city and state health officials, unions and advocates, in the push to implement the so-called "soda tax."
We take a look inside the half-built $3 billion Croton Filtration Plant project in Van Cortlandt Park.
Dozens went on a bike ride in the memory of health advocate Megan Charlop who died in a March bike accident.
Plus, our high school baseball preview and much more.
In a phone interview, the assemblyman said he’s still weighing his options and will make a decision in the coming weeks. Should he opt to run, Benjamin would be giving up his state Assembly post in the 79th District, where he’s been since 2003, to challenge the federal seat currently occupied by Congressman Jose E. Serrano, who’s held the position for the past two decades.
“Over the last 20 years of the congressman’s tenure the Bronx has remained [home to] the nation’s poorest congressional district,” Benjamin said of Serrano. “To me, that’s not a badge of honor.”
Benjamin said his number one priority would be to use a congressional seat to bring funding into the 16th District—which makes up large portions of the west and south Bronx—to boost the area’s economy.
Benjamin went on to praise some of Serrano’s work, like his role in funding and fighting environmental justice issues, but said it wasn’t enough.
“The congressman has done good things,” he said. “But many more Bronx residents would prefer to be working, to be able to see their families have access to good quality medical care, higher performing public schools.”
“I always believe a federal legislator has a responsibility to try to solve some of these actions,” he continued.
Patrick Jenkins, who works for Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Carl Heastie, said he’s not sure if Benjamin’s congressional ambitions are serious.
“The chairman is not convinced that there is an actual run--that Benjamin will actually be running against Congressman Serrano. Until there’s a definitive word either way, it’ll be hard to pass judgment,” Jenkins said.
“I can tell you this: the chairman unequivocally supports Congressman Serrano in an election, and would support Michael Benjamin in his re-election.”
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Yesterday, President Obama met with the Yankees at the White House, where he singled out a few of them for their community service and charity work.
A Yonkers man who gave police a DNA sample after a drink-driving incident last year has been charged with the long-ago murders of three women, two of whom were from the Bronx. (Just last month, following another DNA breakthrough, a serial killer already serving time was charged with the 1981 murder of a Bronx woman.)
On Saturday, a not entirely successful soda buyback event was held at Richard R. Green Middle School in the north Bronx, in support of the proposed "soda tax." (Earlier this month, Dr. Steven Safyer, president of Montefiore Medical Center, made an impassioned plea for the tax's implementation. Supermarkets and beverage companies, meanwhile, are fighting against it - they claim it would unfairly burden low-income families.)
BronxWorks (formerly the Citizens Advice Bureau) is holding its annual fundraiser at the Yankee Stadium on Saturday. Bill Aguado, a long-time BronxWorks board member and the former executive director of the Bronx Council on the Arts, is among the honorees.
Speaking of the Bronx Council on the Arts, the group is looking to move to Westchester Square from their current location in Morris Park.
State Senator Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) has been talking to his Democrat and Republican colleagues about a possible resolution which could strip the scandal-hit Pedro Espada of his majority leader post.
With Espada in trouble, will Community Board 6 still get the $58,000 in discretionary money he's promised them? (Espada announced the allocation at last month's board meeting. He also presented ceremonial checks to Tanima Productions, which runs after-school programs, and Tremont United Methodist Church.)
Marc Sternberg, the former principal of Bronx Lab, a high school on the Evander Childs campus, has landed a high-up job at the Department of Education where he'll be in charge of designing, selecting, and placing new schools. (Sternberg, by the way, is a huge fan of mayoral control.)
On Thursday night, a community meeting is being held in Mott Haven to help address gun violence in the Bronx.
A 75-year-old Morrisania man has been missing since last Tuesday. Vincent Durso suffers from early-stage dementia.
Pompeii Lounge, a nightclub on East Tremont Avenue, is a terrible neighbor, say local residents who tell stories of noisy revelers, brawls, and gun fights.
Recently, scores of middle school students at Riverdale Country School attempted to survive without their cell phones for two whole days.
Coqui Mexicano, a restaurant in Melrose, is in danger of losing its lease. Local residents and community groups are doing their upmost to make sure this doesn't happen. [via BoogieDowner]
Mo Gridder’s famous BBQ trailer is for sale.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Congressman Jose Serrano released a statement on Friday criticizing a new immigration law in Arizona which gives the authorities increased powers to identify, prosecute, and deport illegal immigrants.
It is a sad day when any state makes racial profiling and discrimination the law. This is a deeply flawed measure that singles out a specific group for harassment.
Our nation has a long tradition of welcoming immigrants, but today the government of Arizona turned their back on that tradition in favor of anti-immigrant grandstanding.
We all know that the only way to bring immigrants out of the shadows is to enact comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.
Laws like this give greater urgency to our work to pass a humane, non-punitive comprehensive immigration reform package. The time has come for action, before this law becomes a model for other anti-immigrant activists and is replicated elsewhere.
It's a cloudy day in the BX, perfect for catching up on some Bronx news!
While filming for Channel 2's "Eye of New York," embattled State Senator Pedro Espada exited the building mid-interview when confronted with allegations that he isn't a Bronx resident.
Top Democratic donor Bill Samuels announced that he will direct up to $250,000 toward defeating Senator Espada in this year’s election. Samuels heads the New Roosevelt Initiative.
No more free rides for a Bronx man who held an illegal copy of an all-access- subway key. He was caught by the police peddling $2 rides for people waiting in line for a MetroCard.
An apartment complex on Grand Avenue in Morris Heights might be in for an new look thanks to Bronx-born Francine Kellman of Pacific Housing Advisors. She plans on renovating the building without replacing tenants or raising rent.
After two decades of calling Bronx Community College's campus home, University Heights High School is to be relocated to the South Bronx, against the wishes of parents, students and teachers. More coverage here in the Mount Hope Monitor.
The Bronx motorcycle club "Legion of Doom" lost its vice president early Saturday when he hit a pothole on Magenta Street in Bronxwood.
Environmentalist Majora Carter plans on infusing a Hunts Point apartment building with a fragrance that will make it smell like green grass rather than the local sewage plant.
A Bronx fisherman was rescued just in time after spending 40 minutes in the chilly waters of Eastchester Bay.
School Chancellor Joel I. Klein is in a high-stakes battle with the teachers' union over seniority rules. If the rules remain, the newest teachers will be the first to lose their jobs if the expected layoffs go through. Klein wants to change this, the union wants to keep things the way they are.
ATM scam artists are targeting Bronx residents. Read more here.
Andrew Cuomo would prefer Bill Thompson over Adolfo Carrion as his lieutenant governor, Crain's reports.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
If there's one word that best describes the Yankees' West Coast roadtrip, it would be "testy."
First, the Athletics' Dallas Braden got mouthy with Alex Rodriguez, because AROD ran across the pitcher's mound on his way back to first after a foul ball. There was some serious back and forth screaming, and after the game Braden claimed Rodriguez broke an "unwritten rule."
Like a religious extremist who was told the plot of a South Park episode, Braden overreacted big time.
Various player-reactions from around baseball, make this seem like one of those "unwritten rules" that only some guys know about. In fact, the guys who said AROD was being disrespectful tended to be former hothead-pitchers, and everyone else seemed unaware.
And how about Mark Teixeira's shoulder tackle of Angels catcher Bobby Wilson?
Up 2-1 in the top of the third on Thursday, Teixeira sprinted from second base to home on a Robinson Cano line drive single. The play ended in collision...
So, there are a couple ways to look at this. On the one hand, Teixeira had just been hit by a pitch, and is known for his — let's say, forceful — responses to being hit.
The Angels' Torii Hunter summed up this view:
Going by that logic, this was a vicious and pretty unnecessary hit.
"It's early in the game, the third inning, and you don't expect something like that," Hunter said. "The guy's upset. He's on a mission. Tex is a great guy, but even good guys get upset sometimes. I've been there."
Teixeira's defense — that even though the ball hadn't gotten to Wilson yet, he had begun to turn as if he had the ball, so Teixeira had little choice. Both managers agreed with this assessment.
That said, I think Torii Hunter was right. Teixeira gets hit by a lot of pitches, and he always seems to take someone out when he does. After being hit by a Vicente Padilla fastball last year, Teixeira slid about six feet East of second base to
Moving on from the violence, here are some great Yankee numbers:
- In the last week, Yankee pitchers have managed a 2.83 era.
- The Yankees have the highest slugging (.455) in the American League, and the second highest on-base percentage (.371).
- They've also got, by far, the most triples (seven already!).
NOTE: Make sure to check back every weekend for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's weekly Yankees opinion column.
For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (http://trueslant.com/grahamkates).
Friday, April 23, 2010
There are, as to be expected, some Espada headlines gracing the papers this morning:
State prosecutors subpoenaed 10 staff members with ties to Espada's Soundview HealthCare Network yesterday.
The state senator's legacy will be Soundview and sushi, says the New York Times. The sushi, like Larry Seabrook's infamous $177 bagel, is in reference to $20,000 worth of take out delivered to Espada's Mamaroneck home, paid for by Soundview. The article goes on to say that Bronx residents still view the health clinic as a valuable resource in the neighborhood, though it's gotten "shabby" in recent years.
Espada defended himself on NY1's "Inside City Hall" last night and on "Good Day New York" this morning.
Meanwhile, Espada's newly announced opponent Desiree-Pilgrim Hunter could be picking up support from two major unions: it's said that both the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and a local chapter of the Transport Workers Union may endorse the candidate.
In other news:
Sustainable South Bronx is approaching its 10 year anniversary. NY1 ran a segment yesterday (earth day) on the group and all the good work it does to green the borough.
A 15-year-old from Throgs Neck is facing 18 months in juvenile detention for driving his family car into a tree in December, killing his 12-year-old neighbor who was in the passenger seat.
Bronx students continue to fight the elimination of free student Metrocards.
David Gonzalez of the New York Times has been investigating a Brooklyn pastor who hired and promised paychecks to hundreds of residents in Brooklyn and the Bronx--but the jobs, and the money, never existed.
BoogieDowner posts about a NYT's article on the new mall in Rego Park, Queens and how it's become an economy booster there. BD alludes to the killed Related Companies' plan at the Kingsbridge Armory and the (albeit minimum wage) jobs that might have been provided for Bronxites, had it survived.
State Senate candidate Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter met yesterday with Israel Rivera, the secretary-treasurer of the TWU Local 100, according to a source close to her campaign.
The meeting was positive and productive, our source said, and Rivera (the union's second in command) is reportedly very happy that Pilgrim-Hunter, a community activist and Fordham Hill resident, is running. (As you've probably heard or read, she's challenging Pedro Espada, Jr., who's had a miserable week following Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's announcement that he's suing him for allegedly stealing $14 million from his non-profit healthcare network. Last night, Espada defended himself on NY1's "Inside City Hall.")
TWU Local 100, a chapter of the Transport Workers Union of America, has 38,000 working members, mostly public transport workers in New York City - bus drivers, subway conductors, station cleaners, and the like. It's one of the most powerful unions in the five boroughs. A formal endorsement, assuming it's forthcoming, would mean plenty of money and resources for Pilgrim-Hunter's campaign come primary season.
According to the Daily News, another labor union, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), is also expected to endorse Pilgrim-Hunter in the near future.
File photo by Adi Talwar
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Daily News Bronx Bureau Chief Bob Kappstatter was Gary Axelbank's guest on BronxTalk this past Monday night (before the Espada civil suit was announced).
They had an in-depth discussion about Bronx politics and analyzed some of this fall's Senate and Assembly primary races (who might challenge who, whether the incumbents will get County support, etc.)
Next Monday night at 9 p.m., Public Advocate Bill de Blasio will be the guest. On Monday, May 10 it will be City Comptroller John Liu.
For more than 15 years, BronxTalk has been seen live each week on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67. It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at http://www.bronxnet.org/. Produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. Archives are available at blip.tv; search for "BronxTalk."
On April 16, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, a group that advocates for stricter gun laws, held rallies in Midtown, Harlem, and the Bronx to commemorate the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre.
Outside the Bronx Country Courthouse, volunteers lay down for three minutes to highlight the short length of time it takes to buy a gun in this country, and the speed with which VT student Seung-Hui Cho was able to kill his 32 victims.
April 16 is also the anniversary of a Bronx tragedy: the murder of toddler David Pacheco in Morris Heights on Easter Day 2006. His memory was also honored at the event.
David was sitting in the back of a minivan his mom was driving when a stray bullet tore through one of the doors and hit him in the chest. The crime remains unsolved. Gloria Cruz, president of the Bronx chapter of NYAGV, said she's trying to get "America's Most Wanted" to feature the case.
Next Tuesday, Cruz is travelling to Albany for NYAGV's annual "Sensible Gun Legislation Day" - part of a lobbying effort to encourage legislators to pass tougher laws, such as "microstamping" legislation, which would help police trace guns recovered in crimes. Among those accompanying her will be several high school students from the Bronx Youth Council, which was founded in January by the NYAGV and the borough president's office, following a spate of gun violence in the Bronx last fall.
Yesterday morning, as you've no doubt heard, the FBI and IRS raided State Sen. Pedro Espada's Soundview HealthCare Network. Here's the story that appeared in today's NY Times.
In related news:
Law-enforcement officials tell the NY Post that Espada will likely be indicted on multiple federal charges in the next few weeks.
AG Andrew Cuomo's office has subpoenaed the State Senate in an effort to get its hands on records relating to ten of Espada's Senate employees who have previously worked for Soundview or sat on its board. More here.
The first victims of the Espada fallout could be the thousands of low-income patients who rely on his health clinics.
Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. thinks Espada should relinquish his majority leader position, as do senators Neil Breslin (D-Albany) and Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn). (Espada, remember, doesn't have much time for borough presidents, despite running for the office himself in 2001.) UPDATE: 6 p.m.: We missed this: Sen. Eric Schneiderman is also calling on Espada to step aside.
Espada could face two or more candidates in September's Democratic primary. Desiree-Pilgrim Hunter, a community activist, has already announced her decision to run (here's a write-up she received in today's Times) and Daniel Padernacht, a lawyer and community board member, is also considering it. More on Padernaht here.
Away from Espada:
The lowdown on why a lawsuit filed by Legal Services NYC could have far reaching implications for landlords and tenants nationwide. (The suit is part of an effort to force a bank to maintain ten rundown Bronx apartments building, which went into foreclosure last year when a private equity firm defaulted in its mortgage.)
Two Bronx men charged with the fatal beating of an Ecuadorian immigrant in Brooklyn in 2008, laughed about it afterwards, according to a relative of one of the men.
In a video posted on YouTube, students at University Heights Secondary School are requesting that President Obama stop their school's relocation to the South Bronx High School campus.
Students from MS 15 in University Heights have won a national chess tournament in Minneapolis.
Sections of Harris Field, a heavily-used park sandwiched between Bronx High School of Science and Lehman College, were found to have four times the federally-established legal limit of lead contamination for public play areas, according to documents obtained by the Norwood News with the help of the nonprofit New York City Park Advocates.
In October, the Norwood News discovered soil contamination had been found at Harris Field. At the time, the Parks Department was in the middle of construction on an extensive overhaul of the park’s playfields.
Construction has stalled since while the Parks Department completes mitigation of the contaminated areas, an undertaking that will cost $5.2 million. The mitigation pushes the price tag on the project to nearly $13.9 million.
The contamination reports were created by KAM Consultants, an environmental consulting and testing firm that operates out of Long Island City, and completed in mid-October.
The Norwood News filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for all documentation related to the contamination, which advocates say should have been discovered by the Parks Department before construction even began.
It remains unclear when the contamination was first discovered.
It has been more than 120 business days since the Norwood News first filed the FOIL request. Initially, the Parks Department estimated it would take 60 business days to complete the request. The Parks Department did not respond to several attempts to find out why the documents were not forthcoming.
Today, after the Norwood News contacted the agency to tell them we were in possession of the toxicity reports, the Parks Department’s records access officer, Justin Carroll, said he would send over the documents via fax as soon as possible.
“What this is indicative of is that the city knew about this for years, because of the site [the Department of Environmental Protection noted that Harris Field was said to have high levels of lead in 2004] and they rushed this through without doing their due diligence,” said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, public play areas must be mitigated if the soil contains a lead contamination level of 400 parts per million. One area of Harris Field was found to have a level of 1,754 parts per million, according to the KAM’s toxicity reports.
Out of 15 samples taken, 13 contained levels above the federal standards for public play areas and five exceeded contamination levels of more than 1,000 parts per million.
Jeff Kuperman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, said the highest levels found were alarmingly high. He said the Parks Department should have tested for contamination before starting construction to protect workers at the site. He was incredulous when told the agency had only discovered the contamination when construction was in full-swing.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So onto this week's big story: the burgeoning scandal surrounding Pedro Espada, Jr. and the lawsuit filed yesterday by the Attorney General's office against his Soundview Healthcare Network. A lot's gone down in the last 24 hours.
We'll start with the most recent: early this morning, agents from the FBI, the IRS and AG Cuomo's office raided Espada's Soundview offices on White Plains Road, on the grounds of a federal search warrant, according to the Times' City Room Blog. The article also mentions that "A law enforcement official said the investigation would have criminal implications." So far, the charges brought against Espada by the AG's office have been civil, not criminal.
Despite the raids, business at the Soundview clinic appears to be operating as usual, according to the article. The Daily News spoke to a few of the center's patients, who had nothing but praise for the clinic itself but were less enthusiastic about its founder and CEO.
While Espada's spokesman didn't return a call for comment yesterday, the senator held a press conference in Albany last night to offer his side of the story. According to the Times Union's Capitol Blog, Espada spoke for 12 minutes and answered three reporters' questions before ending the session.
In his statement, Espada called the accusations against him "unfounded," said the lawsuit is political payback for his role in the senate coup last summer, took a personal jab at AG Andrew Cuomo, then went on to praise the accomplishments of Soundview and referenced his own "rent freeze" bill. You can read his whole statement here.
There's a lot of Bronx news today! The big story on everyone's mind is the scandal surrounding Pedro Espada, whose offices were raided this morning by the FBI, the IRS and the Attorney General's office.
We'll have a separate roundup on the whirlwind of Espada stories in just a few minutes--until then, here's some other, non-Espada related news happening in the borough this morning:
A group of tenants in Kingsbridge are suing over unlivable conditions in their Heath Avenue apartment building, which has over 900 open violations. But instead of suing the real estate company that owns the property (which defaulted on its $35 million mortgage last year), the group is filing against the bank that owns the building's mortgage. This new legal approach would hold the bank responsible for the building's upkeep and repairs.
Speaking of banks--two Bronx men are being charged for holding up and robbing a TD Bank in White Plains last month.
Former Giants running back Tiki Barber is ditching plans to headline a fundraiser run at the Bronx Zoo this weekend due to scandals in his personal life (Barber recently split from his pregnant wife and is supposedly dating a former NBC intern). The race, however, will go on as planned (details here).
The Senate’s Task Force on Government Efficiency, chaired by Bronx pol Jeff Klein, released a report today saying that the state's Department of Transportation wasted $210 million in funds, much of it on outsourced work contracts that could have been cheaper if granted to state employees.
Congressman Jose Serrano is renting office space in the historic BankNote building in Hunts Point (there are also rumors that the nearly century-old building, once a site for the production of foreign currency, could soon be home to the Bronx's first brewery).
Charges have been dropped against the Bronx man accused of stalking Oprah Winfrey's best friend, Gayle King, at her Connecticut home.
Two Bronx men are being tried in a Brooklyn court this week for allegedly beating a man to death in Bushwick last year because they thought he was gay, according to the NY Post.
A rally is being planned this Thursday at Bartow Community Center in Co-Op City to protest proposed cuts to bus lines by the MTA.
BoogieDowner reports that grocery delivery service FreshDirect is now serving customers in Westchester by driving through the Bronx--though it currently does not deliver to the borough, to the frustration of many Bronxites.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
It's only Tuesday, but it's been a bad week so far for Pedro Espada, Jr. A number of news outlets over the last few days reported that two consulting firms linked to the senate majority leader are being investigated for money laundering and tax fraud.
Today, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office announced a lawsuit against Espada and 19 other people associated with his Soundview Healthcare Network, a non-profit for which the senator serves as founder and CEO.
According to a press release, the lawsuit alleges that Espada diverted $14 million from the charity--which gets a lot of its funding from the state and federal governments via taxpayer monies--which he used to line his own pockets, pay family and friends and help fund his political campaign.
“Siphoning money from a charity would be egregious under any circumstances, but the fact that this was orchestrated by the State Senate Majority Leader makes it especially reprehensible," Cuomo said in a statement.
According to the lawsuit, Soundview supposedly footed the bill for about $80,000 on restaurant meals for Espada ($20,000 of which was spent on sushi, frequently delivered to the senator's Westchester home), 14 weeks of annual leave a year, trips for Espada and his family to Miami, Las Vegas, and Puerto Rico, as well as a $90,000 severance clause.
The AG's office says it found ample "improper funding of his political operations" including $100,000 in campaign literature, campaign expenses charged to an American Express card, and $2,500 monthly "housing allowance" for rent on a Bronx co-op where Espada supposedly resides--all paid for by the charity.
The lawsuit alleges that Espada stocked the non-profit's board with a number of family members, close friends and political allies, many of whom were also used to aide his campaign efforts.
Read the AG's summons here. More coverage of the case here.
The Daily News' Celeste Katz liveblogged some of what went on in a conference call with Cuomo this afternoon.
April's edition of the Tremont Tribune is out and online. This month's issue includes:
The Borgatti family, Belmont legends who own Borgatti's Ravioli and Egg Noodles on E. 187th Street, have been making handmade pasta for 75 years.
Family, friends and co-workers of Megan Charlop dedicated a "ghost bike" to the beloved Norwood resident at Crotona and East Tremont Avenues, where she was killed in a biking accident in March.
Two contenders recently jumped into the Senate race to challenge Pedro Espada, Jr.--but experts say a run against the incumbent state senator could be an uphill battle.
Bronx River Alliance volunteers snagged an alewife herring near the River Park dam in West Farms. Sightings of the fish have excited conservationists, who say it's another sign the river's health is rebounding.
Plus: A new library for MS 254 . . . Congressman Jose E. Serrano on student loan reform . . . An interview with Belmont Library manager Danielle Wansi . . . Community Boards fight against budget cuts . . . and some neighborhood happenings in our events calendar.
Yesterday, an new outreach center dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence opened at 198 E. 161st St. There are already Family Justice Centers in Brooklyn and Queens.
Lieutenant Governor Adolfo Carrion? Andrew Cuomo should look elsewhere says the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett.
An alleged mobster has been charged with the 1992 murder of a man on Westchester Avenue.
DaMarcus Beasley, a US soccer star who plays in Scotland, recently compared Glasgow to the Bronx (and not in a good way), according to the Murdoch-owned Sun, Britain's best selling newspaper. The paper falsely claims that the Bronx has had 140 murders this year. The real number is closer to 30. Here's a break down, precinct-by-precinct.
A former police officer has pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Juan Acosta, 34, was working out of the 43rd Precinct in the southeast Bronx when he was caught in a sting last December.
Carmen Baez, the daughter of former Council member Maria Baez, has been fired from her job at the Bronx marriage license bureau, reports the Daily News' Bob Kappstatter in his weekly column.
At this time of year, Woodlawn Cemetery offers outdoor concerts, walking tours, and more.
The Norwood Food Co-op is still accepting members for its 2010 summer share.
A baseball-mad Throgs Neck couple has just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
The MTA says it has no plans to put more ticket-checkers on Bx12 Select Service buses, despite reports of rampant fare-beating.
The young and very talented Highbridge Voices Chamber Choir recently visited the White House as part of a music tour of Washington DC.
From Sunday's Times: A non-descript block near the Yankee Stadium carries the name of Yankees legend Thurman Munson, but people around there don't seem to know who he was.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Two consulting firms with links to State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. are the subject of a federal probe into alleged tax fraud and money laundering, numerous newspapers and blogs are reporting.
One firm, A-1 Multi-Service LLC, seems to exist in name-only. According to state records it's located at 2384 Hughes Ave. in Tremont, but that address is only home to apartments and a cigar shop. (Here's a photo.)
The other firm, GDP Consulting in Niagara Falls, shares an address with an accounting business with ties to Steve Pigeon, Espada's senate counsel.
News reports say Pigeon and Espada's son, Pedro G. Espada, are also part of the investigation.
Specifically, the feds are looking into why GDP Consulting paid A-1 Multi-Service tens of thousands of dollars in the last nine months or so.
This afternoon, at a press conference in Albany, Sen. Espada denied having any connection to A-1, but wouldn't say if his son did. He called the allegations 100 percent false and said they were politically motivated. (At the weekend, Desiree Prigrim-Hunter, a Bronx community activist, formally announced that she would run against him this fall.)
For more on all of this, see here, here, here, and here.
According to campaign finance records, A-1 hasn't contributed to Espada's campaign coffers, but, interestingly, it has given $1,000 to his good friend State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. (see p. 2), as well as $150 to Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle. We emailed Diaz's office to find out what that's all about. (Thanks to the BxNN reader who sent us the tip) UPDATE 6:30 P.M.: Last month, Hiram Monserrate, the former state senator and another Espada ally, received $9,600 from GDP Consulting, the STATE of POLITICS blog is reporting.
Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend, now for some Bronx news!
Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo's grandson remains chief of staff even after pleading guilty to embezzling $115,000 from a Bronx nonprofit organization. Richard Izquierdo Arroyo was president of the organization at the time and is due for sentencing in June.
MS 399, located on East184th Street, is among the list of 19 middle schools and high schools Bloomberg has plans to "phase out" due to poor performance. Many of the schools have new principals and have improved but that doesn't take them off the list and it doesn't stop new schools from coming into their buildings to replace them. (This Village Voice piece was written by former Mount Hope Monitor intern Rob Sgobbo.)
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, who is currently the head of the White House Office of Urban affairs is rumored to be interested in running for lieutenant governor. Liz Benjamin says Carrion is bored with his job and has more details here.
The head of the Bronx Detective Bureau has been accused of sexually harassing a detective with unwanted messages and texts.
Bronx community leader Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter has announced that she will challenge State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. in the Democratic primary in the 33rd District. (We were at the announcement and will post more details soon.) Meanwhile, Stuart Appelbaum, head of the retail workers' union, which partnered with Hunter and the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition to defeat the city's plans to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a mall, is poised to endorse Pilgrim-Hunter.
Two men were found shot on Friday in the Edenwald section of the Bronx. Both were rushed to Jacobi Medical Center where one was pronounced dead and the other is in critical but stable condition.
Latinos Wanted! The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has enrolled 2,000 Bronx participants and is looking for 2,000 more for its Hispanic Community Health Study. The Bronx is among the four sites chosen by the NIH.
As of last Wednesday the Bronx census mail-back rate was third in the city.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
First, I think it's important to start off by apologizing to David Robertson. I have a long history of jinxing things, and poor Robertson never stood a chance. Just two days after I hailed the young reliever for giving up just one run since August, he fell victim to a grand slam.
I'm sorry, Dave.
But, if mentioning how good someone is in this column ruins them, maybe we can make it work the other way. So, the two Nicks — Johnson and Swisher — are struggling to come by hits. Johnson's pulling down a .158 average, and Swisher is hitting a clean .200. They just look bad.
If the world of baseball production really does revolve around me (and c'mon, it so obviously does), then the Nicks should start kicking into high gear pretty soon.
Time for a Yankees, Unobstructed first — talking about stuff that has nothing to do with the Yankees, at all.
Normally we don't talk about other teams on the Bronx News Network. But today an exception needs to be made. Last night the Mets and Cardinals played a 6 hour 53 minute, 20 inning, 120 out game. There are so many great numbers to pull from the affair.
Here are some good ones (courtesy of the sporting news):
Today's completely useless trivia — courtesy of ESPN, who was obviously just trying to kill an extra three seconds — last night's Ubaldo Jimenez no-hitter was the first by anyone whose name starts with "U."
- 11: Number of consecutive innings Francisco Rodriguez warmed up before entering the game in the 19th and blowing a save. Look, I said the Castillo bunt may have been Manuel's nadir.
- 110: Number of outs recorded before Jose Reyes became the first runner to score, on a Jeff Francoeur sacrifice fly in the 19th inning.
- 0: Number of times on base, combined, by Francoeur and Jason Bay in 14 at-bats.
- 2: Number of entire NBA playoff games (Hawks-Bucks and Celtics-Heat) played during Cardinals-Mets.
Back to the Yankees
This week the Yankees are heading to Oakland and Anaheim. I don't know if it's the Pacific air, the sushi snobbery or maybe distraction from being so near In-n-Out, but for the last couple of years the Yankees have been less than great on West coast roadtrips. Consider this a good test of their mettle. If they can pull two of three from both Oakland and Anaheim, then we can really feel comfortable with this April success.
NOTE: Make sure to check back every weekend for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's weekly Yankees opinion column.
For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (http://trueslant.com/grahamkates).