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Monday, January 3, 2011

Bronx News Roundup, Jan. 3

Happy New Year everyone.  Here's some Bronx news from the last few days:

The Riverdale Press looks back at the year that was in Riverdale and Kingsbridge.

The Times has an article about prostitutes plying their trade near an elementary school in West Farms. It was written by a student at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and was developed from a piece she wrote for Bronx Ink.

State Sen. Jeff Klein has resigned as Democratic deputy minority leader. He claims he was "disgusted" with the conference's actions under John Sampson's leadership. Some Albany insiders, however, say Klein was pushed out. Regardless, Sampson looks likely to hold onto his job.

Parking meter rates in Manhattan and Queens are about to be raised. The new rates won't hit the Bronx until March.

Police have charged an ex-con with attempted murder and other offenses after he allegedly tried to shoot another man following a parking dispute in Harlem on Saturday. The intended target was uninjured, but one of the bullets grazed the head of a 13-year-old boy.

Last Wednesday, a Bronx teen was knocked down and killed after straying onto the Bruckner Expressway. Police say Malik Jenkins, 18, was being chased by a group of young men intent on harming him.

A Bronx grandmother was struck and killed on the Hutchinson River Parkway on Saturday.  Marcia Clarke-Hinton was being driven by her daughter when their car span out. She was hit when she exited the vehicle.
A five-year-old boy from the Bronx who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident four months ago, has finally been released from hospital.  At the time, doctors feared Joshua Saunders wouldn't survive.

A woman was found murdered in her Longwood apartment last Wednesday.  Police believe her husband was responsible, and are asking anyone with information about his whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers.

Alan Grayson, a congressman from Flordia who was raised in the Bronx, is leaving office on Wednesday, and has parting shots for Democratic and Republicans alike.

A hike through Manhattan and the Bronx by way of the sewer system. See here and here.

Michael Benjamin, the now-ex assemblymember, says the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory should have been turned into a mall. He told Crain's: “We can't constantly keep saying no while making unreasonable demands. We need to put out the signal that the Bronx is a good place to do business.” The Crain's article is subscription only, but you can access it by Googling the headline: "New tack needed as Bronx bombs."
(Most Bronx pols say the City Council was right to reject Related Companies mall plan in late 2009. A recent Norwood News editorial makes the same argument.) 

Two blogger claims NIMBYism ("not in my backyard") is motivating those opposing plans to turn the Muller Army Reserve Center into a homeless shelter.  You can read more about the opposition here.

A year ago, The Times profiled a group of Bhutanese refugees living in a University Heights apartment building. Now, many of the families have made the decision to move on

The city's Environmental Protection Agency has released new guidelines for schools handling and removing  light fixtures contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In 2009, a Bronx mother filed a lawsuit after high levels of the toxin were found at a Co-op City school. 

More on the ongoing renovation of the Edgar Allan Poe cottage, including plans for a "wacky" visitor center.  You can read the Norwood News' coverage of the renovation here.

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  1. What a piece of work Michael Benjamin is. As an Assemblymember he represented a district that was economicially bereft when he first took office and was just as bad, if not worse, when he finally quit on it. He has some damn nerve to talk publicly about what's best for economic development in the Bronx when he had his chance and did nothing with it. Where are the malls in that district? Where are the banks after his years representation?

    Also, this shows you the level of journalism you get from Crain's when it comes to the Bronx. They allowed him to make those statements without accurately describing the source. They refer to him as a "local Assemblyman". In fact, since the article is dated January 2, he's a FORMER Assemblyman. That leads to an important qualification in the crediblity of his comments and they are are irresponsible for not having made that clear.

  2. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion, as for the former Assemblyman he like anyone else can express his opinion, just like the folks who were against making it a mall expressed their and killed the project without having a viable alternative in place. Either way the bottom line is we are in 2011 and no plans are in place for the Armory.

  3. I don't agree with you. Let's cue up the personal attack. So sad, Gax.

    Where is Rubencito's economic development by which we can judge him?

  4. i put my name on my comments. y'all should have the guts to do that also.

    to the first anonymous, i would defend mr. benjamin's or anyone's right to say what they want and i have done so in writing, most recently in a letter to the riverdale press.

    but that's not the issue here. he can say whatever he wants. i don't have to agree with it, though.

    the issue comes down to someone in a glass house throwing stones. mr. benajmin's district has been woefully under-developed and it's striking to me that he would make a public statement on the subject criticizing others. that's why i am nauseated by his comment to crain's.

    i disticntly recall when he first got elected he said on my show that his goal was to bring a bank or banks to his district. now that he is no longer in office, his former constiuents are still waiting. that's what's sad, anonymous 2. not my calling him out on it.

    further, this is not a personal attack of any sort. it's based on fact and i would say it of any public official who had a similar track record.... and you know that to be true. so let's not interpret strong words in the wrong way.

    as far as the BP's plans for the armory, my personal deadline is the late spring. that's when i've been told there will be a proposal. to me, that's not an unreasonable amount of time to wait given the complexities of what is being attempted.

    if it goes past that and there's still a wait and see, i will probably be the first and the loudest complainant. i guess you softees would call that a personal attack, too.

    grow up everyone. it's the real world. our elected officials are hired to do a job for us. if they don't do it and then quit before the job is finished, as mr. benjamin did, then we all ought to be speaking out, not just me.

    it's funny how i get the finger pointed at me a lot because i say what i think. the cowardly anonymous writers on this blog certainly have no guts. stand up for what you believe in for goodness sakes!

  5. oh and let me also add, if that's how he felt, how come mr. benjamin didn't come out against the KB armory vote when he was still in office and had some authority to back up his comment? if he felt that way, as an elected representative, he should have made make public statements then and attempted to lead others. tha's what a public official ought to be doing. but he didn't, so now he does it well after the fact? talk about cowardly.

  6. Not to belabor the point but the Kingsbridge Armory was not in my former Assembly district. When I worked as a legislative director for then-Council Member Carrion, I had shared my opposition to using the facility for schools. I long favored demolishing the eyesore. Landmark designation was a serious mistake. I made Carrion aware of my opinion. And as a staff person, all it was only "my opinion."

    The Crain's reporter called me for my thoughts. The fact that the article was printed after my term expired is due to an editorial decision that neither Ms. Yensi nor I had any control over.

    Like you, I am profoundly disappointed that I was unable to bring a full-service bank to Morrisania. I was able, however, to amend the banking development law to allow a second bank to enter the Morrisania banking development district. The high rate of poverty and the lack of a strong business corridor in Morrisania discouraged many banks I negotiated with from locating there.

    The living wage issue is a red herring for those who want the Kingbridge Armory used for schools and community centers. Compelling Related Companies to require that their tenants pay a living wage was inappropriate, if not unconstitutional. The UFCW and the RSDWU are free to organize the workers into a collective bargaining unit. If so designated, the unions can bargain for living wages and benefits. To do so by compelling Related Companies to be a proxy was out-of-bounds.
    --Michael Benjamin

  7. Lastly, GAX who are you to decide when an officeholder can quit? You sit in the peanut gallery complaining about fossils, egotists or "do-nothings" staying in office too long. Now, you think I left too soon because I didn't fulfill my only promise to bring a bank back into Morrisania (Claremont Village to be exact). During my term of office I got the limit on charter schools lifted twice; I relaxed the barbering/cosmetology license requirements for ex-felons; I required that NYCHA actively purge their tenant rolls of sex offenders; amended the election law so voter complaints can be more easily lodged and resolved; worked with my colleagues to secure more education dollars for NYC public schools; passed legislation assisting homeowners threatened with foreclosure; and other accomplishments too numerous to post.

    At least, I have had the courage of my convictions and served my community. My belief in a citizen legislature is not some talking point, civics lesson or thirty minute public access TV show. Why don't you strap it on, bucko!
    -- Michael Benjamin

  8. There are plenty of issues here to respond to. But, I'll just take this one:. I strap it on every week when I do that TV show, shedding light on issues that otherwise don't get covered at all or at least in an intelligent and responsible manner. This includes providing access to candidates and elected officials so that the public can actually feel some kind of connection to the people who represent them. There is no secret, nor doubt about that. Also, i needn't make any apologies on the level of service I have delivered to the Bronx as a private citizen, whether speaking out or writing about issues, many of them controversial that others won't touch, or attending community meetings, or consulting with elected officials or groups that frankly many of their representatives won't even talk to. This is who I am and what I do and everyone knows it, including you.


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