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Monday, February 28, 2011

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 28

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Short round-up today ...

Former State Senator Pedro Espada's controversial Bedford Park co-op (he is widely believed to have lived most of the time at his house in Mamaroneck) is up for sale. Shocking.

A part-time counsel for State Senator Jeffrey Klein resigned after the Daily News asked questions about the staffer receiving taxpayer-financed health insurance despite only working 17 hours a week.

Contaminated chicken from Virginia shipped to distribution centers to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Farmingdale has been recalled by the manufacturer.

A 26-year-old father was gunned down in Morrisania on Sunday.

If you're signing for a new phone number in the Bronx (and Brooklyn and Queens) beginning April 16, you may get 929, now that 347, 646, and 917 are close to all used up.

The Riverdale Press beat us to this, but I heard the same thing on my way into work this morning -- loud, melodic ringing at intervals. Reminded me of the sound associated with the 1970s movie E.T. actually. Anyone know what the story is?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bronx Sports Column: A Special Night at Walton, Plus Our Boys HS Tourney Preview

Editor's Note: Today's column breaks down into two parts. The first part is a story I wrote for this week's edition of the Norwood News about the Walton Campus boys basketball team. The second part, written by Selim Khan, is a playoff preview that focuses on the teams from the northwest Bronx. Above, is a slide show from Walton's first round playoff victory last week. Enjoy. And, as always, send me suggestions, feedback, hate mail, photos, video, tips, ideas, whatever, to akratz@norwoodnews.org or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Five Schools, One Team, One Walton Campus Spirit

As the seconds ticked down to zero in the Walton Campus’s thrilling 57-53 home court victory in the first round of the boys basketball city tournament, fans, coiled from the intensity of the game, rushed the court, hugging players and coaches and each other. A group of students formed into a circle centered with spontaneous dancers near midcourt.

They chanted: “Wal-Ton! Wal-Ton! Wal-Ton!”

None of these students attend Walton High School, which, like most large schools in New York City, was phased out in 2008 and gradually replaced over recent years by five smaller schools.

These days, Walton is only the name of the building and campus these schools inhabit. Aside from the building’s walls, sport is the only thing that brings students together as a community.

“When the DOE broke up all the schools, the one thing they didn’t think about was school spirit,” said Eric Swillinger, Walton’s coach and athletic director. “The last bastion of school spirit is campus athletics.”

Diaz: We Won't Let Jersey Snookie Bronx for Hunts Point Market (Video)

The funniest and most over-written part of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.'s state of the borough speech came at about the halfway point, when Diaz began talking about bringing business into the Bronx and holding on to those businesses that are already here. He mentioned the Hunts Point market, which does $2.3 billion in sales annually and is flirting with other suitors while it angles for a better deal in the Bronx. Recently, Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sent his lieutenant governor to woo the market's leadership.

Diaz has been criticized in the past for being ineffective in his attempts to keep Bronx businesses, including the Stella D'oro cookie factory in Kingsbridge, from jumping ship. Yesterday, Diaz attempted to temper that criticism by talking tough (and verbose) about keeping the Hunts Point Market in the Boogie Down.

"I don't know if you've heard the rumors, but while certain Machiavellian municipalities across the Hudson River . . ." Diaz began saying before the crowd started cracking up, as a huge photo of "Jersey Shore" drama queen Snookie (a.k.a Nicole Polizzi) appeared on the projector screen behind him. Here's video shot by BxNN contributor Rachel Sander yesterday:

Diaz vs. Snookie from Alex Kratz on Vimeo.

Bronx Foodie: Thinking Dominican Foods and a Valentine's Day Menu Review

Bronx Foodie is actually on vacation this week, in the Dominican Republic celebrating Carnival and DR's Independence Day. Read on after the jump for 5 foods you should try this weekend in honor of Dominican Independence Day. But first, I had to share the results of my Valentine's Day meal with our readers.

I ended up making almost everything from scratch. The crab cakes appetizer came out tasty, but a little dry. Next time I'll try frying instead of baking them. Then I made grilled skirt steak (in a grill pan), mashed potatoes, and asparagus. The entire entree came out great and I served it with red wine. I decided I wouldn't have time to make the Tiramisu, so my sweet husband went to Arthur Avenue and bought two huge peices from Palombo Bakery. They were delicious.

Now, onto my vacation. By the time you read this, I will be lounging in the sun in beautiful Santo Domingo. But it occurred to me today that I was most excited about the food I'll get to try. And you don't have to travel to the Caribbean to taste great Dominican cuisine. Here are five things that you should try this weekend at your local Dominican Restaurant. They are not exactly the healthiest foods, but if you've been cooking as much as I have, you deserve a treat.

B - to the - R - to the - O - N - X!!! News Roundup, Feb. 25

We're skipping the usual intro today and just giving you the "BX Marks the Spot" hip hop video shown yesterday at Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.'s state of the borough speech yesterday. Produced by Bronxnet's Derek Woods and featuring Opera Steve, Silkedeezy and Steve Kane, the video was created in response to what Diaz Jr. perceived as negative stereotyping of the borough by "American Idol." Enjoy. The Bronx, The Broooooooooooonx!

Story of the Day:
Diaz Jr. spoke at length yesterday about his support for the Fair Wage for New Yorkers Act, also known as the "living wage" bill, which was born out of the battle over wages during the Kingsbridge Armory mall negotiations in 2009. The legislation, sponsored by Bronx council members Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma, would tie city subsidies to wage guarantees. In other words, under this law, if a developer receives city subsidies -- tax breaks, no-interest loans, etc. -- then the companies who move into the devleopment will be required to pay employees who work there, $10 an hour, plus benefits, or $11.50 an hour, without benefits.

City Limits writer Neil deMause sifts through the arguments on both sides of the issue in this hearty piece of in-depth journalism.

A couple of follow-up notes on this: 29 Council members support bill, including everyone in the Bronx delegation aside from Jimmy Vacca. They need five more to create a veto-proof super majority. Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera told me yesterday that they will work hard to get Vacca into the fold, but that the east Bronx representative has a "different constituency" than he and the other Bronx delegates and that the living wage issue isn't as important to them, and consequently, Vacca. "All politics is local," Rivera said. Stay tuned.

Quick Hits:

Local Organizations Part of Effort to Keep Payday Lenders Out of New York

Community and civil rights groups celebrated an important victory earlier this month when Wells Fargo Bank backed off its plan to roll out a high-cost loan product in New York and Connecticut.  Wells Fargo had planned to expand its payday loan-like product to the two states next month through its Wachovia branches, soon to be rebranded as Wells.  

While there is currently only one Wachovia branch in the Bronx, advocates were extremely concerned that this product might have opened the door for wide-scale payday loans in New York State which has long prohibited them through a criminal usury cap of 25%.  Wells Fargo, which charges 120%-1,200% APR on its “direct deposit advance” loans, intended to use its status as a national bank to circumvent New York’s usury law.  

Vehement opposition by neighborhood groups throughout the City, including West Bronx Housing and Neighborhood Resource Center and University Neighborhood Housing Program in the Bronx, as well as by national fair lending advocates, apparently led the bank to reconsider.

In states where Wells Fargo makes its advance loans, checking account customers can borrow up to $500 by signing over their next direct deposit of payroll, Social Security or other public benefits to repay the loan, plus fees.  Just like a traditional payday loan, a borrower living paycheck to paycheck can easily get caught in a downward spiral of excessive fees and interest. 

Notwithstanding Wells Fargo’s decision, the bank reportedly plans to introduce a modified loan product in New York and other states.  Local and national groups have vowed to fight any future loans that violate state usury or other laws. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bronx Building Workers Authorize Potential Strike

To followup on yesterday's post, the 32BJ SEIU chapter that represents thousands of building workers across the Bronx voted last night in favor of a potential strike if contract negotiations with the Bronx Realty Advisory Board, which represents Bronx building owners, are not resolved over the next few weeks.

“Nobody wants a strike, but we’re committed to do what it takes to get workers what they need,” said Union Vice President Kyle Bragg, in a statement. “Working families need wages that keep pace with the city’s high cost of living.”

32BJ SEIU represents superintendents, janitors, handypersons, porters, firepersons, doormen, elevator operators and garbage handlers. The workers already rejected a contract proposal which they say stripped them of health care and retirement benefits.

A press release said that a strike could take place if a contract is not approved by March 15.

Bronx Events: Conspirare in Concert at Jacobi

Conspirare, a five time Grammy-nominated choral group, will preform tonight at Jacobi Medical Center Rotunda at 7 p.m. Tickets are free but should be reserved ahead of time. See the flier below for more information.

Other Bronx events are posted below, in our community calendar.

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

Rev. Diaz Sr. Links Abortion to Genocide

The always vocal State Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., is adding more fuel to the ongoing abortion debate, firing off a press release yesterday that called abortion a form of racial genocide.

"The UN’s definition of genocide includes 'measures intended to prevent births within the group,'" Diaz wrote, in the statement he titled "The Truth About Genocide."

The Rev. cited a recent report from the Dept. of Health which puts the city's abortion rate at 41 percent of pregnancies, with numbers higher in black and Hispanic communities.

"These statistics are staggering," Diaz continued. "It is nothing less than responsible to use the term genocide to define what is happening to our children’s lives."

It's not the first time the Senator's used that strong and controversial term--usually reserved to reference the systematic killing of a racial or ethnic group, i.e. the Holocaust or Rwanda--while voicing his pro-life platform. He made similar comments earlier this month, sparking a New York Times opinion column that called his remarks "nutty." 

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 24

A quick reminder that we will be Tweeting live from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.'s State of the Borough speech today, starting at 11:30 a.m. Check back here for the Twitter feed on the right side of this page or you can follow us through my Twitter account: @norwoodnews.

This morning, in preparation for the speech,  police were already setting up security at DeWitt Clinton High School on Mosholu Parkway and aggressively ticketing and towing cars parked on Goulden Avenue, presumably for violating alternate-side parking rules. News 12 was also setting up a mobile unit. A military officer wearing a beret and camouflage gear walked into the building. Wonder if he'll have a role today.

In any case, tune in today during the brunch hours to our Twitter coverage (on @norwoodnews) and tune in later today and tomorrow for photos as well as more details and analysis.

To the news! (Abbreviated version today. Like one of the borough's congressman at the State of the Union, I need to head out early and get a good aisle seat for maximum exposure during all the broadcast coverage of toady's speech. Maybe I'll even get an autograph or two.)

A preview of today's Diaz's speech, which is expected to draw some 1,500 people, with a focus on how Diaz will call for Bloomberg's support in delivering on a plan for the Kingsbridge Armory.
A report from the wake of 11-year-old Russell Smith, who was killed on the Grand Concourse when he was struck by a passing Honda CRV. Family member and local officials vowed to do something about the borough's most dangerous streets and not let his death be in vain.

The Times takes an in-depth look at how police caught two of the suspects they believe robbed an Arthur Avenue jewelry store last Friday. 

The Daily News has a new Bronx Education column, featuring a story on a pair of PS 86 teachers and their ideas for how the union and city should deal with teacher layoffs. 

More and more Bronxites (and other outer borough dwellers) are commuting to work outside of Manhattan and the city's transit system is struggling to keep up.

Kappy's back this week with juice on Assembly Speaker "Godfather" Shelly Silver's decision to move Bronx Dem boss Carl Heastie into a new post for political reasons and some other stuff.

The Bronx's New York Botanical Garden is teaching teachers how to teach school gardening.

Where are all the movies with great Bronx accents?

An elevator at an apartment building in Highbridge has been out for two months.

The Bronx DA dismissed rape charges against a Haitian immigrant. They realized his accent was too thick to say the threatening words the victim said she heard.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Patrick Boyle, Who Led St. Brendan's, Dies at 70

Msgr. Patrick Boyle on Ash Wednesday at St. Brendan’s in 1997. (J. Moss)
Editor's note: This story appears in this week's edition of the Norwood News, which is out on streets today.

By Jordan Moss

Monsignor Patrick Boyle, the folksy former pastor of St. Brendan’s Church in Norwood, died last week at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer.

Boyle, a Bronx native, spent almost 30 years at St. Brendan’s—first as a priest and then as pastor from 1987 to 2002.

Though he spent the nine years until his death as pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in the Westchester town of Rye, Norwood residents will remember him as one of their own. Forty of them packed a chartered school bus up to Resurrection for a Mass of the Holy Eucharist last Friday, the evening before the funeral Mass.

Boyle had a plain-spoken common touch. Whether he was in the pulpit or in the street, he connected with people in the same low-key but meaningful way. He had a politician’s knack for remembering people’s names and everything else about them. Everyone who knew him seemed to have a story for how Boyle touched their lives.

“He was known as the kind of priest you can talk to,” said the Rev. Thomas J. Mullin, an old friend, who gave the homily at the Friday Mass. Even those who didn’t live in the parish would come see him, Mullin said, adding that he was someone whose priority was helping those who came to him regardless of whether or not it was a convenient time.

“The love was in him,” Mullin said, adding that Boyle, whom he called Paddy, was an “encourager” and a “listener.”

Bronx Building Workers to Vote on Strike

A union that represents maintenance workers in buildings across the borough will hold a vote today to authorize a strike, if necessary, as it continues to negotiate a contract with the Bronx Realty Advisory Board, which represents the building owners.

The workers already rejected a contract proposal from management last week, saying cuts to health care and retirement benefits were unacceptable. A press release from the union threatened a strike if a contract is not agreed upon by March 15.

The 32BJ SEIU union represents more than 3,000 apartment building employees at over 1,000 residential buildings in the Bronx who work as supers, janitors, doormen, elevator operators and garbage handlers.

Remember the serious garbage pile-up during the Co-Op City workers' strike last summer? That one got dirty (literally). We'll keep you posted on this; the vote is set for this evening at 6:15.

Budget Could Hit Local Homeless Program Hard

Editor's note: this article first appeared in the latest issue of the Tremont Tribune, which is on the streets and online now.

Park Avenue Thorpe, a supportive housing building home to 20 formerly homeless families, could be shuttered this year by funding cuts. (Photos by Jeanmarie Evelly)

Digna, a 42-year-old formerly homeless woman and mother of two, has called Park Avenue Thorpe home for the last 11 years. She found refuge in the six-story yellow brick building in Bathgate, where an onsite caseworker helps her balance her bank account, pay her bills and talk to the teachers at her two sons’ schools, as Digna’s English is somewhat shaky.

The building, on East 184th Street, is run by Thorpe Family Residence, a nonprofit that provides supportive housing and services to chronically homeless families in an effort to keep them out of the city’s sprawling shelter system.

But severe funding cuts, proposed to balance the state’s ballooning budget, have put Thorpe and dozens of other programs like it at risk of closure.

“These cuts may be the beginning of the end for us,” said Executive Director Sister Mary Jane Deodati, who oversees the 20 families that call the building home.

Many of Thorpe’s residents are single mothers who have battled addiction, have physical or emotional disabilities or who have been victims of domestic violence. A caseworker helps each tenant with personal finances, with finding jobs and other day-to-day tasks.

“Many of our people are fragile and need constant support,” Deodati said. “If this program is cut, they’re going to be homeless again.”

Kids' Week in the Bronx

The kids are off from school this week for winter break, and chances are they're driving you crazy. In honor of that, the Parks Department is sponsoring a series of kid-friendly events across the city to entertain the little ones.

Head over to the Van Cortlandt Nature Center in Van Cortlandt Park today or Friday for free nature lessons and art and crafts sessions. Call (718) 548-0912 or visit the Parks Dept. website for more information.

More local events can be found in our community calendar, below.

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

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 23

Frigid air in the Bronx this morning eventually gives way to slightly less frigid air this afternoon, but the sun will shine!

A couple of programming notes: The Norwood News, which covers Board 7, hits streets today. We'll trickle out some of the published stories (and some that didn't make the cut) here on BxNN and have them all up on the News' site by the end of the week. Also, we will be Tweeting live (@norwoodnews, and I'll see if we can get it up on this site as well) from the Bronx Borough President's "State of the Borough" speech at DeWitt Clinton high school tomorrow, starting at 11:30 a.m. And look for Bronx Foodie and The Bronx Sports Column, making their triumphant returns on Friday.

To the news!

Story of the Day:
Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. gave a little highlight reel preview of his State of the Bronx speech to NY1's Dean "The Dream." Here's my condensed Sportscenter-like montage of what to expect: "The state of the borough is strong . . .  lots of new housing! look at all of our green roofs! loans are flowing to Bronx businesses! . . . don't worry about the Kingsbridge Armory, trust us, we know taking on the mayor was risky, but we got this under control . . . Listen up, American Idols and Glenn Becks of the world, you're wrong about us, the Bronx is no longer burning, stop the stereotypes or risk a rumble!"

Quick Hits:
Following an infusion of 268,000 cubic yards of sand, Orchard Beach, a.k.a the Bronx Riviera, has its beach body back in shape for summer.

A pair of Bronx cops will not be charged with excessive force, despite video evidence that allegedly shows them roughing up a 19-year-old for riding his bike, says NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Salsa legends Ruben Blades and Gilberto Santa Rosa play Lehman Center on Saturday.

Ida Keeling, a 95-year-old Bronx girl, cruised to victory in the 60-meter sprint competition at a northern Manhattan track meet last week. After taking up running at the age of 67, Keeling's been crushing age-related sprint records ever since.

Speaking of running, congratulations to the Bronx Science boys and DeWitt Clinton girls for their victories in the Bronx indoor high school track and field championships.

Today, angry parents, teachers and elected officials are planning to take their fight to clean up PCB contamination at PS 68 to City Hall.

Gov. Cuomo's budget plan axes state funding to schools for the deaf, blind and severely disabled, including three in the Bronx.

The Post reports that there is new evidence suggesting charter-school students are doing better than public-school students in social studies and science.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bronx Events: BAAD! Self-Defense Workshops

The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, or BAAD, is hosting a series of free self-defense classes aimed for LGBT adults, women and transpeople. The classes start tonight and will run through March as part of the BAAD!ASS Women Festival 2011, which celebrates the empowerment of women through art, culture, and performance.

A full schedule of festival events and performances can be found at here. Call BAAD at 718-842-5223 for more info, or to reserve a spot in a self-defense class.

This and other Bronx events can be found in our community calendar, below.

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

Liquor Authority’s Mistake Paves Way for Bikini Bar

Community leaders are fuming over The Luxury Box,  a new bikini bar in West Farms (Photo by F. Pinto) 
Editor's note: this article first appeared in the latest issue of the Tremont Tribune, which is on the streets and online now.


The Luxury Box Sports Bar and Cabaret, a bikini bar that recently opened at 1101 E. 177th St., received its liquor license even after Community Board 6 sent a letter of disapproval, a mistake the Liquor Authority acknowledges.

“We didn’t recommend this,” said Ivine Galarza, Community Board 6’s district manager. “We don’t want this type of place next to a residential building.”

In a statement, the Liquor Authority admitted it screwed up. Even though they received the Board’s letter, it wasn’t scanned into the file, spokesman William Crowley said.

While community board approval is not needed to obtain a liquor license, a letter of disapproval would have sent The Luxury Box’s application before a three-member panel — and those letters weigh heavily on the board’s decision.

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 22

Breaking news alert: It's cold! Don't put away your long johns, Bronxites, it's still very much winter here in the northern borough. Cheer up, though, tomorrow it could get up to a balmy 38 degrees.

Story of the Day:
Sidney Flores, the self-appointed guardian and watchdog of his Mt. Eden neighborhood, could be the closest thing the Bronx has to a super hero. The 52-year-old handyman who won the lottery a few years ago, spends his free time showing up at the scenes of crimes and fires and other disasters and does his best to help out. If he sees a fight or a possible drug deal or a broken street lamp, he makes a call to the proper authorities. He was instrumental in getting the Morris Mesa playground next to his apartment fixed up and cleared of drugs and prostitution. And here's the kicker: he doesn't have any political ambitions or want any adulation for his work. “I believe that when you give of yourself,” he told the Times, “it comes back to you somehow, some way.” Is this guy for real?

Quick Hits:
Police are investigating whether NYPD officers used excessive force in arresting a 19-year-old Bronxite who was held in custody for 24 hours and then released with a citation for riding his bike on the sidewalk.

NY1's Dean "the Dream" Meminger profiles the new Black History Month exhibit at the Bronx Museum. It features the work of legendary 95-year-old artist Elizabeth Catlett as well as other artists. In April, Catlett is scheduled to visit the exhibit and speak with some of the other contributing artists.  

Surprise! People aren't happy with the closing of two 6 train line stations -- Elder Ave. and St. Lawrence Ave. -- for the next eight months. 

Didn't get to this last week or yesterday, but here's a story on Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera's simple yet hugely helpful new piece of legislation that would require landlords to post a tenant's bill of rights in the lobbies of apartment buildings and attach it to new leases and renewals. Big news for tenants. More on this soon. 

Weather resistant birders descend on Van Cortlandt Park every Saturday morning.

On Fox's network news station in Washington, DC, "Ask Allison" answers a viewer's question about why our lovely borough is called "The Bronx"? This is a good question. Allison says it's for two reasons: because the borough's main inhabitant and land owner was Jonas Bronck, so people would say, "we're going to the Bronck's farm." It's also, because people called the river running through the borough, "the Bronx River." I believe Allison is correct, although I've always been told that it's important to note that the borough is named after the river, not Jonas Bronck. Although, if the river is named after Jonas Bronck, isn't that pretty much the same as naming the borough after the person? Where's Lloyd Ultan when you need him? Here's the video:

Monday, February 21, 2011

BronxTalk - Egypt and Parks (again)

This week BronxTalk will feature a foremost Middle East expert talking about the revolt in Egypt and its implications.  Beginning at 9:00pm this evening on Bronxnet's channel 67 and Verizon Fios 33, Alon Ben-Meir, a professor of international relations and Middle Eastern studies at NYU's Center for Global Affairs, the Middle East project director at the World Policy Institute, and an author of six books related to Middle East policy, will talk with host Gary Axelbank about the exit of Hosni Mubarak, the affect this will have on other Middle East countries, Israel, and the US, and other related issues.

On Monday, February 28, BronxTalk will feature part II of the show seen last week on the Yankee parks and the waterfront as well as a report on the Parks Speakup, slated for Lehman College this Saturday.

Last week, BronxTalk featured an exclusive look at Mill Pond Park, the Gateway Mall, and environs.  Here's a link to it:  BronxTalk - February 14, 2011.

One of New York City's longest running TV talk shows now in its 17th year, BronxTalk is seen each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67.  It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at www.bronxnet.org.  Hosted by Gary Axelbank and produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available here: BronxTalk archives

Bronx Weekend News Roundup, Feb. 21 (President's Day edition)

And we're back for a President's Day edition of the news roundup, which will include everything we didn't get to last week as we made a final push for your much-needed support. First, though, a hearty and well-deserved thank you to everyone who contributed during our six-week fund-raising appeal. At last count, you had contributed $4,318 toward making our organization, and everything we do, stronger.

Starting today, we will get back to our daily news roundups, weekly features and our continuing mission to bring you invaluable local information and original reporting. (Important side note: Your ongoing support is still important. If you haven't donated yet or want to donate again in the future, just click on our "Donate" button on the upper-right hand corner of this page.)

OK, that's it, we're moving on! To the news!

Story of the Day: 
The Daily News editorial board was awed by the feat of technology and engineering going on in Van Cortlandt Park that will allow New York City to filter between 10 and 29 percent of its daily water supply, but says that the city should never do this again. The city's Department of Environmental Protection is on the verge of completing the network of tunnels connecting the Croton Water Filtration Plant in VC Park to the Croton Watershed upstate.

There is still work to do -- most notably, the routing and laying of a waste water pipe from the filtration plant to Wards Island -- but this hulking facility and its side projects should be completed by the end of next year. In the end, the project's price tag will be at least triple the original estimate, not to mention the priceless loss of scarce public parkland. It's all too much. We can't do this again, the DN says.We will be happy not to write about this again, BxNN says.

Quick Hits:
One of the saddest stories last week was the death of 11-year-old Russell Smith, who police say was clipped by a Honda CRV as he was crossing the Grand Concourse at E. 183rd Street. It was the same place a 12-year-old girl was killed by a motorist in 2005 and the Concourse remains a danger zone, residents say.

The "last in, first out" law that requires the city to lay off public school teachers based on seniority could lead to serious problems at new successful schools like the Bronx's Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science, which is on pace to graduate 95% of its senior class this year. Some 60% of the school's 47 teachers have less than three years in the classroom. The cuts could also include second-year Bronx teacher, Stany Leblanc.

Ex-Bronx State Senator Pedro Espada spent $1.2 million on a staff and office expenses between April and September last year. His expense total was tops in the state. Not too far behind: the Bronx's Jeff Klein.

A 16-year-old was shot and killed last night on E 184th Street.

"Transformers" actress Megan Fox and "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm are working on their new movie, "Friend with Kids," in the Bronx.

Long-time Bronx DA Dan McCarthy died last week.

We'll let Gothamist sort out the story of the wife of a Bronx precinct commander who lied to police about getting attacked

A Bronx teen who spent three years in Riker's Island before being acquitted of murder charges, is suing the NYPD and the Bronx DA's office for allegedly suppressing evidence that kept him locked up.

Finger prints and a long rap sheet led to the arrest of a Bronx man wanted on rape charges.

Bobby McFerrin's son, Taylor McFerrin, is teaching beat boxing to students at the Lavelle School for the Blind in the north Bronx.

A Bronx jeweler says he went into "survival mode" when he fended off armed robbers in his shop last week.

Two young children were saved on Friday afternoon by firefighters after a blaze broke out in the apartment they were staying in at Concourse House, a transitional home for single mothers. The kids suffered smoke inhalation, but were listed in stable condition.

The Elder Avenue and Saint Lawrence Avenue stations on the 6 train line will be closed for renovations starting Feb. 28.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why We Do What We Do and How You Can Help -- Last Chance!

Hi Everyone,

This is the final day of our annual fundraising appeal.

If you're like us newspaper people who need a good deadline to get the job done ... well, now would be the time to get out those credit cards and checkbooks!

As you know, we set an ambitious goal of raising $10,000 from readers. At last count, we've raised $3,513.

We are extremely grateful to the generous readers who have donated so far, but we know there are hundreds more of you out there who care about what we do. A donation from each of you for whatever you can afford right now will bring us much closer to our goal, and hopefully, over the finish line. Every dollar counts!

We've already told you and showed you in a number of ways why we're doing this, but I thought I'd add a little bit of a personal note about why we do what we do here at the Bronx News Network and why I've enjoyed coming to work every day for the last 16 and a half years when I started as the first full-time editor of the Norwood News.

If there's one story I'll always remember covering it's one that I began writing about when I was just a free-lancer for the then-monthly Norwood News. The construction of a badly needed school, PS 20 on Webster Avenue, in perenially overcrowded District 10 was way behind schedule. Meanwhile, the kids at PS 8, just a few blocks away in Bedford Park, were going to school on an abbreviated split schedule. The School Construction Authority, which was then independent of the Department of Education, could not explain to the community what the heck was wrong. So, we filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the agency, and went down there to look through the project status reports.

We discovered that piles were installed incorrectly and other ways the project was mismanaged. We started a PS 20 countdown clock on the front page, covered every meeting related to the school, and just generally held the agency's feet to the fire. To make a long story short, our coverage and the community's ensuing activism resulted in PS 20, and another school on Andrews Avenue, PS 15, being finished on time. The SCA also changed its management practices and other new local schools were finished on time after that.

There have been many other stories like this -- about issues that are critical to the community that we return to over and over again until they get the attention they deserve and are resolved.

And then there are all the stories that might not seem monumental but matter just as much because they're about live in your community -- stories about local children cleaning up a park or doing an interesting school project, profiles of a local artists and businesspeople and everyone else who makes the neighborhood what it is.

Simply put, no one else would be in the room with a pad, pen and camera if we weren't here to do it anymore. Covering hyper-local news in underserved neighborhoods is obviously not attractive to publishing companies looking only at the bottom line. If it were, someone else would already be doing it.

This is or last plea but it is a heartfelt and serious one. Your support -- at whatever level you can manage -- matters. We know there are other worthy organizations competing for your attention, but we also know that you care deeply about the Bronx and your community. And that's what we're all about -- building community and giving Bronx neighborhoods a voice.

We'll be back with the news next week and hopefully, with your support, we'll be hitting the ground running on a strong foundation of grassroots community support.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

-Jordan Moss

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Two Days Left in Our Appeal, Support BxNN Today!

Lots going on in the borough right now and, rest assured, we're hard at work gathering news for our affiliate papers and getting ready to unleash a torrent of hard-hitting stories on this site next week. But for now, we're using this space to make a final appeal for your help. We can not do this without your financial support. As a nonprofit organization, reader donations are critical to keeping our programs going and growing. By contributing to our efforts, you're taking ownership. This is your news site. 

Tomorrow -- we promise! -- will be the last day that this space will be filled with pleas for money, but we can not stress how important it is for us to receive your support. Any amount you can spare will keep BxNN -- our blog, our resource pages, our newspapers, our websites, our youth journalism program, our internship program -- going strong and expanding to provide you with even more news, information and services.

A special thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. Every time we receive a donation, it's added incentive for us to go above and beyond what we've already accomplished.

Just to give you an idea, numbers-wise, of how far we've come on this website: In 2008, we posted 512 times. Last year, we doubled that, posting 1,038 times. Help us continue to progress and improve and provide you with the news and information you deserve. Take ownership. Think of it as an investment in the Bronx and in yourself. Donate today!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Support Our Youth Programs!

In honor of our internship and our youth journalism programs, here are a few videos to watch, straight from our students. Support the Bronx News Network and help us train the next generation of journalists!

Geovanna Borden for BxNN from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.

Andrew Boryga for BxNN from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.

Alina Rodriguez for BxNN from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.

John Kelly for BxNN from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.

There's only three days left until our fundraising campaign ends. Donate today!

Three Days Left to Donate to our Campaign

There's just three more days left to give to our annual campaign, and so far we've raised $3,338. Over the last couple of days many of you have donated to our campaign and we're really grateful for your support.

But we know there are more of you who read the BxNN blog every day. We know you appreciate having a place to visit on the web that has all the best Bronx news and information in one place. If all of our readers gave just $2 each, we would be well over 50% percent of our goal. If everyone gave $4, we would end our campaign today.

The money that we raise will help us pay for crucial resources, like stipends for our writers, who are often college students and want to be working as journalists after they graduate. The Bronx News Network often gives them their first shot at being a reporter, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

Your support will also help us fund our youth journalism program and help us pay for things like notebooks, pens, and digital cameras so that our students can practice their journalism skills.

So please, donate to the Bronx News Network and support our programs in 2011!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 15

We'll get to a few news links in a minute, but first I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about why you should click on this link right here and pledge your support to the nonprofit Bronx News Network today. You may have noticed we didn't post a roundup yesterday. It broke my heart, but it had to be done and it was not just because I spent a large chunk of my day out on the streets delivering the Norwood News, a BxNN affiliate, in my car.

We're taking this last week of our annual fund-raising appeal to remind you why we're here and to ask for your support in keeping this valuable Bronx resource going and growing. Just like how NPR puts on an annual pledge drive to ask people to financially back "listener-supported" radio, we're doing our pledge drive to enlist your help in backing reader-supported news!

Without your support, we won't be able to continue to sift through, gather, read and put all the Bronx news into an easily digestible roundup every day. Let alone produce the original reporting that tells you not just that some old Bronx lady died in a fire last week, but that the woman who died was Mary Mullen, a former teacher at PS 5 in Port Morris who lived near Poe Park for the past 30 years, ate at Louie's Dale Diner on 231st Street, worshiped at St. Philip Neri on the Concourse and dressed to the nines even after a stroke late in her life.

We can't do this for all the fire, gunshot or car accident victims, at least not yet. But, and this is our pledge to you, we will do our best.

Here's another pledge from us, just so you know you're getting something for your hard-earned money: We will follow the stories you want us to follow. All you have to do is ask -- leave a comment or send us an e-mail at bronxnewsnetwork@gmail.com -- and we'll do our best to find out what's going on. This website and our programs isn't just fueled by your dollars, but also by your suggestions, tips and desires.

Bottom line: We need your help and can not do this without you.

If you're reading this right now, for whatever reason, then please, take a minute to click on this link and donate to Bronx News Network. This is the last week we'll use this space to appeal to you, our readers, for help financially. Anything you can spare -- $5, $10, $20 -- will put us in a better position to continue our programs and grow as a nonprofit organization. Help us reach our goal and help us provide the type of news and information that makes the Bronx a better place. 

OK, now a few Bronx news links (next week we'll return to our regular roundup format, we promise):

Show Your Support For the Blog (and Non-Profit Organization) You Love

We hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day yesterday and that you spent the day with someone special. Now how about showing some love to your favorite Bronx blog?

Our campaign ends this Friday, and we're reaching out to you, our dedicated readers, who visit the BxNN blog every day. We know our goal to raise $10,000 is ambitious, but we also know how much it will help our programs in 2011.

Some of you may read the blog as part of your job, and some of you read us because you love living and working in the Bronx, and you like having a place to visit on the web that gathers great information and high-quality news about the Bronx.

You may have noticed by now, there is no other organization that does what we do. And we don't just run this blog. We have a great youth journalism program and we publish two bilingual community newspapers, covering local news that gets overlooked by other media organizations.

We have big plans for the future, but we can't do it alone. We need your support. So, please, donate to the Bronx News Network and keep our programs thriving, including this blog, in 2011.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last Week--Donate to BxNN and Support our Programs in 2011

We’re in the last week of our annual fundraising appeal and our focus on the blog all week is going to be on getting as much support as we can for our campaign, which ends Friday.

When we launched our campaign in January, we knew our goal (to raise $10,000) was ambitious. And we're really grateful to all of our donors who have given so far. But we know there are many more of you, our dedicated readers, who read BxNN every day.

$10,000 may not seem like a lot of money for a news organization, but it’s a key part of our bare-bones budget that will allow us to continue doing what we do and build a strong foundation to bring you even more news and information about Bronx neighborhoods.

I have a feeling that some of you reading this don’t consider contributing because you’re reading it as part of your job. You work for a politician or a city agency or a newspaper, TV station or website. So why should you pay for news that helps you do your job?

Well, because it helps you do your job.

And we offer exclusively local Bronx news, unlike the newspaper you buy on your way into work … or the cable station you pay every month to get NY1, CNN, etc.

So, please, donate to the Bronx News Network and keep the news coming your way.

Valentine's Day Events

Happy Valentine's, Bronxites! Wishing you a lovely day, whether you're single or paired up this year. Here are some events taking place in the borough in honor of the day of love.

--Councilman Joel Rivera and Bronx AIDS Services will be offering free HIV tests at 1901 Southern Blvd, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Results are available in as little as 20 minutes. Free HIV counseling also available.

--The Bronx Health Center is hosting a discussion on safer sex practices and improving your relationship with your partner today at 1 p.m., at 975 Westchester Ave. Call the center at (718) 320-4466 or email info@chnnyc.org for more information.

--The Bronx Council on the Arts invites you to a free concert, "Love, Love, Love! A Celebration of Love Through Song," at City Island’s Pilot Cove Manor Community Room, 160 Pilot Street. The show will feature soprano Elizabeth Farnum accompanied by her husband, Kenneth Farnum, Jr., on piano.

These and other Bronx events are listed in our community calendar, below.

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Hawk Is Back


A fire escape in the Bronx on a February Sunday afternoon near the Williamsbridge Oval Park.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Bronx Sports Column: Who's the Bronx's Best Point Guard? Dwight Hardy Makes His Case

Dwight Hardy, welcome to the conversation. (More on Hardy in this Bronxnet video above.)

Before this season, the question of who is the best current Bronx-bred point guard came down to two names: Villanova University senior Corey Fisher and Kemba Walker, a junior at the University of Connecticut.

After a highly productive three-year run mostly coming off the bench for Nova, Fisher, who attended New Jersey hoops powerhouse St. Patrick's Catholic School, etched his name in NYC street ball lore over the summer when he dropped 105 points in a summer league game.

A highly-touted McDonald's All-American out of Manhattan's Rice High School, Walker started the season in flames for the unranked Huskies, torching ranked foes Michigan St. and Kentucky during a preseason tournament and single-handedly putting UConn back on the national map.

Both play for top 10 teams and are worthy heirs to the point guard throne held in the past by Bronx legends like Rod Strickland and Kenny Satterfield. Both are more like so-called combo scoring guards than classic pass-first versions like Strickland, a Truman High alum who starred in the NBA.

But on Thursday night, JFK grad Dwight Hardy, the starting point guard for a resurgent St. John's team, forced his way into the conversation. On a nationally-televised ESPN game, Hardy outplayed Walker in Madison Square Garden on his way to 33 points. His performance carried the Red Storm to a convincing 89-72 victory and put St. John's in a position to possibly earn a NCAA tournament birth.

In the aftermath, Hardy told the Daily News: "I was just in a zone. When I'm in a zone, I just kind of black out. . . . The basket just keeps getting bigger and bigger."

Friday, February 11, 2011

We Need Your Support for 2011!

We have exactly one week left of our campaign and we're really hoping that all of our readers will donate. The Bronx News Network depends on the support of our donors, and we would not exist without your crucial support. But don't just take our word for it. Here's Alina Rodriguez, a recent graduate of SUNY Purchase, a former BxNN intern, and an aspiring journalist.

Alina Rodriguez for BxNN from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.

And here's Andrew Boryga, a graduate of our Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative, a sophomore at Cornell University, and writer for The New York Times.

Andrew Boryga for BxNN from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.

Click on the donate button at the top right corner and help us continue our programs in 2011!

Parks on BronxTalk

In preparation for the February 26th Bronx Park Speakup at Lehman College, two parks advocates will appear on BronxTalk this Monday night to talk about the Yankee parks and access to the Harlem River waterfront.  Beginning at 9:00pm, Chauncey Young of the Harlem River Working group and another environmentalist will talk with host Gary Axelbank and take phone calls from Bronxites about the status of the parks around the new Yankee Stadium and other Bronx parks and waterfront access issues.

Viewers who want to call in with questions or comments should call 718-960-7241 during the show.

Last Monday night BronxTalk focused on the American Idol piece about the Bronx and Glenn Beck's comments about Co-op City.  Here's a link to it:  BronxTalk - February 7, 2011

One of New York City's longest running TV talk shows now in its 17th year, BronxTalk is seen each Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67.  It's also on Verizon Fios channel 33 and streamed live at www.bronxnet.org.  Hosted by Gary Axelbank and produced by Jane Folloro, BronxTalk is repeated each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9:00pm. Archives are available here: BronxTalk archives

Bronx Foodie: Valentine's Day Dinner

This year is my first Valentine's Day as a married lady, and I'm celebrating by making a romantic home-cooked dinner. My husband and I normally go to a nice restaurant, but this year we wanted to see if we could recreate the same experience at home, and for a lot less money.

On the menu are some of my husband's favorite foods: crab cakes as the appetizer, steak and mashed potatoes as the entree, and tiramisu for dessert. (I cook. He cleans. That's the deal.) I'm going to be brave and try to make everything from scratch. So check back next week to hear how it went. If you have plans to stay at home, let us know what you're planning to cook. Send us pictures of your culinary masterpieces and we'll post some of them next week. Or if you go to a Bronx restaurant for dinner, let us know about that too. And don't forget you can always post a restaurant review in our forum.

Here's the recipes that I'll be using for Valentine's Day, along with some other useful links.

1. Crab Cakes
2. Steak with Chimichurri Sauce and Yuca Fries.
2. Tiramisu

Click here for other Valentine's Day recipes including two favorite V-Day desserts: Chocolate Mousse and Molten Lava Cake.

Here's a video that has tips for creating an easy romantic meal at home, which includes adding candles and fresh cut flowers to the table.

Happy cooking and see you next week!

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 11

Happy Friday, brothers and sisters of the Bronx. Praise Zeus! Or Puxatauny Phil!  Looks like today will be our last defined by frigid temperatures, for about a week or so, at least. Today will be sunny with a high just under freezing. There might be flurries tomorrow afternoon, but with a high of 39 and temperatures possibly reaching the mid-50s by Thursday, let's get out the champagne or sparkling apple juice!

Story of the Day:
While conditions continue to deteriorate at the 10 buildings abandoned by Los Angeles speculator Milbank Real Estate, a Scarsdale -based landlord, Steve Finkelstein, is closing in on a deal to acquire the properties. Finkelstein says he will put up $10 million for repairs -- up from his original offer of about $6 million -- but a report commissioned by the City Council says the full cost of repairs would be more than twice that. Finkelstein, who owns some 30 apartment buildings in the borough, told the Daily News, "There's a lot of work to be done. But I know what I have to do. These are good buildings - they just need someone to take care of them."

Meanwhile, the DN's Dan Beekman reports, tenants at one Milbank building say they were without heat last week and that vacant apartments are being used by drug dealers and abusers.

Story of the Day Too:
Former State Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. held a "unity press conference" yesterday that featured appearances by "amigo" State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and some song and dance numbers. Espada tried to project an air of normalcy, reports NY1's Josh Robin, while trying to bring attention to the fact that the state department is denying his Soundview health care center a $3 million grant to build a new facility across the street. Espada's health care clinics can receive medicaid, but the funds can not pay for his or his son's salary. Both have been indicted for defrauding the nonprofit clinics and using its funds for their own personal use.

Quick Hits:
Melissa Petro, the former prostitute turned Bronx art teacher PS 70, announced her resignation and spoke publicly about it yesterday, saying she could have fought her DOE-imposed suspension and thought she would have won, but felt she wouldn't have been welcomed back if she did. The Post says, "This is one whore with chutzpah."

A 76-year-old man was killed by a city bus driver yesterday in Parkchester.

The Bronx Zoo has two new bald eagles that were injured in Wyoming.

A Bronx man won free cab rides for a year.

Imprisoned "A Bronx Tale" actor Lillo Brancato beat up a fellow inmate at the upstate prison where he's serving time.

And finally, in response to inquiries by the Riverdale Press, a bunch of legislators who represent their coverage area, including Councilman Oliver Koppell, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and state senators Adriano Espaillat and Gustavo Rivera, all agreed to divulge their outside income. State Senator Jeff Klein didn't go into detail, but a spokesman said he made between $100,000 and $220,000. Dinowitz said part of his income was a few hundred dollars in residual checks for his acting role -- playing a congressman -- in the 2002 J.Lo movie, "Maid in Manhattan."

Want to make sure the news continues? Just a reminder to our readers that the Bronx News Network is in the middle of our annual fundraising appeal. If you value quality local journalism, please consider donating so we can continue to bring you news and features, like our daily roundup or our borough events calendar. More details on how to contribute can be found here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bronx Borough President Calls for Immediate Action on PCBs

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. sent a letter this week to Dennis Walcott, Bloomberg's deputy mayor for education and community development addressing the results of a recent test conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency on PS 68 in the northeast Bronx that showed high levels of PCB contamination.

In his letter, Borough President Diaz calls for immediate action to remedy the situation at PS 68 and an investigation of possible PCB contamination in all public schools within the next 18 months.

PCB or Polychlorinated Biphenyls is a tasteless, odorless, organic compound whose production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979. Some of the effects to exposure from PCB may include headaches, coughs, skin sores, irregular mentstrual cycles, fatigue and rashes. Some studies have even linked PCB to certain kinds of cancer.

“PCBs are a serious threat to the health of both our children and the teachers, custodians and other staff that go to work every day in our public schools. The City must protect the health of these individuals, children and adults alike, and begin the immediate testing of all school buildings that may be at risk of PCB contamination. We cannot tolerate any further delays, too much is at stake,” Diaz Jr. said in a statement.

Read the letter after the jump.

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 10

Cold, but sunny today in the Bronx. Warmer temps on the horizon. 

Story of the Day:
Not so sure about this little Valentine's fund-raising effort by the Bronx Zoo. For a $10 donation, the Zoo gives you the opportunity to name a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach after your sweetheart. "Nothing says forever like a cockroach," Zoo Director Jim Beheny told the Daily News. "They are resourceful, resilient and have been around for hundreds of millions of years." They are also offering a Courtship Quiz for those who are still look for that special someone. The result of the quiz determines which creature matches up with your "wooing" style. (We linked to a different story about this yesterday.)

Quick Hits:
Paradmedics saved a toddler from a Hunts Point fire that injured nine. 

Two Bronx-bred hoopsters, University of Connecticut's Kemba Walker and St. John's Dwight Hardy square off tonight at Madison Square Garden. (More sports updates in tomorrow's "Bronx Sports Column." In the meantime, here's a roundup of the first round of the Bronx Boro Championship tournament.)

The Bronx ranks number four out of the five boroughs in pedestrian deaths. (Speaking of pedestrian deaths, Gun Hill Road has long been considered one of the borough's most dangerous roads. Tonight, there will be a town hall-type input meeting to discuss congestion and safety problems on Gun Hill Road at Mosholu Montefiore Community Center.

Hunts Point residents came out to protest a new strip club planned for the area, which owners say will bring 20 new jobs for exotic dancers. Residents say that's not the type of economic development they're looking for.

And finally, our favorite Bronx political columnist Bob Kappstatter re-appears on a new day, Thursday, as the Daily News revamps its borough coverage (no more Bronx Boro News on Tuesdays, unfortunately). Kappy reminds Pedro Espada that he still needs to pay $62,580 in sanitation fines for illegally taping and stapling posters to public property. Espada, as we reported yesterday is holding a rally this morning publicly fight charges that say he looted his nonprofit network of health care clinics. Plus, Kappy alerts us to the New Yorker's report that the Dos Equis commercial's "Most Interesting Man in the World" is played by Jonathan Goldsmith, a Jewish actor from the Bronx.

Want to make sure the news continues? Just a reminder to our readers that the Bronx News Network is in the middle of our annual fundraising appeal. If you value quality local journalism, please consider donating so we can continue to bring you news and features, like our daily roundup or our borough events calendar. More details on how to contribute can be found here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

He's Back! Espada Plans Rally at Soundview Clinic

Former State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. is enlisting the help of some old amigos to publicly combat charges that he embezzled more than $500,000 from the nonprofit network of health care clinics he founded and continues to run. Espada's holding a rally tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. in front of Soundview Health Center, 731 White Plains Road.

With him, according to a press release that describes the event as a "unity press conference," will be Espada's former nemesis turned number one supporter in the state senate, Ruben Diaz Sr. (we received the release from his communications person), as well as Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and Bishop Fernando Rodriguez of the Latin American Chaplain's Association, plus a whole bunch of other folks.

Espada is also facing civil charges from the Attorney General's office that he bilked another $14 million from Soundview.

Here's the meat of the release:

"State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, Bishop Fernando Rodriguez, president of the Latin American Chaplains Association, Pedro Espada, Jr., patients, clergy and civic leaders, other elected officials,and medical staff and health vendors will hold a unity press conference and rally in support of the Soundview Healthcare Network, emphasizing the importance of the network’s four medical facilities to the health care of tens of thousands of Bronx residents, families, children and senior citizens."

Bronx News Roundup, Feb. 9

A video secretly recorded at a Bronx Planned Parenthood clinic is the latest stir-up in a political debate about abortion funding (see our post, and the video, here).

A 14-year-old Wakefield girl is missing, and cops are asking for help. Photo at the link.

Monday is Valentine's Day, so the Bronx Zoo has this quiz to tell you how your courtship style matches up in the animal kingdom (FYI: I got the white-naped crane, whatever that means.)

Speaking of V-Day: Norwood lounge Beso is hosting a singles date auction Friday night, in honor of the upcoming holiday. Proceeds will go to benefit autism research.

Bronx landlords are starting contract negotiation talks with 32BJ SEIU, the union that represents service workers like superintendents, janitors, porters, doormen, elevator operators and garbage collectors.

P.S. 68 in Edenwald is the latest city school to test positive for dangerously high levels of the chemical PCB.

ABC News profiles middle school Soundview Academy.

Loeser's Deli in Kingsbridge made the Daily News' list of the best pastrami spots in New York City. 

P.S. 24 in Riverdale owes the city $20,222 in late lunch fees, according to the Times. The Department of Education says it can no longer afford to absorb the costs of parents who don't pay up for their children's school lunches.

Carlina White, the girl who was kidnapped from a Harlem Hospital 23 years ago and reunited her with Bronx parents last month, has apparently ran off to Georgia after getting in a fight with her biological mother over money.

Plans for a homeless shelter in Claremont are being met with opposition from neighbors.

Want to make sure the news continues? Just a reminder to our readers that the Bronx News Network is in the middle of our annual fundraising appeal. If you value quality local journalism, please consider donating so we can continue to bring you news and features, like our daily roundup or our borough events calendar. More details on how to contribute can be found here.

Bronx Planned Parenthood in Undercover Video

The Bronx branch of Planned Parenthood was the latest site of an anti-abortion group's undercover video campaign, where actors have been secretly filming workers and physicians at clinics in several states.

In the video (which you can watch above) a man and a woman, apparently posing as a pimp and a prostitute, enter the clinic on E. 149th Street and ask about obtaining abortion services and STD screenings for under-age girls, and mention that they're in "sex work."A staffer and a physician then tell the actors that all appointments and treatments at the clinic are confidential, regardless of the patient's age.

The videos (the Bronx footage was the sixth put up on YouTube) come as some politicians and pro-life groups are pushing Congress to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

Live Action, the group that made the video, says it's proof that the organization, a national nonprofit that provides gynecological, birth control and abortion services, failed to report sex trafficking practices.

Planned Parenthood released a statement in response that called the videos "doctored" and "dishonest," and said that both workers at the Bronx clinic say they did not hear the word "sex work."

"Our staff responded professionally to questions, discussed these encounters with management, and provided a report to the FBI," the press release states.

What do you think? Does Live Action have a point, or are these videos set up to entrap? Share your thoughts with us via the comments section.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fire Claims Life of 'Elegant and Fashionable' Former School Teacher (Updated)

[Correction: In the original post, we mistakenly put in the wrong address. The error has been corrected. Mary Mullen lived at 2545 Valentine Ave.]

By Lulaine Compere

The building Mary Mullen called home and died in. (L. Comprere)
Former school teacher and longtime northwest Bronx resident Mary Mullen died on Monday morning when a fire confined to her third floor apartment on Valentine Avenue ended her life. She was 82 years old.

[Update: the DOE says Mullen taught at PS 5 in Port Morris and retired in 1995.]

“It’s the end of an era,” said Maria Shkreli, owner of the building. “She has been here for about 30 years and whenever I look at old pictures of the building I think of her and the neighborhood around that time.”

A spokesman for the fire department said they were still investigating the cause of the fire that broke out around 2 a.m. in Mullen’s apartment at 2545 Valentine Ave., on the corner of 192nd Street. It took about half an hour for 60 firefighters to end the blaze and no one else was injured, the spokesman said.

From the outside, the white brick building does not reveal any fire damage, but once inside the burnt smell is pungent and unmistakable.

According to the building manager of 20 years, Maria Pimentel, Mullen kept to herself and was very religious.

“Mary had a stroke and nobody knew or would have know if it wasn’t for the mail piling up and the fact she had the stroke at the diner [Louie’s Dale on 231st Street] where she used to eat,” said Pimentel, who added that Mullen was a devout catholic who regularly attended St. Philip Neri Church on the Grand Concourse.