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Friday, February 11, 2011

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."

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  1. Please reread the Parkchester post.

  2. "Mr. Dinowitz said he works full-time as an assemblyman and hardly uses his law degree."

    Just what I always like to hear about a person who writes our laws!

  3. In fairness to Mr. Dinowitz -- the assertion that he "hardly uses his law degree" comes from the reporter at the Riverdale Press, not Mr. Dinowitz. The actual quote from Dinowitz is much clearer:

    “I spent very little time taking advantage of my law degree. I do this just full time and then some,” he said, estimating he works 60 to 70 hours per week.

    Mr. Dinowitz's point is that he is not earning a lot of outside money as a lawyer.

    On the other hand, his colleague in the Senate, Jeff Klein, appears to be taking full advantage of his law degree and admission to the bar, bringing in "$100,000 to $220,000" (That's a pretty large range, Senator Klein!) More important than how much these legislators earn, Senator Rivera's bill will tell us from whom they are earning the money. The problem is the money someone like Klein is claiming to earn as an attorney could really be a backdoor way to make a financial contribution and influence legislation. So -- someone needs to ask Klein not only to narrow the dollar range, but tell us who paid him as an attorney. Additionally it would be interesting to hear Mr. Klein tell us exactly how many hours wasn't he spending on his job as Senator to earn this dough?

  4. Thanks Jack, but no thanks Mr. Dinowitz.

    I still question anybody's perspective as a legislator if they can say, "I spent very little time taking advantage of my law degree." If he's not taking advantage of his law degree while writing laws, what is he doing?


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