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Friday, April 29, 2011

Bronx New Roundup, April 29

(Sorry for the delay today. Lot's going on in terms of getting our newspapers out.) 

Weather: Sunny with some clouds today with temperatures in the mid 60’s. More sun to come this weekend, with a high of 68 both Saturday and Sunday.

Quick Hits:

Yankee’s center fielder Curtis Granderson donated $50,000 worth of equipment to baseball and softball teams at South Bronx HS. After contacting PSAL, Granderson learned that there were a shortage of bats; his donation will provide 300 Louisville Slugger bats to the baseball and softball programs.

A judge declared a mistrial in the case of two off-duty police officers accused of beating up civilian, Marlon Smith, in 2008. Yesterday, the officers were convicted on charges of official misconduct. The jury seems to be having a difficult time making a decision when it comes to the assault charges.

There was a fire this morning in University Heights on Jerome Ave. According to FDNY, the fire started in the Super Laundromat, but the flames spread to a connecting building. So far, there have been no reports of injuries.

Last night the citywide school panel decided that three more schools will be closing next year, making it a total of 27 school closures. Bronx Academy High School is one of the three that has just been added o the list. Although there has been a lot of controversy over the closing of Bronx Academy High School, the city vote last night finalized the decision to close the school and voted to open a new transfer school called Bronx Arena.

16-year-old Bronx resident, Charles Cordington's bail was set at $1,000 today after his arraignment. Cordington was accused of beating a Chinese food delivery man. Cordington and a 15 year old accomplice turned themselves in after a surveillance video of the attack was released. Cordington's mother, Carmen, said, "Honest, he's a good boy, he just fell in with a bad crowd."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BP Diaz on BronxTalk

This Monday night Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. will be the guest on BronxTalk.  Beginning at 9:00pm on Bronxnet's Cablevision channel 67 and Verizon Fios channel 33, he will answer questions from host Gary Axelbank about the Kingsbridge Armory and living wages, education, and a variety of other topics.

This past week BronxTalk featured south Bronx advocates talking about their proposal for a South Bronx Green Jobs Institute.  Here's a link to the show:

BronxTalk - April 25, 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 News Roundup, April 28

Weather: A severe weather warning is in effect for today, as intermittent periods of sunshine are disrupted by heavy rain and isolated thunderstorms.

Story of the Day: New Details in Bronx Gay Bashing
Police interview records turned over to defense lawyers in the case of October's bias attack reveal that the men accused--members of a street gang who call themselves the Latin King Goonies--were supposedly extorting one of their victims for protection money, the Daily News reports.

The crew allegedly demanded $2,000 from one of the victims, a 30-year-old man who was reportedly having sex with one of the gang's younger members, and viciously beat and sodomized both men when he couldn't pay up.

Accused ringleader ringleader Idelfonso Mendez and six of his cohorts face multiple hate crime charges, the article says. The men are due back in court next month.

Quick Hits:
Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. is planning a march against same-sex marriage for May 15, the same day as the Bronx Puerto Rican Day parade. The Rev. is presumably preparing to fight a gay-marriage bill that's scheduled for a vote in Albany this spring, which has the support of Gov. Cuomo and a number of other Senate members.

A savvy parking garage owner in Mott Haven fended off two would-be burglars--one wielding a knife--with nothing but an apple. Impressive. Check out the video below.

The two young children who survived Monday's deadly apartment fire on Prospect Avenue in Belmont are mourning the loss of their parents and older brother, who were killed in the blaze.

The owner of the building where the fire took place, before it went into foreclosure, also owned another foreclosed property on nearby 187th Street. That building is also illegally divided in violation of the fire code, the Daily News says.

Northwest Bronx churches are once again being targeted by burglars, police say, after a string of break-ins since late March. A number of other parishes were burglarized this year around Christmas, though the man believed to be responsible for most of the incidents was apprehended a few months ago.

The NYPD ticket-fixing probe, which is being led by the Bronx District Attorney's office, is spreading, with officers from the State Police, Yonkers PD, Port Authority PD and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, believed to be involved.

Soundview's 12th annual Family Day Festival kicks off this weekend.

A struggling food pantry in Kingsbridge Heights is doing all it can to keep feeding the hungry.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Devastated Milbank Buildings Finally Sold

Speaker Christine Quinn, Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Sen. Gustavo Rivera and tenants celebrate the sale of the Milbank portfolio at a press conference yesterday.


It was a rare scene for the transfer of a residential apartment building: Tenants, a new landlord and a variety of city elected officials, from the mayor on down, gathered Tuesday for a press conference that turned out to be a celebration.

The now-infamous Bronx Milbank buildings, including one at 2264 Grand Avenue, were finally sold last week to a new landlord after months of local organizing and city involvement. Tenants, advocates and elected officials had fought to wrest the portfolio of 10 deeply troubled properties from irresponsible bankers and owners to a responsible party who could afford to make them livable again.

Over 100 people showed up for the announcement of the sale at 3018 Heath Ave., where the building had brand new windows -- the first of what tenants hope will be many improvements to come at this and the other Milbank properties.

"We now have someone to communicate with -- someone to hold accountable," said one tenant, Twyla Rashid, who described conditions at her building as “devastating.”

The one to hold accountable now is Steven Finkelstein, a Scarsdale-based landlord who purchased the mortgage and the deeds to the properties in a $28 million deal last week, and faces a mountain of some 4,000 housing code violations.

Bronx News Roundup, April 27

Weather: Warm temperatures again today--though not as balmy as yesterday--with highs around 70. Skies will be mostly cloudy.

Story of the Day: Crackdown After Deadly Belmont Blaze
Mayor Bloomberg and chorus of other elected officials are calling for stricter regulation and punishments for building owners who oversee illegal apartments, after a fire early Monday killed a Bronx family of three in Belmont. The apartment where the victims lived was illegally subdivided, faultily wired and a haven for squatters, neighbors said.

It's unclear who should be held accountable for conditions at the Prospect Avenue building, which has no clear owner--according to the Post, the original landlord lost the property to foreclosure years ago, and that the building has since been part of a Texas private-equity firm's multibillion-dollar portfolio of subprime mortgages. The Times reports that some tenants were paying rent to another squatter who was living there illegally. The Bronx District Attorney's office also announced it will be conducting an investigation into the fire.

Quick Hits: 

A former NYPD officer pleaded guilty in Bronx Supreme Court yesterday for beating a man on a Davidson Avenue sidewalk last January. The incident was caught on tape by witnesses, and then-officer John Cicero resigned from his post a month later.

The fate of Kingsbridge Innovative Design Charter School is now in the hands of the Board of Regents, which put the school on probation for fiscal mismanagement. Officials at the school have until Friday to prove it is financially solvent enough to stay open.

Gotham Gazette takes a look at the growing artist community in the South Bronx and across the borough. 

A third prosecutor has been transferred to the NYPD department advocate's office to handle disciplinary cases in the ongoing ticket-fixing probe. It's unclear just how many officers are being probed in the scandal, which is largely concentrated on Bronx precincts, but some reports are putting the number in the hundreds.

An animal rescue group that filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health, for ignoring a law that requires animal shelters be established in all five boroughs, lost its case yesterday. The Bronx and Queens are both without full-service shelters.

Justin Long-Moton, a 17-year-old from Co-Op City, is the city's Youth Poet Laureate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Armory, Bloomberg Says: 'We're Open to Every Good Idea'

At a press conference today earlier in Kingsbridge, I asked Mayor Bloomberg if his administration was willing to consider new plans for the Kingsbridge Armory, since Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is expected to release, in the next several weeks, a report drafted by the NYU Wagner School of Public Policy with recommendations for redeveloping the vacant landmark .

"We're open to every good idea," the mayor said, exhibiting none of the bitterness some have attributed to him for having his preferred plan for the facility -- a mall developed by The Related Companies -- killed by Diaz and  many of the very same people that were at the press conference to cheer him on for the Bloomberg administration's efforts to get a portfolio of 10 nightmare apartment buildings into the hands of a new, responsible owner.

(Diaz, who had been at the mayor's side for most of the press conference, left before I asked this question.)

48 Precinct Community Meeting Moved

Just a quick programming note: the NYPD 48 Precinct's Community Council meeting, happening tonight at 7 p.m., has changed locations. It will now be held at Phipps West Farm Technology and Career Center, 1071-A East Tremont Avenue, near Boston Road (next to Twin Donuts). Call the precinct’s community affairs office at (718) 299-4522 for more information.

WNYC Maps Stop-And-Frisks, Marijuana Arrests

WNYC published this map today that shows the number of stop-and-frisk incidents and marijuana arrests by NYPD Precinct.

Reporter Alisa Chang investigated the controversial practice, which is supposed to be used as a tactic by police to crack down on street guns. Many stop-and-frisks, she says, instead often lead to arrests for low-level marijuana possession, predominantly in neighborhoods of color.

Technically, marijuana that's concealed on a person and found during a stop-and-frisk should warrant only a violation--a ticket and a fine. New York State Law says that possessing a small amount of pot is a misdemeanor only when it is smoked or displayed "open to public view."

Per the map above, nine of the 12 precincts here in the Bronx are among those with the highest number of marijuana arrests in the city, while Precincts 41 and 42 in the South Bronx have some of the highest of stop-and-frisk numbers.

Police say cracking down on small offenses like marijuana possession is effective in bringing down rates of more serious and violent crimes.

Have you ever been stopped and searched by the police in your neighborhood? Share your stories in the comments section.

Bronx News Roundup, Tuesday, April 26

Weather: Bronxites will be burning (or at least sweating a little) today as temperatures soar into the high 70s! Small chance of showers later on. Similar mix of warmth and rain potential tomorrow.

Story of the Day: Cute Kid Battles Cancer, Runs for Cute Penguins
We'll lead with this heart-warmer about a penguin-loving six-year-old boy from Long Island who is coming to the Bronx on Saturday to participate in the Bronx Zoo's annual Run for the Wild fundraiser. Last fall, after doctors diagnosed young Aghelos Kouvaras with a rare form of cancer, he was forced to drop out of school and has spent his life in and out of hospitals ever since. During his ongoing convalescence, Agehlos developed a love for penguins: "They're cute animals and they were dying," Aghelos told the Daily News. Despite his own condition, Aghelos wanted to do something to help his new endangered favorite creature. In turn, his teachers went to work raising $3,000 for this year's Run for the Wild, which is dedicated to protecting the Magellanic penguins who live off the coast of southern Argentina. Now, eight months after his diagnosis, Aghelos feels well enough to do his own running for the wild and will participate in the 5K run/walk on Saturday with about 80 supporters cheering him on. Yesterday, the Zoo rewarded the first-grader by letting him feed their penguins.

Quick Hits:
In a well-reported follow-up to the story of the Belmont-area fire that killed two parents and their 12-year-old son, the Daily News reports that the Buildings Department received five complaints saying there were illegally converted one-room apartments in the building (2321 Prospect Ave.) that went ablaze yesterday morning. The last complaint came just 11 days before the fire and there is no record of the agency doing anything in response. Too often -- records show less than half of the time -- the city is unable to access buildings to investigate complaints. And after two attempts, cases are closed. Buildings officials say the low inspection rates are due to budget constraints that won't allow them to authorize overtime so inspectors can visit buildings after hours and on weekends.

The man heading the NYPD ticket-fixing scandal, Bronx DA Robert Johnson, unsuccessfully tried to get his own speeding ticket fixed by going through proper court channels. Let this be a lesson to all of us.

DNAinfo's Murray Weiss reports on Huffington Post that the ticket-fixing investigation may also include cops attempting to squash domestic violence and DWI charges.

Bronx-born caterer Kwame Onwuachi, now living in Harlem, is following in his mother's culinary footsteps.

Tree-giveaway projects are happening all over the borough.

Yamaris Clemente, a relative of late Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente, is excelling as the shortstop for the Monroe College softball team.

East Bronx waterfront advocates have a vocal new ally in the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance.

Westchester Square is one step closer to gaining a Business Improvement District. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Milbank Buildings Sold to Scarsdale Landlord

Milbank's 10 Bronx buildings have over 4,000 housing violations among them. (File photo by J. Evelly) 
Another chapter in the ongoing Milbank Bronx housing saga: the 10 crumbling apartment buildings were finally sold last week to a Scarsdale-based landlord after months of negotiations, according to Crain's New York.

Steve Finkelstein bought the mortgage and the deeds to the properties in a $28 million deal, the article reports, promising to start serious and immediate repairs at the violation-riddled buildings, and agreeing to report to HPD within 30 days about what work he's done.

Finkelstein, who owns 31 other buildings in the Bronx, told Crain's he expects to face an "amazing amount of work," but that he's sending eight-man crews into every building to start on repairs.

It's Organ Donor Month

April is Donate Life Month--check out the flier below for more info on how you can register to be an organ donor.

Bronx Weekend News Roundup, April 25

Welcome back to the program, ladies and gentleman of the Bronx and beyond. Without further adieu, let's get down to business.

Weather: Warm, in the high 60s, today with potential for thunderstorms after noon. Supposed to be even warmer tomorrow.

Story of the Day: Prospect Avenue Fire Kills 3 
Early this morning, a swift-moving fire engulfed a Prospect Avenue row house in Belmont, killing a family of three Mexican immigrants -- the 40-year-old mother, 36-year-old father and a 12-year-old son. Two younger children in the family were removed by an uncle, NY1 reports. Another four injured tenants were taken to Jacobi Hospital for treatment. Residents there said the violation-plagued building had been chopped up into a series of single-room apartments. Con Edison had cut off power there last week and neighbors said the building had slipped into foreclosure, turning it into a revolving door for squatters.

Quick Hits:
The Times takes a look at Albany's Brangelina-esque power couple, Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein and Brooklyn/Staten Island State Senator Diane Savino, who have united personally as well as legislatively. Apparently the Albany press corps has dubbed them "Klavino." Klavino makes up half of the independent caucus made of rogue Democrats who have been friendly with the Republican majority.

Angel Ruiz, a Bronx livery cab driver, was rewarded for calling police to report a 61-year-old man being savagely beaten by a man and woman in Mott Haven. The 61-year-old man ended up dying, but the call led to the arrest of two suspects and the NY State Federation of Taxi Drivers rewarded Ruiz for his activism with a $500 check.

About a dozen full-length Bronx-centric films will be shown during Bronx Week (May 12-22) as part of the first annual Bronx Week Film Festival. The festival is being organized by BoogieDowner blogger Greg Tsougranis. The films will show at the Bruckner Bar & Grill from May 16-19.

Mamadou Balde, who remains alive after police shot him several time last week for allegedly waving what turned out to be a fake gun around, is being charged with weapons possession and menacing behavior.

A Bronx teenager was reportedly stabbed to death by gang members after he demanded a $10 refund from a Belmont-area house party he was kicked out of.

A Bronx teenager said she was sodomized at the Metropolitan Hospital psychiatric ward.

The first season of "Car 54, Where Are You?" -- a 60s-era sitcom cop show set and filmed in the Bronx -- has been released on DVD. Here's a clip:

Following reports of a 7-year-old student being handcuffed in Queens, a Bronx mom came out to say she received a $30,000 settlement after her 7-year-old had been handcuffed at PS 71 last year.

The wooing of the Hunts Point produce market continues as the Hudson Reporter reports that market officials are looking at several New Jersey locations.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bronx Foodie: Bronx CSA Roundup & a Recipe for Good Friday

It's that time again!

For all you lovers of CSAs (aka community supported agriculture), it's the season to sign up for a summer share. Deadlines are coming up, so don't miss out.

CSA's are a great way to support a local farm and get fresh produce and other goodies like organic dairy and meat. The only drawback is that you can't choose what comes in your produce box. But if you like surprises that come in the green leaf variety, this is for you. Other options are to visit your local green cart or produce stands and markets. There is a great market on Bedford Park (between Grand Concourse and Jerome) where I buy most of my produce. It's a great way to get inexpensive and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

And be sure to check out The Bronx CSA, which is the newest CSA in the borough. The program charges a sliding fee based on your income and also accepts SNAP/food stamps.

Below (and after the jump) is a list of Bronx CSAs and a link to a recipe for a Dominican Good Friday treat, Habichuelas con Dulce:

No 5 Train Service This Weekend

This in from the MTA: 5 train service will be suspended this weekend from 11:30 p.m. Friday, April 22 to 5 a.m. Monday, April 25 for track work.

Riders can catch free shuttle buses between Dyre Avenue and East 180th Street, or take the 2 for service between East 180th Street and 149th Street-Grand Concourse and the 4 for service between 149th Street-Grand Concourse and Brooklyn Bridge.

Bronx News Roundup, Friday, April 22

Happy Earth Day! Go out and do something good for Mother Nature today. Send her a card made out of recycled paper or hug a tree or clean up your dog's poop or here's a bunch of other suggestions.

Weekend Weather: Very cool, in the 50s, on this Earth Day. The nearly-certain arrival of rain is supposed to hold off until the middle of the night and then continue through Saturday. Temperatures will rise into the 60s tomorrow and could hit a cloudy 70 on Sunday.

Story of the Day: The Best Roasted Pork in the Boogie Down
Roasted pork as the Story of the Day? You betcha, as my dad loves to say. We'll get to some gloom and doom in the Hits, but not here. Here we're talking about pork. Luscious, mouth-watering Puerto Rican-style roasted pork at El Nuevo Bohío. BxNN friend David Gonzalez's descriptions in this NY Times "Neighborhood Joint" feature are downright poetic. A snippet: "Veiled by vapor rising from the steam tables, platters emerge like apparitions, handed over to waitresses who balance them on forearms that would frighten a championship arm wrestler." Wow. Gonzalez is on top of his game. After reading this piece, I almost stopped this roundup and immediately headed over to the corner of East Tremont and Mapes avenues. Maybe I'll walk there later in honor of Earth Day. Plus, there's a slide show.

Quick Hits: 
Echoes of Sean Bell in Highbridge early this morning as police opened fire a 20-year-old man, who reportedly would not drop the pellet gun he was holding, striking him 10 times. Amazingly, Mamadou Valve, he's still alive as of this posting.

More on the fatal car crash on Fordham Road, which we reported on yesterday afternoon. The woman who died has been identified as 61-year-old Carmen Ahmed, who was shopping when the livery cab crashed into Cee & Cee Department store.

The NYPD ticket-fixing investigation centered around Bronx police officers received a big boost from two "hapless" rookie cops.(The Post has been all over this story.)

City Hall calls Bronx DA Robert Johnson a "winner" this week for his role in ticket-fixing investigation and endorsement from the Bronx Democrats.

Police are looking for a man who was caught on tape snatching the purse of a 78-year-old woman.

Cops arrested and charged a suspect with murdering a young Bronx mother.

The DOT is attempting to curb speeding on Bruckner Boulevard in Country Club by installing a new "speed board."

Often incendiary Post political columnist Frederic U. Dicker, who grew up in the Bronx, has been "surprisingly gentle" with Gov. Cuomo thus far, the Times report.

And finally, in a wide stretch of an editorial today, the Daily News links the impending loss of the Bazzini nut roasting plant jobs to the political fight to stop the Kingsbridge Armory from turning into a shopping mall and criticizes city politicians -- specifically Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. -- for not being more business-friendly.

Two problems with this editorial. One, the loss of Bronx jobs is never a good thing, but Bazzini CEO Rocco Damato said: "It's nobody's fault." And two, it says the living wage bill supported by 28 Council members is an "insane idea" that has "taxpayers subsidize wages in the private-sector." That's simply not true. The living wage legislation, known as the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, would require developers (not taxpayers) to provide living wage jobs when they receive big subsidies and tax breaks from the city. In that way, taxpayers already subsidize the private sector. But that money goes into the pockets of developers and doesn't translate into better jobs. So, on behalf of Diaz, Jr., I'd like to say, Oh yeah, Daily News, what do you have to say about this:

The Bronx, the Brooooooooooooonx!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bronx Events: Italian Concert at Belmont Library

The Belmont Library and Enrico Fermi Cultural Center, at 610 East 186th Street (near Belmont's "Little Italy") is hosting a free spring concert tonight, featuring a number of Italian artists including soprano Maria Fraccola, pianists Giovanni Valle and Marco Grilli, pop singer Anuhel and tenor Giuseppe Ruggiero.

The show starts at 7 p.m. See the flier for more or call the library at (718) 933-6410.

Check out our events calendar to see what else is happening in the Bronx this week. If you missed it, here's our guide to family-friendly events to take part in this spring break.

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

Car Crash at Fordham Road and Bainbridge Ave [Updated]

A livery cab crashed into a department store on East Fordham Road near Bainbridge Avenue this afternoon, killing one woman and injuring approximately seven others, according to reporter David Greene, who was on the scene and took these photos.
The car smashed into Cee & Cee Department Store, at 331 E. Fordham Road, pinning one woman underneath the vehicle. She was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital, Greene said.

Four Months Into Job, Sen. Gustavo Rivera to Move into District Office Next Week

[UPDATE: Cruz wanted to respond to this post by sending over a statement:  "Senator Rivera is excited that the New York State Senate has finally approved the lease for his permanent office. The office was identified in December and the process of approval began in January. This lengthy process that Senator Rivera and his constituents have experienced is a very tangible illustration of the need to reform the way business is done in Albany." Cruz also said she was told by a staffer for senate Democrats that there other legislators who are still trying to secure office space. She added that while she and Rivera have worked from home, Rivera's team has either worked from the senate offices at 250 Broadway or the mobile office locations. For constituents, I've posted those mobile office hours at the bottom of the post.]

Looks like the Gustavo Rivera Watch will come to an end next week when the 33rd District state senator begins the long-delayed move into his new district office in the Poe Building on the Grand Concourse, just south of Fordham Road. (The address is 2432 Grand Concourse for those looking to Google map it.)

Conchita Cruz, Rivera's communications director, said final approval just came through this morning and that the state senate would be shipping furniture to the office on Tuesday.

Rivera is the only state senator without a district office. For the past three and a half months, when he hasn't been in Albany, he's been working out of his Kingsbridge-area apartment or downtown at the state senate offices near City Hall. His staff has been holding mobile office hours at various locations and working out of their own homes.

Cruz has said the delay wasn't some nefarious plot by the Republican majority, but rather just typical Albany bureaucracy slowly working its way toward accomplishing something as simple as approving and signing a lease on a district office. (It remains unclear which explanation is a sadder illustration of Albany's problems.)

In any case, Cruz said they will probably hold some kind of ribbon-cutting ceremony or open house in the next couple of weeks.

As for the Gustavo Rivera Watch, a count-up that somebody launched a few days ago, starting the clock from the day he won the primary seems slightly unfair. Technically, Rivera's been office-less for 111 days so far. Not as bad as his predecessor, Pedro Espada, Jr., who didn't open an office -- it turned out to be just outside of the district and was his "majority leader" office -- until he was nine months into the job.

In the meantime, below are Rivera's mobile office hours, which Cruz said they are committed to keeping for the next couple of weeks:

--Monday: 10-2pm, Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, 3450 DeKalb Avenue
--Monday: 1-5pm, Asm. Castro's Office, 2175 Jerome Avenue, Suite C Bronx, NY 10453
--Tuesday: 2-6pm, Councilman Koppell's office - 3600 Waldo Ave.
--Wednesday: 10-1, 2-4, CB 7 Office, 229A E 204th St
--Thursday: 12-5 CB 6 1932 Arthur Avenue, Room 709

Bronx River Art Center Wins Two Design Awards

Design plans for the Bronx River Art Center's $8 million renovation (photo courtesy of BRAC)
The Bronx River Art Center was recently awarded two separate "pre-build" awards, honoring design plans (see photo) for the gallery's $8 million, two-year makeover that began this fall at the West Farms building on Boston Road and E. 179th Street.

The designs, by architects Sage and Coombe and designer Tattfoo Tan, scored a 2010 “Award for Design Excellence” from the New York City Design Commission and a 2011 Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects.

BRAC spent the last six years fund raising to renovate the 100-year-old building. They expect to break ground on the new one this summer. In the meantime, art classes, exhibits and other programs are being held at various guest sites throughout the Bronx until construction is finished.

Bronx News Roundup, Thursday, April 21

Weather: Enjoy the windy warmth today, high around 60, because rain is expected tomorrow and through the weekend.

Story of the Day: Bronx Loses Another Food Manufacturer 
The A.L. Bazzini Company, which provides peanuts at Yankee Stadium, announced Wednesday it would be moving it's Hunts Point manufacturing plant, and 57 Bronx jobs with it, to Pennsylvania in July. The 125-year-old nut roasting company, which started out in Tribeca before moving to the Bronx in 1997, will continue to keep its accounting, distribution and customer service operations -- about 50 jobs -- in the Bronx. Bazzini CEO Rocco Demato said the move to a larger, safer plant in Pennsylvania was necessary. The loss deals yet another blow to the Bronx manufacturing industry, which has recently seen the departure of cookie makers Stella D'oro and melba snack maker Old London. 

Quick Hits:
Juicy stuff in Kappy's politics column today as he hedges on predicting Councilman Jimmy Vacca's future: Borough President? A state senator opening? He also says his "spies" spotted former Bronx state senator, Pedro Espada, Jr., pulling slots at the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. Come on, daddy needs a new defense attorney!

Kappy, a Facebook junkie himself, reports that a young Bronx mother was killed by a man she knew on the social network. Apparently, she wasn't the intended target.  

In response to a flurry of bodega robberies in the borough, the NYPD held a crash safety course for owners last week. The most important tip: don't fight back; you might get shot or stabbed.

Riverdale-raised physical therapist Jon Weiss brings his services to the Bronx's most neglected home-bound patients.

Tonight, PBS will run a segment on Co-op City's PS 176, which caters to some 700 students with autism.

Heart-warming story of the day (from Sunday's NY Post): Lissedia Batista, a teacher at Explorations Academy, a high school on Boston Road near Crotona Park, who miscarried following an injury suffered during a classroom brawl, said she held no ill-will or grudge toward the students involved in the tussle. "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger, and I always try to teach that to my students," she told the Post. "I always try to tell them that we are always going to have rough times in our lives, but it's what we make of it that makes us who we are."

A new report backed by South Bronx community groups urges NYCHA to open up a green jobs institute in the Bronx to get residents to get back into the workforce while, at the same time, greening the borough. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bronx News Roundup, April 20

Weather: I try to keep in mind there have probably been occasional sunny days recently, but I can't for the life of me remember when they were. Another gray one today with a high of 67 degrees with scattered thunderstorms throughout the day (though none yet as of 12:40) and "isolated" storms this evening. 

Story of the Day: Dog 'You-Know-What'
Have you noticed more dog s--t (c'mon, let's just say it, that's what we all call it) in your neighborhood? We certainly have (especially around our offices here at the Keeper's House in Norwood) and so has Council Member James Vacca who has written to city Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty to demand more enforcement, which has been dropping off lately. According to the Village Voice, "in 2008, 909 tickets were issued. In 2011, the fiscal year of which ends at the end of June, officials have issued only 250. City officials say this is due to better compliance, but the dog poop doesn't lie!"

Quick Hits 
Trendy neighborhood names coined by developers and real estate agents (among the latest are ProCro for Prospect Heights/Crown Heights and SoHa for South Harlem) can contribute to increased rents and home prices, says Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, who is introducing legislation to require community board/City Council/mayoral approval of use of new neighborhood names. We all know about SoBro (for south Bronx), but recently we heard that marketers of the under-populated Solaria luxury building on Henry Hudson Parkway in Riverdale are calling the nabe NoMa (northern Manhattan)! Does Riverdale really need an image makeover?! Oy.

The city's Department of Environmental Protection is giving away free rain barrels in the Bronx on May 7 in Pelham Bay Park.

Bloomberg News profiles Bronx-born fiddle master Bruce Molsky.

All that ticket fixing? Courtesy, not corruption says the head of the sergeants' union.

The Riverdale Press takes a look at a Kingsbridge Heights building that is the 15th worst on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's bad Bronx buildings list.

Under a new law, effective April 1, citizen webcasting of legislative hearings at every level of local and state government will be easier.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bronx Events: Kids Spring Break Guide

New York City public schools are closed for spring recess this week through next Wednesday, April 27th. Here's our pick of Bronx, family-friendly events taking place until then. 

Spring Break at the Botanical Garden

Photo courtesy of NYBG
The Garden is hosting a number of kids' activities and shows this week and next. An Earth Day festival this Friday, April 22, features an outdoor scavenger hunt, guided tours of the Native Forest, a lesson on earthworms and how to start your own compost pile. On Monday, April 24, the Bronx Arts Ensemble will perform a musical version of "Peter and the Wolf" at 1 and 3 p.m. For a complete list of events, visit www.nybg.org.

Kids Week at Crotona and Van Cortlandt Parks
Join the Urban Park Rangers for  a scavenger hunt on Thursday and a "Meet the Critters" session on Friday at the Van Cortlandt Nature Center; the group will also host "Animal Games" in Crotona Park on Wednesday. See the Parks Department's Kids Week guide here or call (718) 378-2061.

Animal Tales at the Bronx Zoo
This weekend, the Bronx Zoo brings all of your favorite animal characters to life. On Saturday the 23rd, Spiderman and his Marvel super hero friends will make an appearance, while bestselling children's author Michelle Knudsen reads from her book "Library Lion." Celebrate Easter Sunday on the 24th with a Rotten Egg Hunt featuring the cast members from Broadway's "The Addams Family." For more, visit the Zoo's events calendar here. 

Family Art Project at Wave Hill
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visiting artist Miwa Koizumi shows you how to reuse colored plastic bags and recycle them into rain hats, rain gear and Earth Day flags and flowers for a festive Earth Day parade.
Photo courtesy of Wave Hill
Class is free with admission to the grounds. More information about Wave Hill here.

Fun at the Library

Every neighborhood branch of the New York Public Library hosts a litany of free events for children, teens and families. From story time to craft workshops, you can check out what's happening at your local branch at the NYPL's program calendar here, which lets you search by borough, age group and type of event. 

Barney Live at the Paradise Theater
Everyone's favorite purple singing dinosaur is visiting the Bronx this weekend, performing his "Birthday Bash" live show at the legendary Paradise Theater on the Grand Concourse with three shows on Saturday, April 23. Visit the theater's website here for more details or www.ticketmaster.com to buy your tickets.

Easter Egg Hunt at St. Mary's Park
Bring the kids out to St. Mary's Park, on St. Ann's Avenue at East 149 Street and Jackson Avenue, this Saturday for an Easter egg hunt from 1 to 3 p.m.

You can see what else is happening in your neighborhood this week by visiting our Bronx events calendar.

Vacca Calls Out Donald Trump

Bronx City Councilman James Vacca sent out a statement this week blasting Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman-turned-reality TV star-turned-presidential hopeful, for comments he made recently that knocked the Big Apple.

Trump, a native New Yorker, went on CNN this week and referred to LaGaurdia Airport in Queens as a "Third World airport."

"Donald Trump's comments were at best a cheap shot at New York City and at worst an insensitive knock on the diversity that makes our city great," Vacca said in statement sent out Sunday. "Donald Trump has lived in New York his whole life. He has done very well in New York. If he thinks he's going to ride to the White House by picking on New York, he has another thing coming."

Trump also called the United States a "laughingstock" to the rest of the world for its lack of investment in infrastructure, erroneously saying no one can remember the last time the U.S. built a bridge.

"Mr. Trump is free to come to my borough and look at the new Willis Avenue Bridge, completed just last year," Vacca countered. "His statement is really amazing as it shows a complete lack of knowledge about what is going on in his own city."

Diaz For Bronx Week 2011

Next month brings Bronx Week, the 10-day annual festival to celebrate all things Boogie Down-related. Here's a video promoting the event, which will run from May 12--22, from Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

For a list of Bronx Week features and event, visit www.ilovethebronx.com.

Bronx Crime Watch: Murder in Kingsbridge

A 40-year-old man died last night in Kingsbridge after sustaining multiple gun shot wounds. Just before 10 p.m., police from the 50th Precinct found Bryan Nunez unconscious and unresponsive at 2816 Heath Ave., about a half block north of Kingsbridge Road, with bullet wounds to his head and torso. Emergency responders pronounced Nunez dead at the scene. No arrests yet, police say.

Police said Nunez was a resident of Washington Heights.

Bronx News Roundup, April 19

Weather: Temperatures in the low to mid 50s, with rain showers throughout most of the day.

Story Of The Day: Charter School Blues

The Daily News' Daniel Beekman takes us on the scene of a public lottery at the high-performing Bronx Charter School for Excellence, in Morris Park, where 1,635 hopeful parents were vying to get their kids into just 28 open kindergarten spots. The lottery determines who gets in and who goes home, a process (as chronicled in the much-talked about film "Waiting for Superman") which means heartache for most of the families who apply.

"It's a crushing feeling," one parent told the News. "You gamble with your kid's life and just hope you get picked."

Bronx Charter boasts that 88 percent of its fifth-graders passed the state English exams last year--that's compared to the 41 percent average for public schools in Bronx's District 11.

Quick Hits: 

Former Co-Op City janitor Paulino Valenzuela was found guilty yesterday for the 2007 shooting that killed his boss.

More on the Bronx NYPD ticket-fixing probe: the Post reports that part of the massive investigation is focused on highway patrol officers headquartered on the Bronx River Parkway, who are responsible for cruising and ticketing drivers along the West Side Highway and FDR East River Drive.

Livery cab drivers in the south Bronx are sporting bullet proof vests provided by Security USA, which donated the vest in memory of Bronx cab driver Cesar Santos, who was shot and killed in 2010 over a fare dispute.

One Bronx family, and thousands of others, face homelessness or the shelter system as their city-provided rent subsidies run out.

Bronx Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson is one of several elected officials rallying for the state to establish a domestic violence offender database, following the recent brutal murder of a Lower East Side woman at the hands of her boyfriend.

A jury continues to deliberate in the trial of two NYPD transit officers accused of beating a Bronx man in 2008.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bronx Crime Watch: Dead Grandma's Neighbor Indicted; Murder in U-Heights

I know it's been a while, but Crime Watch is back today with a couple of Bronx murder reports.

Neighbor of Dead Grandmother Indicted for Murder
Last week, Tyrone Ragland reportedly confessed to murdering 82-year-old grandmother Ethel Parish while high on crack. Today, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson announced Ragland's indictment on three murder counts that would put him away for life. Earlier in his life, Ragland spent 15 years in prison for murder.

On January 5, according to the Daily News, Ragland smoked crack before going over to Parish's apartment on the 15th floor of the Murphy Houses on Crotona Avenue. Ragland said an argument erupted over $80 that Parish supposedly owed him for house work and that she attacked him first and then he retaliated. Next thing he knew, Parish was lying in a pool of her own blood. (Note: The Daily News has the grandmother's last name as "Klein," the Post, Times and Bronx DA has it as Parish. The DA also has her age as 82, though it appears different in some of the other published reports.)

Murder on 182nd and Creston
On Sunday afternoon, shot rang out in University Heights, near the corner of E. 182nd Street and Creston Avenue, an area known for its rampant drug dealing.

Police responded and found Norman Cassling, 29, of Bridgeport, Conn., with at least one bullet wound to his chest. Emergency workers were called and pronounced him dead at the scene, which was right in front of 120 E. 182nd St.

Police say no arrests have been made and that the investigation is ongoing.

Bronx Weekend News Roundup, Monday, April 18

Welcome back to the program, ladies and gentleman of the Bronx and beyond. Just a reminder, today is the official deadline to file your taxes. So, get it done or risk the wrath of the IRS.

Weather: High of around 60 today with clouds obscuring the sun as the day goes on. A strong chance of rain tonight through Wednesday.

Story of the Day: Bronx Cops on the Hot Seat
Yesterday, the Post unveiled its "exclusive" look into the NYPD ticket-fixing scandal that apparently is almost exclusively focused on Bronx police officers. The report claims 400 cops, most of them from the Bronx's 12 precincts, could face internal disciplinary action and two dozen officers, many of them union delegates, could face criminal charges. The investigation began in 2008 after a Bronx cop suspected of selling drugs was heard on a wire tap asking another cop, a union rep, for help fixing a summons. The investigation ballooned from there. Today, the Times delves into the matter, quoting several unnamed "law enforcement officials" and a couple of named lawyers who say ticket fixing has been around since ticket issuing began and that the matter should be handled within the department. It's unclear when the Bronx District Attorney's office will complete its grand jury investigation, while an Internal Affairs Bureau probe continues.

Quick Hits:
Victor Toro, a South Bronx activist who face deportation back to his native Chile where he was tortured in the late 1970s, remains outspoken even as the U.S. government is intent on removing him from the Mott Haven area he now calls home.

New Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who officially starts his new job today, spoke at Harvest Fields Community Church in Westchester Square yesterday and assured teachers: "You will never, ever hear me say  a bad thing about you," according to the Daily News. But he also said he would go through with Bloomberg's plan to cut 4,000 teachers and fight to end their seniority protections.

Three Bronx teens were injured, one critically, while driving a mini van along Bruckner Boulevard early Saturday morning.

Boxing is coming back to the Loew's Paradise Theater.

A new study found that tax filers in several low-income zip codes in the Bronx and Brooklyn saw more than a million dollars of their refund money go to high-interest "refund anticipation loans." Jumelia Abrahamson (her name is misspelled in the article [and was again misspelled in this post earlier, but is now, finally, corrected]), who works for University Neighborhood Housing Program, a Bronx-based nonprofit that offers free tax prep precisely because they want filers to keep more of their refunds, said the for-profit companies who push these loans often obscure how much of a cut their taking.

Broxite David Vizcaino will compete in the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Friday, April 15, 2011

An 'Enlightening' Concert Delights at North Central Bronx Hospital (Video)

[Enjoy your own personal concert by clicking on the video above.]

Yesterday at noon, Baroque music could be heard pouring out of the cafeteria on the 17th floor of North Central Bronx Hospital in Norwood.

In that lofty location, hospital employees, volunteers, patients and other local residents sat down to enjoy a half hour concert. It's part of a new program that Carnegie Hall created, called Musical Connections.

“This new program offers world-class performances by various artists free of charge to audiences who may not normally have the opportunity to enjoy such performances,” said Barabra DeIorio, the director of marketing and public affairs for Jacobi Medical Center. Musical Connections holds concerts at other community-based locations as well, including homeless shelters, senior centers and prisons.

“I don’t really get to go to many concerts, so this was something very special,” hospital volunteer Shirley Dunbar said.

DeIorio said several concerts have already been held at Jacobi Medical Center, however today is the first concert held at NCBH.

"I use to go to the concerts at Jacobi,” said Janice Phillips, a patient at NCBH. “I’m so glad they brought it over here.”

Bronx Foodie: Demand It, and SeamlessWeb Will Come

A couple months ago, I noticed that my local diner (Bedford Park Cafe) had a SeamlessWeb logo on the door. I was pretty excited, since I didn't realize that the online delivery conduit was working its way into the Bronx.

For anyone not familiar with SeamlessWeb, it's a website that allows you to order food online from multiple restaurants. (You don't even have to talk to anyone on the phone!) It works best in Manhattan, where most restaurants and fast food chains are using it. When I used to work near Wall Street, I would have days that were so busy, that it was great to be able to go online and order food quickly. Plus, you can pay and tip online. No cash, no problem. 

At this point, SeamlessWeb only seems to have a handful of Bronx diners and pizza places to choose from. I even searched near the Bronx Court House and Fordham University. The limited options are uninspiring to say the least.

But it doesn't have to stay that way. SeamlessWeb takes suggestions. Here's their tagline: "SeamlessWeb is a demand-driven network of the best delivery and takeout restaurants in a local area. We depend on the insightful suggestions of our loyal members to help us determine which restaurants should be added to our network…after all, no one knows your neighborhood as well as you do!"

So log on, make suggestions, drive that demand, and maybe someday soon, you too will be able order food from your favorite Bronx eatery with a few mouse clicks. (Or download the smart phone app and dial up an order while walking home).

What about other food delivery options? I believe Fresh Direct is available, but only in a select few areas, like Riverdale and Kingsbridge. (But it probably could be in more places if we create the demand. I'm detecting a theme here.) I have also heard good things about Urban Organic, which delivers fresh, organic produce. A couple of Norwood residents I know have tried them out and it's worked out.

The bottom line is that we can start getting these type of services that Manhattanites take for granted, but it won't happen unless we create a demand for it.

Bronx News Roundup, Friday, April 15

Happy Tax Day! If you're freaking out because you haven't gotten your, um, stuff together, then freak not, you still have three more days to file! The deadline to file has been extended this year to Monday, April 18, so you have the entire weekend to continue procrastinating.

Weekend weather: It should stay nice and sunny today, though a little cooler than yesterday. Rain and wind will rule Saturday, with the sun supposedly breaking through on Sunday afternoon.

To the news!

Story of the Day: Woodlawn Weiss and other Bronck's Beer
How could I not make this Riverdale Press story about a Woodlawn man who is turning his basement brewing hobby into a beer-making enterprise the story of the day? (Ok, don't answer that, but just look at the photo; so refreshing and inviting. But I digress.) Anyway, Steve Nallen, a Woodlawn resident whose family runs deep with Bronx blood, introduced two of his Bronck's Beer Co. creations -- Woodlawn Weiss and Pelham Bay IPA -- to thirsty patrons at the The Bronx Ale House in Kingsbridge last week to rave reviews. Nallen's efforts (named after the borough's indirect namesake, Jonas Bronck), combined with those of The Bronx Brewery, could give the borough a much-needed economic boost -- a mini Bronx beer stimulus package, if you will. Happy Friday and drink responsibly.

Quick Hits:
Authorities arrested 16 people for their alleged involvement in a massive Bronx-Yonkers cocaine distribution ring.

Ticket fixing scandal update: A Bronx cop who works in the 46th Precinct testified to a grand jury that union delegates helped her take care of at least two summonses, according to the Daily News.

In the wake of the deadly tour bus crash in the Bronx last month, transportation officials say more than 100 drivers have been pulled off the road for various violations.

In response to reports of rampant prostitution around PS 6, Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., aka The Rev, is introducing legislation that would stiffen penalties for illegal sex traders who operate near schools.

Deliberations began in the trial of two Bronx female cops who were charged with beating a motorist. 

The old Willis Avenue Bridge, which once connected 70,000 vehicles a day between the Bronx and Manhattan, was taken to New Jersey this week to be recycled.

Former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein responded to Jonathan Mahler's NY Times Magazine profile of the Bronx's MS 223, which we broke down in Monday's "Story of the Day," saying the writer unfairly characterized the presence of more charter schools as one of the reasons why many public schools are struggling to succeed. 

Fordham University professor Mark Naison talks about the Bronx's musical history.

Many Bronx public school students are not responding to the DOE's annual survey, which contributes to each school's overall grade.

Espada Comeback?

Well, not yet anyway.
But the wording on the pop-up that comes up when you go to his Senate page makes his departure seem only temporary.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bronx Children’s Museum Gets Wheels

The Bronx Children's Museum's new tricked-out mobile home.
Although the Bronx Children’s Museum does not plan on opening their building until 2013, Bronxities can expect to see a mobile museum cruising down their street much sooner.

That’s right, the Bronx Children’s Museum now has wheels after receiving a donated school bus, which is literally a vehicle of hope.

A couple from Potomac, Md., donated the bus, which now sits in the Bronx Atlantic Express bus yard, in memory of their late daughter, Sarah Malawista. (The mobile museum will make its debut at the Bronx Day Parade on May 22.)

Bronx's Largest Employer, Montefiore, Expands No Smoking Policy (Video)

New signage prominently displays Monte's new expanded No Smoking policy. (A. Kratz)
 Editor's note: this article was first published in the most recent edition of the Norwood News, which is out on streets and online now. 
Like many longtime smokers, Jarrel Jackson wants to quit smoking. Fortunately for his sake, so does Montefiore Medical Center, his employer and the largest employer in the Bronx, which recently expanded its No Smoking zones and is now offering smoking cessation resources for its employees.

The new policy, Montefiore officials say, is part of a larger, comprehensive healthy living strategy, one that would affect a population even greater than the medical center’s nearly 18,000 employees.

“Montefiore is not one big hospital,” said Dr. Steven M. Safyer, Montefiore’s president and CEO. “It exists in 100 sites, including three campuses and a vast ambulatory care network. We wanted to do this for our associates, patients and visitors in every venue. We need to encourage people to quit and diminish temptation for those who want to smoke.”

At a press conference last month (see video below) on national Kick Butts Day, March 23, Safyer said he could remember a time when doctors and other employees not only smoked outside of the buildings, but in the buildings.

Untitled from Alex Kratz on Vimeo.

Residents Cheer Reopening of Mosholu Post Office; Annoyed It Took So Look

The Mosholu Post Office on Jerome Avenue (finally) reopened this week.

The post office, which closed due to structural damage last April, is once again open for regular business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m to 4 p.m.

“It was a pain in the butt that it was closed for so long,” Julissa Shapiro said. “But it’s great that it’s open now!”

Bronx News Roundup, Thursday, April 14

Weather: Enjoy the mid 60s temperatures and sunshine broken up only by the occasional cloud.

To the news!

Story of the Day:
During a 9-year-stretch between 1986 and 1995, 65 bodies (65!) were found in the Bronx's Pelham Bay Park, the city's largest park at 2,700 acres. "It’s vast, vast territory,” Lloyd Ultan, the Bronx borough historian, told the Times in an article about the New York area's many body-hiding hot spots. “A lot of it is wild. It would take a long time for anybody to find anything there that shouldn’t be there.” The article, which stems from the 10 bodies recently found in the Long Island shore brush, says that Pelham Bay Park used to a be a dumping ground for bodies and gives a couple of examples of the grizzly discoveries made at the east Bronx park. But with all that vast, wild land, how do they know it's not still being used in such a manner?

Quick Hits:
Residents and police say a deli in Concourse Village is the root of many evils.

More details on the neighbor who was arrested for killing Bronx grandmother Ethel Parrish.

The Bronx Children's Museum will make its mobile debut at the Bronx Day Parade on May 22. (More on this later today.)

Starting Saturday in the Bronx and other outer boroughs, the 929 area code will be given out  to new landlines and cell phones.

Kappy has details on the ticket-fixing scandal that's centered around Bronx cops. But he says this is bigger than the Bronx: "With tickets now computerized, the informal 'courtesy' system no longer works. But the problem for Bloomberg, Kelly and the cop unions is the tix-fix system has been around just about forever, with the current Bronx probe a potential Pandora's box."

He also says Councilman Fernando Cabrera is finding it difficult to pay back the tax breaks received on his Westchester home while living in the Bronx.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

See 'The King's Speech' Tomorrow Evening

Lots of quality free entertainment coming out of the two neighboring northwest Bronx hospitals tomorrow. As we mentioned yesterday, North Central Bronx will be holding a lunchtime concert. And at 5 p.m., Montefiore Medical Center, in honor of World Voice Day, will be hosting a screening of the Oscar-winning film, "The King's Speech," which recounts the story of the King of England overcoming his stuttering problems. See details below in our oft-updated Bronx Events calendar.

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

Vacca Holds Out On Living Wage; No Hearing Date Yet

City Councilman James Vacca is the only Bronx member of the Council who has yet to throw his weight behind the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act--the bill that would require developers of retail projects receiving taxpayer subsidies to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without.

This week, his spokesman Bret Collazzi said the councilman is waiting for an official hearing to be held on the legislation before he takes a stance.

“He’s open to the idea, but he’s not there yet,” Collazzi said. “He’s met with both sides, he’s interested in it, but he won’t make a decision until the hearing.”

The fate of a hearing lies in the hands of  Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has said that she's opening to the Council having one. Quinn spokeswoman Maria Alvarado said nothing has been scheduled yet.

"No hearing date has been set at this point, but the committee is continuing to work on finding a date," she wrote in an E-mail.

The living wage bill has lingered in the Council for almost a year; it was introduced last spring by Council Members Oliver Koppell and Annabel Palma, and has strong backing from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who led the effort to defeat the city’s plan to build a mall at the Kingsbridge Armory, mainly because the developer would not guarantee that retail workers be paid a living wage. [Corrected from an earlier version]

The bill currently has the support of 29 members, short of the 34 that would be needed to override a likely mayoral veto. Mayor Bloomberg has been vocal about his opposition to a living wage requirement on the grounds that it would harm small businesses and discourage development.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act would apply to any development project that receives more than $100,000 in tax breaks or city subsidies.

“We even exempted some small businesses to make sure we weren’t hurting small businesses that might not be able to pay these wages,” Council Member Koppell said at a rally for the legislation last month. “We worked hard to craft this bill so that there can be no exceptions [to it].”

Bronx Electeds Demand Equitable Trash Burden

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Council member Annabel Palma, the head of the Bronx Council delegation, joined up with other Council members and environmental justice advocates at City Hall today to rail against Mayor Bloomberg's plan to shelve the building of four new waste transfer stations -- three Manhattan and one Brooklyn.

As it stands now, some 60 percent of the city's waste is taken to transfer stations in Newton Creek (Brooklyn) and Hunts Point in the South Bronx. The new stations would have eased this saturation, which residents say leads to foul odors and heavy truck pollution.

"If approved, this proposal [to not fund the new transfer stations] almost exclusively concentrates the burden of handling NYC’s solid waste in a handful of low-income communities of color in Brooklyn and the Bronx – yet again," it said in a press release sent out by the New York Environmental Justice Alliance.

The release also warned that the city was considering creating "waste to energy" facilities, which would use incinerators and "whose siting may be restricted to environmentally overburdened communities of color" -- like Hunts Point.

Bronx News Roundup, Wednesday, April 13

Weather: Nasty, cold, windy, drizzly. I think I saw my breath this morning. If we can make it through today, tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful -- warm and sunny.

Story of the Day: Environmental Injustice!
The Bronx has long fought against the idea that it is simply a dumping ground -- for city-funded homeless shelters, massive (and over-budget) water filtration plants in our parks and, of course, actual garbage. Some 60 percent of the city's garbage is dumped in two areas saturated with waste transfer stations: Newton Creek in Brooklyn and Hunts Point here in the Bronx. Manhattan produces 40 percent of the city's garbage, but has no transfer stations. Five years ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he would make the garbage distribution more equitable and open three new transfer stations in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. That plan has now been shelved (Bloomberg pulled the funding, but a spokesman said he's still "fully committed" to trash equity, whatever that means), leading advocates to cry foul. "This . . . tale of two cities needs to end," Kelly Terry-Sepulveda, executive director of The Point Community Development Corporation in Hunts Point, told the Daily News. "We were moving in the right direction. Let's not backtrack."

Quick Hits: 
We'll start with the bad news. Police say a 17-year-old opened fire on East Burnside Avenue last night, killing 16-year-old Dontae Murray, who was shot in the head, and injuring another man who was struck in the hand.

One of the two female Bronx cops who stand accused of savagely beating a motorist while off duty said their accuser went "ballistic" and ripped open her shirt during their tussle. The NYPD is being sued for $25 million over the incident.

Tenants, advocates and elected officials say the New York Community Bank is irresponsibly dumping several Bronx apartment building mortgages that have reached foreclosure. They would rather see the bank sell to a vetted nonprofit organization.[link fixed]

By April 30, 18 Bronx schools identified by the state as low-performing, including Banana Kelly High School, MS 391 and Fordham Leadership Academy, will learn whether or not they will face closure

Police arrested and charged a man with the murder of a Bronx grandmother who was stabbed to death three months ago.

OK, now for some more positive stories. More alewife are being found in the Bronx River, an indicator that the river's water quality continues to improve.

Mott Haven residents are enjoying the city's Garden and Greening program

The city's Ghanaian population, much of it concentrated in the Bronx, turns funerals into party destinations and fundraisers.

The Times profiles Paul Sliva, the down-to-earth golf pro who plies his trade at the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Golf Course.  

And finally, as we reported yesterday, Soundview native and college basketball star Kemba Walker is taking his game to the next level, announcing that he would enter the NBA draft this year rather than return to the University of Connecticut for his senior season. Walker's on pace to graduate a year early in May. Here's some shaky video (but no ads) of his press conference yesterday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bronx Hoops Star Kemba Walker Declares for NBA Draft

Bronx boy Kemba Walker, the charismatic point guard who led the University of Connecticut men's basketball team an an extraordinary run to Big East and NCAA Tournament titles, announced today he will skip his senior season and enter the NBA draft.

The decision came as no surprise to many observers who watched Walker, who is on pace to graduate a year early in May, emerge this year as one of the most dynamic offensive players in college basketball. He averaged 23.5 points per game, good for fifth in the nation.

"I just think it's the right time for me to go to the NBA," Walker said at a press conference Tuesday, according to USA Today. "It's a happy day, but a sad day because I am leaving my brothers."

Walker, who grew up in Soundview and attended IS 174, wrote a diary during the tournament for the Daily News

Bronx Events: A Lunchtime Concert April 14 at North Central Bronx Hospital

Concert at NCBH Ad_Norwood News

Here's the rest of our calendar of Bronx events ...

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

60 Budget Fixes from the Independent Budget Office

Following is a press release we just received from the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan city agency, announcing a report that looks at 60 ways to cut spending or increase revenue to plug the hole in the city's budget. We thought it was worth reprinting here. We'd love to hear your suggestions, too, on where the city might find some untapped revenue, and where it can cut. So comment away. Here's the release ...

The New York City Independent Budget Office today released the 10th annual edition of its Budget Options for New York City. The new edition includes more than 60 options for cutting costs and raising revenue, and provides pros and cons for each measure presented.

“Although New York City’s tax revenues may have started to rebound from the recession, the city still faces significant budget challenges,” said IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein. “This volume, with its clear calculations of expected savings or revenues from dozens of budget options as well as the best arguments for and against each of the measures, can help policymakers and the public as they consider ways to address the city’s ongoing fiscal difficulties.”

Some of the options for annual savings and revenues presented for the first time include:
·         Eliminating the parent coordinator position in public schools (saving $87 million)
·         Asking the state to give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, rather than the city, responsibility for administering civil service exams for NYC Transit and MTA Bridges and Tunnels employees (saving $4 million annually)