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     Click here for Inner City Press' weekday news reports, from the United Nations and elsewhere.  Click here for a recent BBC piece on Inner City Press' reporting from the United Nations  Search This Site    Click for March 1, 2011 BloggingHeads.tv re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption by Inner City Press.     Click here for Inner City Press front page

  ICP has published a (double) book about a variety of Bronx-relevant topics -- a review in Commonweal magazine of Dec. 5, 2003, opines  that "Predatory Bender... is as vivid an account of life in the Bronx as you are likely to read" -- click here for sample chapters, here for an interactive maphere for fast ordering and delivery, and here for other ordering information.  See also, "City Lit: Roman a Klepto [Review of ‘Predatory Bender’]," by Matt Pacenza, City Limits, Sept.-Oct. 2004. CBS MarketWatch of April 23, 2004, says the the novel has "some very funny moments," and that the non-fiction mixes "global statistics and first-person accounts." The Washington Post of March 15, 2004, calls Predatory Bender: America in the Aughts "the first novel about predatory lending;" the London Times of April 15, 2004, "A Novel Approach," said it "has a cast of colorful characters."   The Pittsburgh City Paper of Dec. 11, 2003, wrote that it "may, in fact, be the first great American lending malfeasance novel" including "low-level loan sharks, class-action lawyers, corporate bigwigs, hired muscle, corrupt politicians, Iraq War veterans, Wall Street analysts, reporters and one watchdog with a Web site."  And all in The Bronx!   Click here for that review; for more information, contact us.
2014: MRL on Beacon Reader

October 20, 2014:

So on Monday, Oct 20, BP Diaz will be at Casita Maria’s 80th Anniversary gala at the Plaza Hotel - 768 5th Avenue, Manhattan. Who knew? Elouise. Meanwhile, since Casita Maria is taking it to Manhattan, we like this, on the Lower East Side: Councilwoman Rosie Mendez at a street co-naming ceremony in honor of former Councilwoman Miriam Friedlander, southeast corner of East 6th Street and 2nd Avenue. Right one.

October 13, 2014

It's time to stop Stericycle from amending or renewing its DEC waste transfer station permit for 910 East 138th Street and Locust Avenue to allow for the transfer of hazardous wastes like fixer and developer solutions that come from X-ray processing.

October 6, 2014

Lawsuit: More than 25 tenants of 1460 Washington Avenue in the Morris Houses went on September 29 to Bronx Housing Court for their first appearance in a lawsuit against NYCHA. The Group HP lawsuit aims to force the public housing authority to make necessary repairs to the building’s uninhabitable conditions including water leaks, severe mold, broken doors and windows, and peeling paint on the walls. The residents have also struggled with inadequate and inconsistent heat and hot water for the past two decades. Morris Houses is home to over 3,000 residents who live under these conditions...

September 29, 2014

This, we want to hear more about: “State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson and New York City Councilman Andy King and others hold a press conference to advocate for open, early and automatic delivery of evidence through the repeal of criminal procedure law 240, Bronx Civil Court, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx.”

We note this, Brownfields application for “Webster Avenue Residences, site ID #C203075. This site is located in the Borough of Bronx, within the County of Bronx, and is located at 1960-1982 Webster Ave. and 4269 Park Ave.”

September 22, 2014

Constance Malcolm – the mother of Ramarley – said last week: “We are encouraged that the Department of Justice has opened a full investigation into the killing of our son Ramarley. We believe clear and sufficient evidence of civil rights violations exists for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to bring charges against the NYPD officers responsible. Police officers cannot bust into a house without a warrant and shoot an unarmed civilian in front of their grandmother and 6-year-old brother, as NYPD officers did to Ramarley, without legal repercussions."

September 15, 2014

On the one-year anniversary vigil for Bradley Ballard “who passed away on September 11th, 2013 after staff at Rikers Island refused to provide medical care when he was found unresponsive in his jail cell after spending seven days isolated there. Residents will call on Bronx County District Attorney Robert Johnson to prosecute the staff responsible for Mr. Ballard’s death. No one has been held accountable for his death although it was ruled a homicide by a medical examiner. On Wednesday, Mr.Ballard’s family filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the city, correction officials, and a medical services contractor.”

September 8, 2014

Two Bronxites were awarded Shawn Carter/Gilman International Scholarships, the US State Department announced last week:

Jazmin Gonzalez, a first-generation college student from the Bronx, New York, studying history and Arabic languages and literature at Bard College, studied in Rabat, Morocco, this summer.

Clinton Langston Jr., a first-generation college student from the Bronx, New York, who is an arts student at City University of New York, Hostos Community College, studied in Paris, France, this summer.

September 1, 2014

We recommend: The Bronx Documentary Center family and RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) are devastated by the loss of James Foley, who was killed this week in Syria by his captors. James had attended the RISC course at the BDC...

On Sept. 6th at 8:15pm, the BDC will host a fundraiser to honor his memory. Rachel Beth Anderson and Tim Grucza, RISC colleagues of James, will show their film First to Fall. All proceeds will go to honoring James Foley’s memory as his family finds appropriate.

An intimate story of friendship, sacrifice and the madness of war. It bears witness to the irreversible transformation of two friends, Tarek and Hamid, and the price they pay for their conviction. Q&A with director Rachel Beth Anderson and co-director Tim Grucza. Moderated by Lydia Polgreen of the NYT. 614 Courtlandt Avenue (@ 151st St.) Bronx

Inner City Press has covered the aftermath of Foley's murder here and here.

August 25, 2014

Appearing in the Bronx for the NY Botanical Society Photographic Society on September 6 is Essdras Suarez of the Rocky Mountain News and currently the Boston Globe. He’s covered news in over 30 countries including the Iraq War, Haiti, and the Japanese Tsunami. Domestic assignments included covering the Columbine shooting and the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster. Check it out...

August 18, 2014

NYC Protest of Missouri Police Abuse Closes 42nd Street, "Don't Shoot"

By Matthew Russell Lee

MANHATTAN, August 14, updated -- In the Manhattan version of National Moment of Silence for the killing of Michael Brown and police crackdown in Ferguson, Missouri, 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue was cordoned off by NYPD and protesters told to leave or be arrested.

   Inner City Press was on the scene, repeatedly told to back away by the police, brandishing handcuffs. Protesters had hands raised, saying "Don't shoot." It being near Times Square, tourists on the way asked, "Where is St. Louis?" Where indeed.

Update: And hours later, though the protest was a block from the headquarters of the New York Times, nothing on its webpage or Twitter feed. The revolution will not be....

 At the UN on August 13 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the killing and crackdown. Video here.

  Dujarric began by saying that Ban and the UN have "no particular comment," then added that "as in all cases, the right to demonstrate peacefully needs to be respected, and investigations need to be conducted." Okay, then.

  On August 14, Inner City Press asked again:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you again about these incidents in Ferguson, Missouri.  And the reason being that they’ve become, even they’ve basically been covered by all international media now.  Journalists have been arrested.  Tear gas was used on camera on unarmed protesters.  So, I’m just wondering, beyond the general statements of yesterday, does anyone in the UN system intend to contact either local authorities — do you think…?

Spokesman:  At this point, I have nothing to add to what I said yesterday.  

   Well. There have been reports mentioned the financial institutions in the area, including nationwide lenders Bank of America, US Bank and Fifth Third.

  Inner City Press and Fair Finance Watch reviewed the demographics of mortgage lending by these three in the area in the most recent year for which data is publicly available, 2012.

   In the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area in 2012, Bank of America denied the conventional home purchase mortgage applications of African Americans 1.81 times more frequently then those of whites.
 
  Fair Finance Watch has previously objected to US Bank's stealth branch closings, including in Chicago, here and here. The US Community Reinvestment Act requires banks to lend fairly in all of their communities, but is not sufficiently enforced, FFW has shown.

For US Bank, the disparities was 1.6 to 1; for Fifth Third Mortgage, that company's lender, it was a whopping 4.95 to 1: African American applicants were denied 4.95 times more frequently than whites, worse that the aggregate (all lenders).

  Troublingly, for all lenders Latinos were denied 3.1 times more frequently than than whites. So where is the US headed? And why has the UN had nothing to say so far? Watch this site.


 
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August 11, 2014

Nice day: August 9 in Crotona Park, the fifth annual Ghana Parade and Festival.

August 4, 2014

There are now protests for Bradley Ballard who died “on September 11th, 2013 after staff at Rikers Island refused to provide medical care when he was found unresponsive in his jail cell after spending seven days isolated there.”

July 28, 2014

NYS Department of Labor statistics show “unemployment in New York City boroughs Queens and the Bronx show higher-than-average unemployment... highest in the Bronx, with a rate of 10 percent.”

Meanwhile, DoT promoted “The Boogie Down Booth, a temporary resting spot underneath the Freeman Street subway station” -- nice touch, but it's the people evicted, for example on Home Street and Hoe Avenue, that should be remembered...

July 21, 2014

The killing by police choke-hold of Eric Garner on Staten Island, beginning to be acted on because filmed, here, echoes the killing in the Bronx by Anthony Baez while he was throwing a football back and forth with his brothers. What will be done?

July 14, 2014

So property owners are being urged to sign up for NYC's “graffiti removal program, Graffiti Free NYC (GFNYC). GFNYC is the City’s first ever, full-time, street-by-street graffiti removal program and is a service provided by NYC Economic Development Corporation.”

Question: how would this have applied to, say Five Pointz in Queens or many landmarks in The Bronx? Is there no carve-out?

July 7, 2014

When Mayor De Blasio announced new funding for arts in the schools at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on July 1, he thanked the chair of the City Council Cultural Affairs Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer and cited “Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music” as “one of the nation’s premier music high schools.” Oye! Now how about something in New York City and The Bronx in honor of Ismael Rivera? Ya es tiempo.

June 30, 2014

How can it be that MetroNorth can get away with having suburban Connecticut trains stop at Fordham Road in The Bronx and REFUSES to pick up ticket-holding Bronxites? The conductors say, “discharge only,” and falsely claim, “There's a Harlem Line train right behind.” They know it's as much as 20 minutes behind. This is redlining, literally.

Some think that Community Reinvestment Act officers are progressive. But here in New York City, where new Mayor Bill De Blasio appointed the CRA Officer of M&T Bank -- apparently without knowing much about him or M&T -- to the Rent Guidelines Board, the banker blocked a rent freeze that his appointer De Blasio favored. Afterward De Blasio said, “From everything I’ve heard of him, he’s a person of integrity.” Heard?

June 23, 2014

The new bill that passed the NY State Senate Wednesday would direct the New York State Department of Health to study and prepare a plan for dealing with the high incidents of asthma in the Bronx. It now moves to the State Assembly for a vote...

For rent increase freeze: Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council members Margaret Chin (D-1st), Corey Johnson (D-3rd), Mark Levine (D-7th), Ydanis Rodriguez (D-10th), and Helen Rosenthal (D-6th) - taking note.

  And this: the push for a fence in Starlight Park after the drowning there of 13-year-old Erickson Villa on June 20...

June 16, 2014

In NYC, Foreclosure Wave by Mega-Banks, Redlining Valley National

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, June 9 -- Lower income communities of color have the most mortgage foreclosures, and the fewest bank branches, new studies of New York City demonstrate. There are 29,729 pre-foreclosures in New York City according to May 5, 2014 data purchased from RealtyTrak.com...

  Citywide, 80% of these foreclosures are in communities of color. In The Bronx and Queens the percentage or targeting rises to 93%.

  The lenders with the most pre-foreclosures in New York City are Wells Fargo with 1,273; US Bank with 1,116; JP Morgan Chase with 1,043; Deutsche Bank with 760; and HSBC with 741. Where is the Federal Reserve in all this: asleep at the switch again?

  Meanwhile while these big banks move to close branches -- the most recent example is US Bank closing 13 branches of 93 acquired from Royal Bank of Scotland, on which Inner City Press reported here -- midsized institutions simply bypass lower income communities of color.

  Inner City Press and Fair Finance Watch, along with other NCRC members, is looking into Valley National Bank's proposed acquisition of 1st United in Florida. Fair Finance Watch has filed two comments to date with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, first with this lending pattern:

  In 2012 in the New York City MSA for refinance loans, Valley National made 2152 such loans to whites and only 38 to African Americans -- entirely of keeping with the demographics and demographics of home ownership in the New York City MSA. Valley National denied 67% of such applications from African Americans, versus only 34.5% of such application from white.

  For home purchase loans in the NYC MSA in 2012, Valley National made 69 such loans to whites, only one to an African American and only two to Latinos, for which it had a denial rate of 62.5% versus only 36.6% for whites.

  For home improvement loans in the NYC MSA, Valley National made 26 such loans to whites, only one to an African American and only two to Latinos, for which it had a denial rate of 50% versus only 21.9% for whites.

  On June 8, Fair Finance Watch filed a second comment, including that:

Valley National has branches only below 88th Street in Manhattan (in which, intriguingly, a "Yellowbrick Real Estate Capital" breaks into the top five in pre-foreclosures).

  Valley National has no branches in Harlem, Washington Heights or The Bronx, predominantly African American and Latinos, low and moderate income areas.

  In Queens, it's Middle Village and Kew Gardens. In Brooklyn, Valley National's branches are along Ocean Parkway and in Bay Ridge. What about East New York, Brownsville, Bushwick and Bedford Stuyvesant?

  Meanwhile we are sorry to say, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, rather than provide the documents Inner City Press requested under the Freedom of Information Act, tried to cancel the entire FOIA request by claiming to mis-understand one part of it, as stated in a June 5 telephone call with the OCC's Rosalye Settles.

 Inner City Press has not yet received a single one of the requested documents, all of which should be provided during the comment period (set to expire on June 20).

On June 11, Inner City Press went to a Valley National Bank in Manhattan to seek its CRA Assessment Area / Statement. At the VNB branch at 350 Park Avenue, Branch Service Manager Daniel Solomon when asked about the CAR Assessment Area at first tried to give Inner City Press a CD-ROM of the bank's 2013 Annual Report. Then after much back and forth he emerged with a binder that did not include the assessment area, directing the public elsewhere -- with the wrong address -- for that.

This is indicative of Valley National Bank's approach and attitude to CRA. There should be public hearings and on the current record, Valley National Bank's application should be denied.

June 9, 2014

Last week say the delivery of “petitions with more than 600 signatures demanding that Senate co-Majority Leader Sen. Jeff Klein, candidates and other elected officials pass the NY State DREAM Act. Earlier in the year, Sen. Jeff Klein's majority coalition with Senate Republicans failed in an attempt to pass the legislation, leading to calls for Klein to rejoin the Democratic caucus to improve prospects for passage.”

June 2, 2014

Is there such a thing as hotel gentrification? Or gentrification triggering new hotels, as in Long Island City, Queens? In Melrose, the Umbrella Hotel at 681 Elton Avenue between E 153rd and 154th Streets will have rates from $129 – $159 per night, according to Manny Chadha of AMG Elton LLC. “There’s a lot going on in Melrose, with green construction and developments like Via Verde,” he says. Yeah.

May 26, 2014

  Belmont in the news: An Italo-Swiss tourist punched and killed on Washington Avenue, a teenager pushed through the window of the Hookah Spot on Arthur Avenue -- by a police officer....

Opening May 30 at 305 East 140th Street is “Terroir.... a group exhibition that endeavors to investigate and rekindle our relationship with the land. War, hunger and inequality are all social conflicts that have historically influenced the issues of rights and ownership of land in order to benefit the few.” Can you say, homesteading?

May 19, 2014

  This we like, May 22, 2014:

Bobby Sanabria
- Diana Gitesha Hernández
- H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory
- Not4Prophet
 As the City Lore Gallery. 56 E 1st St

May 12, 2014

This we like: Bronx World Film Cycle, on June 1 at “La Nacional” in Manhattan, holds its first summer screening event including a “3-d Graffiti” exhibit and a World Music concert, and

Patricia Chica “Chicatronica” - a Salvadoran/Canadian master of the psychological thriller.

DJ Neva Wartell, New York media personality, ethnomusicologist and activist spins World Music!

Z.S. Rosenfeld. A short, poetic film tribute to Europe’s abandoned synagogues by filmmaker/photographer Rosenfeld. Set to an evocative score by Elie Massias. (World Premier).

Lara Bello. The multi-talented World Music recording artist, dancer, writer and designer from Granada, Spain...

Elie Massias, expert in the music of Andalucía in the Middle Ages

James Lovell and Lucy Blanco. Garífuna composers, singers, Cultural Ambassadors and Masters of Caribbean Maroon music

Óscar Berrío. Avant garde filmmaker, photographer, writer and faithful collaborator shares his latest puzzle-like videopoems

We like videopoems...

May 5, 2014

Bronx Week runs May 8-18, preliminary schedule here http://ilovethebronx.com/images/stories/BW14/2014%20calendar%20online.pdf

April 28, 2014

With Bronx day in Albany hyping up "Don Coqui," presumably the one on City Island, we have to ask: what is its relation to one in Astoria?

April 21, 2014

Here is disparate impact: the US Postal Service, to open a Post Office box, requires an application to have either a "current lease, mortgage or dead of trust" or a "voter or vehicle registration card" or a "home or vehicle insurance policy."

So you have to either own a car or a home or be the one listed on a rental lease. Inner City Press looked into it and asked, So a homeless person cannot get a post office box?

No, was the answer. Disparate impact #1.

But even people who live in a rented apartment often are not on the lease. So if that case, you HAVE to register to vote? Inner City Press asked, what about an anarchist? What happened to land of the free, home of the brave? How is this legal? We'll have more on this.

April 14, 2014

This we like, with a Bronx connection:

STYLE WARS is regarded as the indispensable document of NY street culture and subway graffiti art of the early '80s, the filmic record of a golden age of youthful creativity that exploded into the world from a city in crisis. It won the Grand Prize for Documentaries at the 1983 Sundance Film Festival and continues to gain a following. 30 years later, Veli and Amos, two Style Wars fans from Europe, travel through today's graffiti and street art scene. The journey takes them from Europe to New York and ends in the Middle East. Style Wars 2 features encounters with graffiti artists and explores the idea of "doing the wrong thing." Thursday, April 17th at 7pm to watch a double feature screening of Style Wars I & II, and participate in conversation with Producer, Henry Chalfant, and a graffiti writer featured in the film.

When: Thursday, April 17th, doors at 6:30pm, Screening at 7:00pm
Where: The City Lore Gallery, 56 E 1st St. New York, NY 10003

April 7, 2014

Here's a question: what are the environmental justice implications of moving the auto shops from Queens to Hunts Point in the South Bronx? The City says, "the relocation of the Sunrise Co-op to their new facility is an as-of-right transaction between two private parties." But what about EJ? Watch this site.

March 31, 2014

Rights Applied to NY City Council, Haiti Cholera Test, Bronx Scores Low

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 25, updated -- If it's true that all politics are local, then why not from the New York-based UN, embroiled in such questions as war crimes in Sri Lanka and France leaving Muslims at risk of attack in the Central African Republic, consider the records of New York City Councilmembers?

  The Urban Justice Center today releases a report card on the Council, assigning grade from A+ down to a C and C- in Staten Island to members of the NYC City Council.

  The report "revisits two recent land-use projects -- Willets Point in Queens and Seward Park Extension Urban Park Renewal Area in Manhattan, which impact New Yorkers' housing, workers' and government accountability rights. It also discusses the human rights implications of waterfront redevelopment projects in Mill Basin, Brooklyn and St. George, Staten Island in post Hurricane Sandy New York City."

  The UN famously failed during Super Storm Sandy, neglecting to inform Ambassadors when it would be closed and when their cars, with diplomatic plates, could be removed from the UN's underground garages, as Inner City Press reported.

  In Haiti, the UN thumbs its nose at principles of accountability, refusing to even acknowledge service of process of legal papers in court cases from bringing cholera to the Island.

   But former Mayor Bloomberg is now a UN official, on climate change; Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was going to meet with Mayor Bill De Blasio until it got canceled on the day of the East Harlem gas explosion.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access asked why it was not on Ban's public schedule, but UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said since it got canceled, this did not have to be answered. Isn't the right to information also a human right?

  The Bronx scored low.

  The top eight in the rankings are all from Manhattan or Brooklyn; the top Bronxite after that represent Riverdale. Have any Councilmembers joined the call on the US Mission to the UN, or State Department in DC, to hold the UN accountable for cholera in Haiti? If all politics are local, they should.

Updated: the above was published at the March 24-25 midnight embargo time. But on the afternoon of March 25, Inner City Press asked UJC's Research and Policy Coordinator Nicole Bramsted if the reports considered Council members' work on such issues as holding the UN accountable for cholera in Haiti -- or, one might add, extending a human rights monitoring mandate to the UN mission in Western Sahara. Inner City Press also ask for any comment on there being no Bronx (or Queens) Council members in the top eight ranked members.

  Bramsted and her colleague replied that such work is included in the narrative portion of the surveys, for example resolutions for the Senate to ratify CEDAW; low scoring geographies, it was said, could be held up in the spotlight. Watch this site.

March 24, 2014

Saddest thing from the March 21 day book:

12 p.m. – State, city and community officials hold a press conference in remembrance of the victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, Happy Land Memorial Monument, East Tremont Avenue and Southern Boulevard, Bronx.

March 17, 2014

Too late to see (March 16) but too important not to note: screening of "Yuri Kochiyama: Passion For Justice" by Pat Saunders and Rea Tajiri, (1994) and panel including Cleo Silvers is a former member of both the Young Lords Party and the New York State Chapter of the Black Panther Party who worked with their medical cadre as a Community Mental Health Worker at Lincoln Hospital and served as co-chairperson of the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement (HRUM). She helped organize two militant takeovers of Lincoln Hospital which led to the formation of the Lincoln Detox Center. Those were some days...

March 10, 2014

The NYT's March 7 piece about the South Bronx waterfront quotes a restaurant owner who acts as if he didn't consider the location before signing at 20 year lease. It's not believable.

March 3, 2014

Sushi shootout: Police say a gun-wielding man was shot by police outside of an affordable Japanese restaurant on East 187th Street on March 1. Officers inside the Sake II restaurant heard a commotion outside just after 7:30 p.m. They say they found 22-year-old Jayson Ramos outside holding up a gun and threatening to shoot three people. The officers ordered Ramos to drop the gun. Instead, he fled on foot down Beaumont Avenue, prompting the officers to give chase. As they were chasing Ramos down the street, he allegedly turned around and pointed a 9mm pistol at them. One officer took action and shot him in the leg. Ramos was taken into custody and taken to Saint Barnabas Hospital. He now faces charges including criminal possession of a weapon with intent to use and reckless endangerment. Bento box...

February 24, 2014

From BP Diaz' February 20 "State of the Borough" speech: "If a politician in Paris decides to use our hometown to make a cheap political point, or a tour operator twists facts to make a quick buck, we will set the record straight." We too.

February 17, 2014

On Feb 13, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Department of Sanitation garage at 800 E. 176th St to give an update on the winter storm...

February 10, 2014

On Feb. 6 it was a tale of two Bronxes: at 11:30 a rally to protect Girls Prep Bronx Charter School, Girls Prep Bronx Charter School on Kelly Street; at 2 pm, de Blasio speaking at the Osborne Association...

February 3, 2014

So Melissa Mark-Viverito holds her inauguration ceremony at Hostos Community College; 187th Street saw a fundraiser for Victor Pichardo at "Arthur Avenue Floral's Amazing Space," and BP Diaz' "State of the Boro" will be on Feb. 20. Click here for Inner City Press on the State of the Union: http://www.innercitypress.com/sotu1noun012814.html

January 27, 2014

FOX's show "the following" will be gumming up the streets of Belmont this week, on January 28 on Hughes and Crescent and Arthur Avenues. The flier they put up says they are working with "the individual towns and villages" -- nice...

January 20, 2014

Fire sale: now the US Postal Service says it wants to just sell off the Bronx General Post Office at 149th Street and Grand Concourse. To the highest bidder?

"Outgoing Metro-North President Howard Permut says the December derailment in the Bronx will affect him for the rest of his life" - is that why under his watch, trains in from the suburbs in Connecticut stop to unload passengers at Fordham Road but refuse to take any passengers on, even those who've already paid?

January 13, 2014

Maybe malls aren't the way to go, at least in The Bronx: the Concourse Plaza is half empty, and "The Crossings" slated for Southern Boulevard and 163rd Street won't in fact have any housing, just a big Red Lobster. Just what's needed in Hunt's Point...

January 6, 2014

As we reported in advance last week, at the De Blasio inauguration, Bronxite Lissette Ortiz introduced Bill Clinton, who introduced "Big Bill." The next day his chancellor of eduction Farina visited M.S. 223, The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, at 360 E. 145 St in the Bronx. Back on December 30, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito had been sworn in at the Millbrook Houses not far away on St. Ann’s Avenue. How will they all do? Watch this site.

December 30, 2013

So for the De Blasio inauguration on January 1, the first introduction will be by a Bronxite, Lissette Ortiz, a senior at Medgar Evers College originally from the DR. Vamos!

Meanwhile, 753 Melrose Avenue: "The site was historically operated as a dry cleaner in the 1950's, and had solvent tanks in the rear of the property. Soil vapor and groundwater at the site are contaminated with chlorinated solvents, primarily tetrachloroethene (PCE) and its breakdown products. Due to the concentrations of PCE detected in groundwater and soil vapor, in conjunction with the proximity of occupied buildings to the site, further investigation to evaluate the nature and extent of contamination and the potential for exposures to contamination from the site is warranted."

December 23, 2013

Strange to be seeing outgoing Mayor Bloomberg taking credit for hot sheet motels in the Bronx. Last week he bragged of The Bronx "six new hotels have opened since 2002 – with another three under development."

December 16, 2013

So the Abu Dhabi sheiks including Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan and First Gulf Bank behind Manchester City football club now want NYC bonds to move a business from the Bronx and build a 28,000 soccer stadium?

For a "28,000-seat stadium in The Bronx just south of Yankee Stadium... the New York City Football Club — majority owned by the Manchester City Football Club of the Premier League in the UK — is “very, very close” to inking a deal with GAL Manufacturing, an elevator parts company, sources close to the deal said.

The deal with the soccer club, which is 20 percent owned by the Yankees, will also include the not-for-profit Bronx Parking Development Company.

The $400 million stadium will be located on what now is an empty lot between the Major Deegan and East 153rd Street, a source following the situation said.

Mayor Bloomberg has blessed the pact.

However, the team will not move forward without mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s blessing, and he has not yet reviewed the deal"

Watch this site.

December 9, 2013

Against the machine: Vincent Marchiselli, Bronx Assemblyman in the 80s standing up to Stanley Friedman, Stanley Simon et al, has died. He was a storefront politician, leaning right but recto as they say. RIP.

December 2, 2013

We're all for promoting the Bronx. But to blithely celebrate "Bronx Brewery Featured in a Chase Bank Commercial, CONGRATULATIONS DAMIAN BROWN & CHRISTOPHER GALLANT" seems to ignore the recent worldwide flame-out of #AskJPM...

November 25, 2013

Look at http://mappingbronxstories.com/ -- in the South Bronx, there's Don Delillo (NOT by the pastry shop), Martin Scorsese, Herman Wouk and Theodore Dreiser. OK - but what about SINCE then?

November 18, 2013

Friday at Family Dollar: "Police are looking for a man they say shot two people in the Bronx. The shooting happened shortly after 5 p.m. Police say the man chased two people across East 149th Street in Mott Haven and shot them in front of a Family Dollar Store. There are three different schools within two blocks of where the incident took place."

November 11, 2013

This, we're looking forward to:

Daily News: Tell me about your new venture, a museum of hip hop culture you’re launching with Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Wizard Theodore.

Melle Mel: Us, as the fathers, the pioneers of hip hop, we have a responsibility to the art form. The “Windows of Hip Hop,” it’s a campus for hip hop.

Caz: There’s a lot of empty land in the Bronx, and any institution dedicated to hip hop has to be in the Bronx. We’re trying to make that a reality. This is a big year for the culture, 40 years strong. Look how far we’ve come.

Melle Mel: We’re going to see this become a reality. It’s a celebration of what we did in the past, as well as the present and what we can do in the future. It’ll help tourism in the Bronx expeditiously. It’ll be another feather in the cap of the most underrated borough.

November 4, 2013

So Goldman Sachs' bank has been given an "Outstanding" CRA rating, trumpeted in the Wall Street Journal. GS is given CRA credit for lending to the CitiBank program. But since the bike racks are all below 60th Street in Manhattan and in gentrified or gentrifying parts of Brooklyn -- a veritable redlining map, nothing in The Bronx -- why does this get CRA credit? It's a scam...

How can this be?

Citizens Union 2013 General Election Candidate Endorsements

Bronx Endorsements

No races evaluated

None??

October 21, 2013

This week we travel one borough away, on a topic much associated with The Bronx: excellent grafitti art. In Long Island City, Queens, the 5Pointz at 45-46 Davis Street which one sees when the 7 train comes overground is threatened with demolition to build, what else, another condominium building. The neighborhood there is being overrun, first with hotels and now luxury housing. Citigroup can be thanked for the gentrification. But this one is too much. A lawsuit has been filed, asserting violations of the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”) and copyright law, and asking the Eastern District to issue an injunction to prevent the destruction of 5Pointz pending the outcome of the lawsuit. It is Cohen, et al. v. G & M Realty L.P., et al. (Index No. CV13-5612) and we're rooting for it.

October 14, 2013

It's the 30th anniversary of "Wild Style," and there is a photographic Then and Now comparison we recommend, here: http://www.complex.com/city-guide/2013/09/wild-style-now-and-then-photos/fantastic-five

October 7, 2013

The gunning down in Washington of a seemingly emotionally disturbed person made us think back, in The Bronx, to Eleanor Bumpers, killed by police in her apartment. There has to be a better way.

September 30, 2013

This, we suppport: November 21: "Every year, as Thanksgiving rolls around, the media suddenly remembers that people are homeless and hungry in New York City. Picture the Homeless knows that homeless folks are hungry all year round. For food, and for justice. And for a good party!"

September 23, 2013

As if in honor of General Debate week at the UN, on Thursday September 26 in the Bronx Boro Hall Rotunda they are feting Ecuador - be there!

September 16, 2013

How can it be that two days after last Tuesday's election, "the New York City Board of Elections still had not counted any votes in 48 election precincts, most of them in the South Bronx"?

Then again in Buffalo, population 261,000, only14,000 people voted in the primaries....

September 9, 2013

On Syria, UN Censors Try to Cut Off Questions, Ask Who the Questioner Works For

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 4 -- On Syria during Wednesday's UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq to respond to Syria's August 31 statement that the US, France and UK lobbied for the UN to NOT look into WHO used chemical weapons at Khan al Asal.

  Haq repeated Ban's statement from the day before in his two-question press conference: that Ban made the decision.

  Inner City Press asked if Ban agrees with his predecessor Kofi Annan, speaking for The Elders, that member states should await the UN report before reaching conclusions and deciding on action, as is taking place in the US Congress.
  
   Haq said Ban would have no comment, citing sovereignty.

  Another journalist, accredited with a Pacifica radio station and a member of the Free UN Coalition for Access, asked about depleted uranium and about the story by the former AP string based on interviews, that the chemical weapons in Ghouta came through Saudi sources.

  Before Haq could answer, another journalist in the front row who often speaks for the UN Correspondents Association tried to cut the question off. She was (and is) at the left hand of UNCA's 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS. FUNCA says this is not how it is supposed to work, establishment scribes silencing or purporting to answer the questions of others.

Worse, as soon as the briefing was over this UNCA spokesperson immediately went to UN spokesperson Haq demanding to know, "Who does she work for?"

  This is how it works with the UN's Censorship Alliance, which held a faux "UN briefing" with Saudi backed Syria rebel boss Jarba which the UN is still not answering Press questions about. Beyond trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, they try to cut off others' questioning.

  The Pacifica reporter, referring to a history with this Reuters "retiree," inquired with Haq but got no satisfaction. He or the Department of Public Information through which Ban "partners" with this UN Censorship Alliance should at a minimum remind these insiders that all journalists have a right to ask their questions, and get answers from the UN spokesperson, not insider scribes. Watch this site.


 
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It sure looks innovative:

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced proposed Slumlord Prevention Guidelines (SPG). The guidelines include new Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations from the Department of Financial Services (DFS)and Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services that incentivize banks -- but how, without meaningful comment periods and processing on mergers?

This NY Dep't of Financial Services, so far, is LESS open to CRA comments that its predecessor. Watch this site.

September 2, 2013

Now begins the hype: the "60-room Opera House Hotel, run by the Empire Hotel Group, opened in the South Bronx... For rates that start as low as $100 a night, guests get a fairly spacious guest room, complimentary continental breakfast, free WiFi, and (as of April 2014) complimentary access to a Crunch Gym next door. Before you gripe about the location, consider this: the 3rd Avenue subway station is next door and gets you to Midtown in about 20 minutes on the 2 and 5 Trains. If we were visiting NYC, we'd be tempted to stay in the Bronx for rates like that." Gripe.

August 26, 2013

Last week tenants of 888 Grand Concourse filed a contempt case in Bronx Housing Court against the building’s landlord, Louis Bombart, ranked #4 worst landlord in the city according to the Public Advocate’s “Worst Landlords Watchlist.” The lawsuit responds to Bombart’s refusal to comply with court orders to repair more than 342 violations....

August 19, 2013

Amazing - now MetroNorth simply shuts down the Tremont Station, already under-served, for an infrequent shuttle bus to Fordham. For Melrose? They advise going to Yankee Stadium 153 Street on the other line...

August 12, 2013

"I am more than outraged," said Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham. “Richard Haste broke into our home and killed my son in cold blood. The criminal justice system has failed us... This past May, Judge Steven Barrett dismissed the indictment due to an error made by Assistant District Attorney Nancy Borko when instructing jurors... "In the immediate we are demanding a federal investigation into this case,” said Loyda Colon, Co-Director of the Justice Committee. “In the long-term, if District Attorneys cannot do their jobs correctly, we need another solution. Too often, DAs handle the investigations and prosecutions of police officers who have killed New Yorkers poorly. The failure to indict Haste and other officers who have taken lives proves that we need a special prosecutor for cases of police killings.”

August 5, 2013

So a publicist hyped to Inner City Press that "Chuck Hughes, the celebrity chef from Cooking Channels' Chuck's Eat The Street" will be on Arthur Avenue on August 8 and 9. But the pitch for this season of "Eat the Street" -- it's Wall Street that eats you -- barely mentions The Bronx, saying "Other cities include Washington, D.C.; Charleston, S.C.; The Bronx, N.Y.; and Detroit, Mich. This season also takes Chuck on a journey to explore some of the best streets beyond the country, as he visits St. John's, Newfoundlandand San Juan, Puerto Rico." Well there's that.

July 29, 2013

And so it was said: Del Blasio would on July 28 "Walk in the Bronx Dominican Parade with Chirlane McCray and Dante de Blasio." SOBRO bragged that its "South Bronx Leadership Forum Summer 2013" speaker, all the way on August 12, would be Christine Quinn. Whither Weiner?

July 22, 2013

Gentrification, yes - but have to admit, looking forward to Bronx Brewery at on E 136 between the Cypress Avenue 6 train stop and the East River - and the promised fancy barrels, including tequila...

July 15, 2013

This week for whatever reason we went back and watched the old Bill Moyers report on the South Bronx, “The Fire Next Door.” It had a lot of human detail, but missed the issue of redlining. Too bad...

July 8, 2013

Locust Ave and 140th Street: “prior uses that appear to have led to site contamination include a manufactured gas plant, a gas holder, industrial storage, petroleum/diesel stations, and automotive service stations.” More here.

July 1, 2013

Next bill we're watching: Intro. 1036, which would give parents and staff prompt notice of any environmental assessment of a public school or prospective school site; provide the public with easily accessible information about environmental risks and remedial plans; and empower parents and staff to evaluate and monitor City efforts to protect children....

June 24, 2013

We're watching two bills - the End NYPD Discriminatory Profiling Bill (Intro 1080) and the NYPD Oversight Act (Intro 1079) - and who's not supporting them...

June 17, 2013

We're looking at "Bronx Day in Albany," set for Tuesday, June 18, at The Egg, Empire State Plaza, in Albany. They say, "corporate sponsorships are available for the luncheon and reception." Watch this site.

June 10, 2013

On February 2, 2012, NYPD Officer Richard Haste followed 18-year old Ramarley Graham home, broke down the front door and shot and killed him in the bathroom. Haste claims he believed Graham had a gun, yet no gun was found at the scene. A Bronx grand jury indicted Haste on two counts of manslaughter; the first indictment of an NYPD officer for killing a civilian since 2007.

On May 15, Judge Steven Barrett, the judge presiding over the Haste case, dismissed the indictment due to what Haste’s attorney referred to as “sloppy wording” in the instructions given to jurors by Assistant District Attorney Nancy Borko. Now what?

June 3, 2013

Carpet bagger? A Bronx man has been arrested in connection with what the New York Police Department thinks may be more than 30 cases of rug theft from JPMorgan Chase ATM locations around the city.

May 27, 2013

Another event we recommend, on Friday, May 31, 6:30pm to 9:00pm at the Bronx Museum of the Arts at 1040 Grand Concourse: Puerto Rican History, honoring the Young Lords with free music, poetry, food and spirits. Be there!

May 20, 2013

Ah, the arrogance: North Forker returns, per SNL Financial: "BankUnited Inc. Chairman, President and CEO John Kanas said he believes the bank's new expansion will yield an annual organic growth rate of $2 billion after a year of operation." Let's see...

May 13, 2013

From White House pool report: "Among those singled out by President Obama was Detective Ivan Marcano, who was off duty when he saw two muggers attacking a cab driver in the Bronx. Marcano got out of his girlfriend's car to stop them, when he was shot in the chest. As his girlfriend drove Marcano to the hospital, they randomly ran into the getaway car — at which point Marcano, holding his chest, ran after the suspects and caught them, Obama said. 'This was date night!' the president exclaimed to laughter, asking the woman in the audience to stand and be recognized."

What does it mean, that "they randomly ran into the getaway car"? But hats off...

May 6, 2013

Sometimes, we're happy to promote: like, the 3rd Annual Bronx Week Film Festival featuring films made in the Bronx or by Bronx film makers. Free screenings will begin on Saturday with a ribbon-cutting and will culminate with a wrap party on May 13th. See schedule at www.bronxweekfilmfestival.com

April 29, 2013

After a man from Bangladesh was beaten by Applebee's in The Bronx, Bangladeshis gathered at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Avenue in support of war crimes tribunal in their country. Other Bangladeshis have protests against the court, down by the UN.

New York City has the highest Bangladeshi population in the UN: over 57,000. Per the latest American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, Parkchester has the higest Bangladeshi population in the Bronx, with an estimated 2,642 people. The only neighborhoods more populated with Bengalis are Kensington in Brooklyn (2,671) and Jamaica Hills, Queens (4,104). What about Astoria?

April 22, 2013

Bill de Blasio blows horn in The Bronx: on April 20, trumpets endorsement of State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson; April 21, Parkchester with Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda. Where's Liu and the others?

April 15, 2013

So in The Bronx in 2012, Citigroup denied the mortgage applications of African American 2.4 times more frequently then whites. In Manhattan, Citi's disparity at 2.63. And to the two groups, Citigroup made TEN TIMES as many loans in Manhattan as in The Bronx...

April 8, 2013

And now the US Postal Service, despite opposition, moves to sell the main Bronx post office at 588 Grand Concourse. For shame.

April 1, 2013

This coming Friday April 5 we recommend, at the Bronx Museum of the Arts at 6 pm, the film “Havana, Havana!” blurbed as follows: “Cuban musician Raul Paz brings together fellow musical stars Descemer Bueno, Kelvis Ochoa and David Torrens for a concert in Havana. All of them left Cuba years ago, and their decision to return has injected a new spirit into Cuban music. Mirroring Cuba’s growing relationship with the world, Havana, Havana! highlights how the country’s musical expression is evolving in the 21st century.” Baila!

March 25, 2013

Who knew that the chairman of the FDIC was a Bronxite, who for a time worked for then Congressman Bingham and spent a week a month up in the Northwest Bronx? He knows all the NWBCCC big wigs; he tells a touching story.

But when asked, in writing, what he and FDIC think of the proposal to seize deposits in Cyprus as part of a bailout, no answer's been received. Maybe if the question about about Cypress Avenue in the Bronx? Watch this site.

March 18, 2013

Oh, Operation Clean Halls: Jay Victorino was outside of his mother's apartment when NYPD nearly arrested him for trespassing, if his mother hadn't rescued him...

Rare UN Link to NYC, Police Shooting Raised by ICP, LA Mayor Responds 

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 – At the UN in Manhattan the morning after protests in Brooklyn of the police shooting of 16 year old Kimani Gray, the mayors of cities like Beirut, Bogota and even Los Angeles met as part of UN-Habitat's Global Network on Safer Cities.

  Inner City Press asked the panel about police brutality, and about the death of Kimani Gray. It was LA Mayor Villaraigosa who answered, speaking in favor of civilian review and control of the police, and noting that the preamble of the Network's “outcome document” refers to civil and human rights.

The panel was asked about the use of drones, which witnesses in East Flatbush say the New York Police Department deployed Wednesday night, along with spotlighted helicopters.

  Generally, though, it was a typical UN rah-rah session, with hat tips to gender violence, tolerance and urban planning. Habitat director Joan Clos cited Jane Jacobs; the mayor of Bogota spoke of harm reduction, even the de-criminalization of drugs. The UN's Narcotics Control Board's position is rigidly against this, opposing the program in for example Vancouver.

  The initiative was extra-UN in another way as well: typical in that the participants want money in a trust fund, untypical in that the disbursement, not yet agreed, would avoid national governments and go directly to cities.

  An official from Cote d'Ivoire was asked how a divided city like Abidjan can be kept together. He answered by referring to mayors in the West of the country, reportedly still under-served as a retaliation against those who supported former president Laurent Gbagbo, who is now waiting trial on war crimes charges in The Hague. Now that's a city.... Watch this site.

 Footnote: Inner City Press thanked the mayors for the briefing, but didn't spell out: for the Free UN Coalition for Access. That's because there was no mention of UNCA, the UN's Censorship Alliance.

There is no need to brand these briefing. But when it's done, FUNCA will respond, to resist favoritism for UNCA, an organization which tried and tries to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN. Just like cities and police departments, the UN too needs rules.


March 11, 2013

This week, we go arty - and angry. Downtown at the The New Museum there's a collection of art works produced in New York in the year 1993. Most are from Manhattan - the only mention of The Bronx is Pepon Osorio’s “The Scene of the Crime” -- alife-size diorama of an apartment complete with a woman’s body under a bloody cloth. Spanish radio plays ads for detergent and the chairs are draped in Puerto Rican flags. Talk about a cliche...

March 4, 2013

The Hunger Action Network NYS says “the South Bronx Congressional District represented by Congressmember Serrano continued to have the highest rate of food insecurity in the Country.” That can't be good..

February 25, 2013

Just what The Bronx needs: more clowns. “Twelve clowns on a two week international tour of the U.S. and Malaysia will stop at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore to entertain children with juggling, acrobatics and magic to cheer them up and brighten their hospital stay.” Nice...

February 18, 2013

The two toughest neighborhoods in New York City to be a kid are both in the South Bronx. “Hunts Point was ranked the toughest place for the city’s kids, with a 49 % child poverty rate and just 28% of elementary and middle school students meeting state reading standards in 2011. Mott Haven was ranked second toughest, with 99 cases of reported child abuse or neglect per 1,000 kids in 2010.”

February 11, 2013

Here's a show we support, and so to which we devote this week's update: “SEIS DEL SURDispatches from home by six Boricua photographers – at the Bronx Documentary Center” - go check it out.

February 4, 2013

From the serious to the culinary loss: Saturday saw a vigil for the one year anniversary of the shooting death of Ramarley Graham by police officer Richard Haste...

On Arthur Avenue, Umberto's Clam House is no more. No explanation given; spin from Mike's Deli. In Manhattan, Umberto's remains open. Why not in The Bronx?

January 28, 2013

Now it's been decided: slated for closure in June are • Holy Spirit School, 1940 University Ave., The Bronx;

Our Lady of Angels School, 2865 Claflin Ave., The Bronx;

Our Lady of Mercy School, 2512 Marion Ave., The Bronx;

Blessed Sacrament School, 1160 Beach Ave, The Bronx;

St. Anthony School, 1776 Mansion St., The Bronx;

St. Mary Star of the Sea School, 580 Minneford Ave., The Bronx;

St. Jerome School, 222 Alexander Ave., The Bronx.

This is an outrage - watch this site.

January 21, 2013

After the MTA's hype about Select Bus service, for example along Fordham Road in The Bronx, recently Inner City Press was told when a bus without the signature blinking blue lights rushed by the regular bus stop and to the select, that "a lawsuit means we can't use the lights anymore."

So riders can't see which bus is which, and don't have time to get the paper ticket required on the Select. Good job, MTA...

January 14, 2013

Bronxites -- and Inner City Press -- are asking Timothy Cardinal Dolan to keep the doors open at St. Jerome School, at 222 Alexander Avenue in Mott Haven. The threat is to close it in 2013; one theory is to sell off the land. Give them a chance!

January 7, 2013

Is it clean? "The Site is an irregularly-shaped parcel approximately 0.36 acre in size and is bounded on the west by Prospect Avenue and on the east by Reverend James A. Polite Boulevard. Historically, the site was utilized for automotive repair/oil change and was a former gasoline filling station. These uses resulted in contamination to soil, groundwater and soil vapor. The primary contaminants of concern were petroleum-related volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The Site is currently undergoing redevelopment activities associated with the construction of a new rental apartment building." But is it really clean?

December 31, 2012

$150 million for a 150 foot high bridge to City Island? Too high. We're against it.

December 24, 2012

Let's compare to the low number of banks: in The Bronx, McDonald’s has 44 stores, Dunkin Donuts leads with 68. Subway, up two, is now at 55...

December 17, 2012

"FreshDirect is scaling back its footprint in the South Bronx, where it plans to relocate in several years, and where it is being sued by a community group that opposes its development plan. The Long Island City-based grocer filed court papers on Thursday indicating that it would give up about three acres of land by the Harlem River that would have served as a parking facility for its fleet of delivery trucks. 'We are now going to incorporate our trucking operations into the parcel of land that will house our main facility," the company said in a statement. "This will have the benefit of addressing a number of concerns expressed by residents arising from the proximity of our trucks.'"

Not enough...

December 10, 2012

A 38-year-old construction worker from the Philippines, Michael Tristan Mananghaya was killed when a 40-foot-long industrial cooling unit fell from a crane and crushed him to death in The Bronx last week. Mananghaya was guiding the crane operator who was hoisting the air-conditioning unit at a construction site at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, when a chain that linked the massive air-conditioning unit to the crane allegedly snapped, dropping several feet, clipped the edge of a trailer and flipped onto its side on the sidewalk, pinning Mananghaya. Mananghaya’s employer C&L Towing in New Jersey, as well as Agrekko -- the air conditioning company -- are not commenting so far...

December 3, 2012

Bagel nosh: OSHA fined Bronx-based Zaro's $118,000 for whizzing machine parts weren’t covered, and a lack of locks to prevent machines from starting while workers were cleaning them, and exit doors locked or blocked -- sounds like Happy Land, but the union's being quiet...

Hurricane Sandy's impact: the New York Department of Finance Services went weeks without issuing a Weekly Bulletin of merger applications. So the Apple - Emigrant comment period must still be open, right? Especially since the Department only now acknowleged receipt of Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Law request for a copy of the application, and STILL hasn't provided it...

November 26, 2012

So when MetroNorth has "third rail" trouble, who pays the price? If you bought a vaunted "City-Pass," you got no refund in any meaningful way. From Fordham Road, they told you, you could ride north to Wakefield and then south again. But the next train north was an hour off, and no new trains were scheduled or stopped.

And still, the red "Connecticut" MetroNorth trains stops at Fordham Road, but refuse to pick up fare paying riders. Does this fall along racial lines a la disparate impact? It does. Watch this site.

November 19, 2012

On Fordham Road, "Candy's" is closed: a glimpse into its open door found a garbage strewn hall. What gives?

Ruling: New York City violated State environmental law when it built a Bronx school complex on contaminated land without making public a detailed long-term monitoring plan before construction, the state’s Court of Appeals has ruled, against the City’s Education Department and School Construction Authority. If the city wants to build a school on a polluted site, state law requires it to present in-depth remediation and monitoring plans to the public during the initial environmental review process....

November 12, 2012

  Who knew that the Bruckner Bar & Grill had 23 employees? Until Super Storm Sandy hit, that is... See also, At UN as Ban Takes States' Questions on Sandy Email Failures, Press Ordered Out

November 5, 2012

So Tony's Pier is no more. What a view, from the parking lot. What smelts. Johnny's Reef remains... See, As Sandy Silences UN Worldwide, Bloomberg Chats with Geithner, Disses Bronx

October 29, 2012

Bronx redlined: BankUnited in Florida has applied to open four branches in New York: three in the most affluent parts of Manhattan, and one in suburban Suffolk County. Not only is this redlining, it also jumps the gun: due to a non-compete clause and settlement, the branches couldn't even be opened until February of 2013. Inner City Press has commented - receipt confirmed - asking for the applications to be suspended or withdrawn pending among other things a review Florida NCRC members have requested. We'll have more on this.

October 22, 2012

So Metro-North is pitching its "Penn Station Access environmental assessment," including four proposed stations in Morris Park, Co-op City, Hunts Point and Parkchester to provide connections to Penn Station, Westchester & Connecticut...

October 15, 2012

Apple Bank is seeking to acquire nearly all the branches of Emigrant Savings Bank in New York. When ICP comments were submitted to the New York State Financial Services Department as well as the FDIC, only the FDIC has so far responded.

The comment noted that in the NYC Metropolitan Statistical Area, Apple in 2011 made 13 conventional home purchase loans to whites, and NONE to either African Americans or Latinos.

Apple collects deposits in, for example, the South Bronx -- but look at its lending record. It should not on this record be allowed to acquire Emigrant's deposits and similarly redline with them.

For refinance loans in the NYC MSA in 2011, Apple made 27 loans to whites, only one to an African American applicant (while denying another), and NONE to Latinos.

Apple's "Chairman, President and CEO" Alan Shamoon, despite his bank's lack of visibility and weak community lending record, submitted a short response under his own signature, calling the mortgage lending analysis "disparagement" and "devoid of substance," to be "dismissed." Takes one to know one. Watch this site.

October 8, 2012

So, "the mean age of pending felonies in the Bronx was 408 days, compared to only 237 days for Manhattan." Is that fair? Will the court's un-merger fix it?

We covered Mayor Bloomberg at the UN last week, click here http://www.innercitypress.com/nyc1bloomdg100212.html

October 1, 2012

Slated for October 10 in the NYC City Council are hearings on Bronx-relevant

· Intro 799 concerning the unlawful searches that those subjected to stop-and-frisk often experience;

· Intro 800 concerning profiling by the NYPD, expanding protections against profiling based on age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, housing status, language and disability, in addition to race, religion or ethnicity; and

· Intro 801 that requires NYPD officers to identify themselves and explain their actions.

Seems simple enough, no?

September 24, 2012

So Occupy Wall Street did celebrate its first birthday or anniversary in lower Manhattan, and Inner City Press was there -- click here.

September 17, 2012

It was good to see Occupty back in the streets on September 15, see Inner City Press story here, and video here.

September 10, 2012

The killing of Reynaldo Cuevas just outside the Franklin Avenue bodega where he worked deserves a full investigation...

September 3, 2012

Quoth El Raven: Edgar Allan Poe, who lived unhappily in Kingsbridge and what is now Fordham University, will be the topic September 8, 7:30pm–9:30pm at the Bronx Documentary Center near Inner City Press' old stomping grounds, 614 Courtlandt Avenue (ICP was 680). There'll be music by drummer Bobby Sanabria & Quarteto Aché. Nunca mas, nunca mas!

August 27, 2012

Seems The Bronx has the least free wi-fi in NYC, despite needing it the most, with only Hunts Point Riverside Park, the north playground of Joyce Kilmer Park, and Devoe Park on West Fordham Road and University Avenue. What about Crotona Park?

August 20, 2012

  The absurdity of using government subsidy, especially at this time, for a Trump golf course in the Bronx hasn't yet been enough to stop it. Yet.

Meanwhile the New York State Department of Financial Services quickly filed and settled charges against Standard Chartered Bank for laundering money for Iran to evade sanctions against that country, the same NYSDFS has been remiss in its more local duties.

  A major New York bank franchise, Emigrant Bank, is up for sale to Apple Bank for Savings, but the NYSDFS appears asleep at the switch. The NYSDFS is rubbing stamping mergers and branch closings, and not responding to comments from the public.

  On August 6, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch submitted a timely challenge to the NYSDFS against a pre-merger branch closing by Emigrant. While not responding, the NYSDFS then provided notice of a merger application filed August 8, saying the comment period expired August 6 - click here to view.

 The NYSDFS has not explained this either. Can you say Kafka?

August 13, 2012

Now there is a call on the City's DOT to begin the formal public input process regarding the scheduled construction of the new City Island Bridge, slated for next year, through ULURP as soon as possible. The bridge construction is required to undergo a ULURP review through the Department of City Planning, as stated in the DOT’s own document released in March 2007. See, http://on.nyc.gov/PztDzh

August 6, 2012

Be there: South Bronx residents will receive information about their legal rights during police encounters and document police misconduct and to pass the Community Safety Act, which would ban discriminatory profiling by the NYPD; protect New Yorkers against unlawful searches; require officers to identify and explain themselves to the public; and establish an NYPD Inspector General Office.

Monday, August 6th, 6 PM at Hostos Community College, Savoy Multipurpose Room, 120 Walton Avenue, 2nd Floor

And right by there is a billboard: you are allowed to film the police. And what about Tony Baloney?

July 30, 2012

Check it out: the NYC Districting Commission will hold a public hearing in The Bronx on August 23, 2012. These hearings are open to the public. The purpose of these hearings is for the NYC Districting Commission to hear testimony from the public concerning the initial phases of its work in drafting a new districting plan for the New York City Council. BRONX: Thursday, August 23rd, 5PM-9PM, Hostos Community College, Savoy D Building, 120 E.149th Street, Bronx, NY 10451
  
  So if Metro North's machines are broken and the lines absurdly long and you get on the train from Grand Central to Fordham (or the other way around), they over-charge you to the tune of TWELVE DOLLARS for the ride...

July 23, 2012

On July 18, there was this: "Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, Health Commissioner Tom Farley, and Human Resources Administration Commissioner Robert Doar announce new anti-obesity initiatives, C-Town, 668 Crescent Ave., Bronx." Much needed there, with the Polaroids of shoplifters..

July 16, 2012

The New York Times really feels for The Bronx:

"The Bronx’s inability to catch up with the rest of the city’s phenomenal economic growth has been disconcerting. In the early 1970s, the Bronx and Brooklyn had similar average household incomes. Since then, though, the gap has grown significantly. The average Brooklyn resident is now around 23 percent richer than the average Bronxite; people in Queens are roughly 32 percent richer. (Manhattan residents are 265 percent wealthier; Staten Island residents, by the way, are 55 percent richer.)"

The thing is, usually what the New York Times suggests is increased gentrification.... And so: crocodile tears.

July 9, 2012

Talk about sleazy: Queens-based Triangle Equities has defaulted on its deal to build two buildings with retail space, office space, a supermarket and a school on city-owned lots in the Hub shopping district. Triangle was supposed to close on the parcels in May but didn't. Now Triangle is demanding public subsidies and wants the administration to slash the price of the property from $6.2 million to $2.2 million, allegedly because a charter school slated for one of the buildings backed out. Yeah, right.

July 2, 2012

The Bronx District Attorney's Office last week tried to shift the focus from Bronx ticket fixing beyond, saying it has had discussions with four DAs and two US attorneys about "questionable conduct" uncovered during a two-year investigation, though nothing matched the level of the abuse alleged in the Bronx. "During the course of our investigation, we became aware of questionable conduct by officers from seven other police agencies," spokesman Steven Reed said-in-a-statement. The probe so far has resulted in 22 indictments—including five of civilians—for more than 1,600 crimes. The Bronx District Attorney's Office says it has a list of 500 officers across the city accused of ticket fixing, and many are likely to face departmental charges. And it started in The Bronx!

June 25, 2012

Metro North, especially its Connecticut line, is still discriminating against The Bronx. On June 23, even with a City Ticket, Bronxites were not allowed on the red Connecticut train on its route into Grand Central from Fordham Road. Two tier system.

We note and support the fight of the tenants at 1511-1521 Sheridan Avenue against their slumlord, Normandy Real Estate Partners...

June 18, 2012

South Bronx residents filed suit last week to stop Fresh Direct's relocation from Long Island City to the Harlem River Yards. The suit asks for a full environmental review of the project, which critics say would add thousands of diesel truck and car trips to an already over-polluted community. "It's not about do we want jobs or don't we want jobs. It's about if you're going to do something like this in the South Bronx, if you're going to bring in a pollution, potentially pollution-intensive project. You got to study it," said NYLPI.

June 11, 2012

That MetroNorth conductors reacted to being exposed reading the newspaper while driving the train by covering up their windows is typical. This is the rail line that stops to let suburbanites OFF at Fordham Road, but does not allow those there, disproportionately riders of color, to get on the train, even with tickets. For shame....

June 4, 2012

In the Bronx, the National Labor Relations Board has now set June 28th as the election date for 172 Cablevision technicians. Back in January, 282 Brooklyn technicians became the first Cablevision technicians to join a union...

May 29, 2012

"Tenants from Patterson Houses and Mott Haven Houses began organizing last year, and met with Assistant Commissioner Lopez in December to ask for help, but no repair work has been done and the Commissioner has failed to respond to any correspondence. In February, NYCHA received $10 million from the City Council for repairs to be made in 2013, but tenants say they can’t afford to wait. Recent news that NYCHA commissioned a $10 million report that it refuses to make public have raised new concerns about the agency’s priorities and transparency."

May 21, 2012

Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch was asked by the NYC Responsible Banking act:

The growing movement to local Community Reinvestment ordinances is a response to the Federal regulators' lack of commitment to enforcing the CRA of 1977. Also, that law is enforced if at all only in connection with bank mergers, of which there have been many fewer since the subprime financial meltdown. So activists have had to look elsewhere.

Whether municipal authorities will ever have enough independence from corporate interests to bar a major bank from business with the city remains to be seen.

Cleveland, for example, has been seeking its own agreements with banks for some years. But one of its two major banks was acquired and moved its headquarters away. As with CRA challenges, there will be a need for activists in different cities to work together.

May 14, 2012

In an echo of the critique of the Harlem River Rail Yards sweet heart 99 year lease by Inner City Press and others, now two months after the City approved $82 million in subsidies for the company to move to the South Bronx, the Cuomo administration has been asked to halt the deal. The city, state and the Bronx have already committed about $120 million to FD but the Empire State Development Corp. has yet to approve an additional $9 million. It expects to vote on the grant this summer. When Harlem River Yard Ventures leased the site from the state DOT in 1991, the company vowed to develop a new rail system that would reduce local truck traffic. But it has signed subleases with heavy truck users such as FedEx, the New York Post and now FreshDirect. It collects about $500,000 per month from its subleases but pays just $43,000 per month in rent to the state. The city Industrial Development Agency relied on an outdated environment impact statement when it judged the FreshDirect plan. The 1993 statement was put together before rezonings that generated new housing and made the neighborhood less suitable for industry.

Hey - we told ya so...

May 7, 2012:

  So what's wrong with the NYS Department of Financial Services? Why did they have a (much) shorted comment period that the FDIC on New York Community Bank's proposal to acquire over $2 billion from Lehman Brothers' predatory Aurora Bank? And why, when the FDIC replied formally to ICP on May 2, has the NYSDFS still had nothing to say?

On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and its members and affiliates (collectively, "ICP"), this is a comment opposing and requesting public hearings on the application by New York Community Bank to acquire substantially all of the assets, and $2.3 billion of deposits of Aurora Bank FSB.

Aurora is a subprime, some say predatory, lending unit of the scandal wracked Lehman Brothers. For the record:

"Aurora had become one of the largest players in that market, originating $25-billion worth of loans in 2006. It was also the biggest supplier of loans to Lehman for securitization. Lehman had acquired a stake in Aurora in 1998 and had taken control in 2003. By May, 2006, some people inside Lehman were becoming worried about Aurora's lending practices."

NYCB is a bank which has sought to fly under the radar -- for example, a recent search of the FFIEC HMDA data back for "New York Community Bank" reveals only one HMDA reporter, 0000016022-3, reporting geography specific data in only three MSAs.

In these MSA, NYCB is decidedly disparate in its marketing and lending.

In the Phoenix MSA in 2010, the most recent year for which data is publicly available, NYCB made 292 conventional home purchase loans to whites and NO such loans to African Americans. Based on its disparate marketing, NYCB received only four such applications from African Americans, and denied three of them. To Latinos, NYCB more only 14 such loans, compared to the 292 to whites.

In the Fort Lauderdale MSA in 2010, NYCB made 38 conventional home purchase loans to whites, and NO such loans to African Americans.

In the West Palm Beach MSA in 2010, NYCB made 83 refinance loans to whites and only ONE such loan to an African American applicant, and only seven to Latinos.

The NYSDFS should require answers, extend the comment period and hold public hearings.

April 30, 2012

Where the van fell into the Bronx Zoo on Sunday was the same place five people died in 2006. And it was NYC's deadliest vehicle crash since March 2011, when 14 died after a "Chinatown bus" coming back from Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino split in two on Interstate 95 in the Bronx. So what is it about the Bronx, including the Happy Land?

April 23, 2012

This is too much: Police are investigating the death of a 16-year-old boy who was found with trauma to the face at Melrose Houses in the Bronx. Officers responded to a report of an assault last Monday night and found Moises Lora with facial wounds. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Sources say there was an argument between Lora and group of people that escalated into a fight. They say the group surrounded Lora and hit him on the head, causing him to collapse.

Hit him on the head with what? Where ARE we? Well, could be Koreatown, too: a man 27 years of age died last week after being found bleeding from the mouth beside a second-floor entrance inside District 36 on West 36th Street near Fifth Avenue around 3 a.m. The victim's teeth had been knocked out, causing the bleeding. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he died over an hour later...

April 16, 2012

In a South Bronx gentrification we predict the New York Times will soon mimic, a restaurant called Ceetay will begin serving "Asian fusion" on Alexander Avenue in Port Morris. Over on Bruckner Blfd, the Clock Café and Martini Bar opened a montn ago and now serves up cheese plates and tapas, alongside cucumber-mint martinis and grapefruit margaritas. Yep, gentrification...

April 9, 2012

Belatedly there is coverage of the police killing of Ramarley Graham in February in the Bronx, followed by protests at the 47th precinct. We'll have more on this.

April 2, 2012: In the first study of the just-released 2011 mortgage lending data, Inner City Press and Bronx-based Fair Finance Watch have found that Citigroup continued with high cost loans and disparities by race and ethnicity in denials and higher-cost lending.

2011 is the eighth year in which the data distinguishes which loans are higher cost, over a federally-defined rate spread of 1.5 percent over Treasury bill yields.

Citigroup confined African Americans to higher-cost loans above this rate spread 3.38 times more frequently than whites in 2011; Citi confined Latinos to higher-cost loans above the rate spread 2.42 times more frequently than whites in 2011, worse that its 1.72 disparity in 2009, the data show. For JPMorgan Chase, the disparity for African Americans in 2011 was 2.21....

March 26, 2012

This we like to see: Bronx Foreclosure Auction Blockade, Fountain in Joyce Kilmer Park, Monday, March 26, 12:30pm - Occupy Homes and Organizing for Occupation sing in a moratorium on foreclosures. Bronx Supreme Civil Court at 2pm...

March 19, 2012

Police Push Occupy Wall Street Out of Zuccotti Park Again, American Spring?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 -- When Occupy Wall Street rallied Saturday night in Zuccotti Park, police began to assemble on Broadway and Liberty Street. In the part, a small green tent went up, no more than a tarp hung on a line between two trees.

  There was chants about an "American Spring," and against banks: "hit the road, banks, and don't ya come back no more." Then the police moved in.

  First they surged in from Broadway, pushing the crowd back. Some were arrested and pulled up to Broadway where a paddy wagon was filled.

  To the south of the park, a march arrived with a band playing Irish music on bagpipes, on this St. Patrick's Day.  The police shut that down too. An MTA bus showed up, "Not in Service," to be filled with other arrestees. From inside an arrested tweeted there were 16 others; it was Bus Number 6694.

 A woman flopped on the sidewalk; people said she had a seizure. Photos on www.twitter.com/innercitypress; video here and below. 

While the crowd was focused on that, police and security from Brookfield Properties, the owner of the prviate public public, rushed in with metal barricades to close off the park again. Meanwhile more NYPD vehicles showed up.

  As Inner City Press sought information about the woman with the seizure, a three wheel police scooter drove up fast and did not stop. It was Vehicle Number 3530, in from the 78th Precinct.

   Soon a wall of police was pushing the crowd south on Broadway to Thames Street. The police pushed, and some people fell down. But the police kept pushing foward.

  Who ordered this crackdown, several in the crowd asked. There was some ugly back and forth. Buzz went through the crowd of more arrests, further north, and a march set off. American Spring? One hopes the focus remains on the banks, which continue to get over. We'll see.
 
  Meanwhile in The Bronx, Bloomberg appeared with Roberto of Roberto's, at his pizzeria on Arthur Avenue: for shame.


March 12, 2012

Subsidized gentrification? At Via Verde on Brook and 156 Street, apartment are going for $146,000 and sales are being handled in-house, "income restrictions vary from $54,000 to $145,000." This is in the South Bronx...

March 5, 2012

This went in to court, ostensibly on behalf of "all 1.4 million residents of the Bronx" --

Judge Roann L. Mann
United States District Court
Eastern District of New York
22 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 1 1201

Dear Judge Mann:

This letter is to alert you to our concerns, and the concerns of all 1.4 million residents of the Bronx, regarding any proposed Congressional redistricting proposal that would dilute the Bronx’s representation in the United States Congress.

As per the 2010 Census, the Bronx has seen significant growth in its population, especially among our Black and Latino populations. Given that, it would be appropriate-if not expected- that the Bronx would see its representation in the United States Congress expanded, rather than diminished.

However, various discussions on new Congressional lines have focused on carving up the Bronx into multiple smaller pieces, in order to benefit the political leadership of any other county.

Over the past few years, the elected leadership of the Bronx has been united as never before, and we remain united on the issue of redistricting. lt is unacceptable that the population of the Bronx would be potentially split among two new districts in an effort to make up for population losses among Voting Rights Act affected communities in other counties.

With that in rnind, our current Voting Rights Act district, represented by Rep. Jose Serrano, must be respected and remain wholly within the Bronx. In addition, both Rep. Serrano and Rep. Eliot Engel are lifelong Bronxites who have represented parts of our borough for their entire careers. If the Bronx were to lose their collective seniority in Washington-and the clout that comes with would do our borough tremendous harm.

Pero que dice Willy Colon?

February 27, 2012

In the Bronx, signs of the times: just as the Wodka vodka sign in Hunts Points -- "escort quality, hooker pricing" -- is coming this, there's this one going up: "Storage Post recently erected a massive LED digital billboard at their facility in the Bronx. The sign measures eleven and-a-half feet high by seventeen and-a-half long. It is capable of 144 quadrillion colors and has a brightness of 8,400 nits. That’s a lot of color and light! (A nit is a measure of light -- or luminance -- emitted per unit area. Computer desktop monitors have a luminance of 200 to 300. This sign is over 20 times brighter than a typical monitor.) The display animation can easily be changed to show a variety of messages, monthly specials, and animations." What kind of pricing?

February 20, 2012

Just another Friday in the Bronx: baby stabbed with a pen, man shot, both to Lincoln Hospital -- while Yemen's dictator Ali Saleh, ostensibly let into the US only for medical care, chilled at the Ritz Carlton down on Central Park South.

February 13, 2012

So the lawyers for Jateik Reed, beaten by police, have told the Bronx DA's office he won't sign an agreement requiring him to give sworn statements about the charges against him (reportedly the DA is refusing to conduct an investigation into police brutality allegations unless Reed signs this agreement.) Here's why Reed's attorney, Gideon Oliver, is advising Reed not to cooperate:

The DA explained to the court that they wanted our client to sign an excessive force investigation agreement which, among other things, would require Reed to give a sworn and recorded statement on the crimes with which he is charged and the allegations of excessive force. It would also require him to testify in front of a grand jury and waive physician-patient privilege.

But given the fact that the DA is prosecuting Jateik—and, more importantly, the symbiotic relationship between the DA and police department—we do not believe the DA is capable of conducting a fair and honest investigation. And it would be irresponsible for me to advise a client to provide several sets of sworn and recorded statements while he has criminal charges pending.

Seems obvious, right? But not apparently in The Bronx. The Bronx DA's office says, 'We believe that at the end of the day, they will be comfortable with our ability to fairly handle this matter." We'll see -- watch this site.

February 6, 2012

This is much belated fight back - 13 years after Amadou was shot down in Soundview, protesters take, how ever temporarily, 149th and Third Avenue. Video here

January 30, 2012

The NY Police Department conducted 451,000 warrantless stops during the first three quarters of 2011, per a November report in November by the New York Civil Liberties Union. And so, a protest on Friday at the 42nd precinct. According to the report, eighty five percent of people stopped were African American or Latino; 88% of stops did not result in arrests or tickets. For shame...

January 23, 2012

So they asked the Bronx Brewery why they opened in The Bronx, and were told:

"We chose the South Bronx for a few reasons: It has an abundance of warehouse space for a good price; it’s perfect for distribution, allowing easy access to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, and New Jersey; it’s an easy commute for people coming from other parts of the city; [and] we love the energy of the area and are excited to be part of a community focused on revitalization!"

Could have noted the South Bronx' history with beer, for example the Ebling and other breweries. The one front on St. Ann's Avenue at 156th Street, until it was demolished, still had a dark and fertile basement, in which mushrooms were grown during Prohibition. Car scavengers took it over in the 90s; then absent a landmark status it was demolished...

South Bronx clean up of

"The site lies on the Hunts Point peninsula in the South Bronx. It was the former location of the Con Edison Hunts Point Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP), also known as the Hunts Point Coking Station. The initial coke oven plant at the facility was constructed over the period from 1924 through 1926 and had a capacity of 20 million cubic feet of gas per day. The gas produced was used as a primary source of energy for lighting and heating. Another battery of coke ovens was installed in 1931, increasing gas production capacity by 10 million cubic feet per day. The MGP included 46 buildings or structures and was devoted entirely to the manufacture of gas and its associated by- products, including coal tars, cyanide-contaminated purifier waste, sludge, and oils. The structures included two gas holders. The MGP operated into the 1950s."

January 16, 2012

  It was only last month we received a notice from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (“NYSDEC”) Brownfield Cleanup Program (“BCP”), specifically about its draft Final Engineering Report (FER) for the remedial actions performed at the 1800 Southern Boulevard Site....The Site is currently being developed with a new ten (10) story mixed-use building that will provide affordable housing to 68 moderate income households, as well as 12,579 square feet of commercial space and 4,922 square feet of community facility space. Historically the Site has been used as a filling station, auto repair facility and car wash beginning sometime between 1927 and 1940. The car wash operation closed in 1993 and the service station closed in 2003. BP-Amoco was operating the station at the time of closure in 2003.Removal of (17) 550-gallon underground storage tanks

Unstated was that this is where the gas was bought for the Happy Land Social Club mass murder... And now, dated January 13, comes a DEC announcement "that cleanup requirements have been achieved to address contamination related to the 1800 Southern Boulevard Site #C203046 (Bronx), under New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program." That was fast... 

January 9, 2012

  For comment by February 3: "The Former Nessen Lamps Site is located at 3200 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. It is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Jerome Avenue and Van Cortlandt Avenue East. The site is identified as Block 3323, Lot 36 on the Bronx County Tax Map. Site Features: The site consists of a triangular-shaped, approximately 11,500-square foot property that is fully occupied by an approximately 18,200 sf, 2-story building. The building is currently vacant. Current Zoning: The site is currently zoned C8-2 (commercial district). Until summer of 2011, the building had been occupied by PS 51X (The Bronx New School), an elementary school serving Kindergarten through 5th grade. Until that time the site had been leased by the New York City School Construction Authority for the school since 1993. Historical Uses: Historical uses included automotive-related usage as a garage between 1928 and 1956, and for manufacturing between 1957 and 1988, including a Nessen Lamps Inc. factory from 1971 through 1988. Four 550-gallon buried gasoline tanks noted at the site between 1945 and 1992 prior to its use as a school. The site was also a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Non-Generator for the generation of unknown wastes between 1982 and 1987. Site Geology and Hydrogeology: Bedrock is approximately 20 feet below grade in the vicinity of the site and consists of pre-Cambrian rocks. Groundwater is approximately 12 to 16 feet below grade and is expected to flow in a westerly direction towards Jerome Park Resevoir."

  Annals of the Bronx: 17 year old shoots 11 year old through the door of his apartment: "Kijana Jenkins, 17, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, assault, and reckless endangerment. Police officials say he made statements incriminating himself. Sources say the boy was playing video games in his apartment on Creston Avenue in Fordham Thursday night when he heard the doorbell ring. When he went to answer it, he was shot through the door. The boy does not appear to have been the intended target."

January 2, 2012

Before Rutgers beat Iowa State on December 30 at the Bronx' Yankee Stadium, Iowa State players were lounging around the Sheraton Hotel down on 53rd Street, while union 32BJ was nearing the tentative contract which averted a strike. It was less than dramatic there: a promised December 28 demonstration was small, and van transportation related to the football game for elderly and youth was canceled. Manhattan, meanwhile, was chock a block with tourists, a real Bloomberg New York...

December 26, 2011

Wiener of the week: Jonathan Wiener of Chestnut Holdings, slumlord of 1520 Sheridan Ave: no cooking gas from August...

Echoes of the Congo: the City Board of Election was told of a potential voting system problem on October 6, 2011 (and the State Board on October 7), urging that the problem should be investigated before the machines used at P.S. 65 in the Bronx in 2010 were used again. But neither the City nor the State has indicated these machines would not be used again: for shame....

December 19, 2011

RIP, Books in the Hood: "LaVerne Harris opened it at 815 Westchester Avenues in Longwood in February 2007.. [she] worked overtime to pay the store's $2,500 a month rent. Then she retired in June 2010, with the business making only $900 a month." And now, RIP...

After Arrests, OWS Testifies in Times Square, B of A, Occupy Won't Go Away

By Matthew Russell Lee

TIMES SQUARE, December 16 -- After dozens of arrests in Duarte Square followed by a march north shadowed by police, Occupy Wall Street descended on Times Square again, chanting and testifying in a sea of tourists.

  "Christmas is canceled!" a marcher yelled into the crowd. "Bloomberg arrested Santa Claus!"

  The march stalled on 44th Street, with police on horses on either side. Where to go next? One long time Occupier complained to Inner City Press, "I came to occupy Wall Street, not entertain tourists." A decision was taken to proceed north to the red staircase.

  There testimonials through the people's mic began, each starting with "I occupy because." There was a surfeit of idealism: occupying for starving children overseas and in the United States, for unborn children, for Egyptians blinded by pepper spray made in Pennsylvania.

  A woman said she'd come from unemployed Spain to occupy Wall Street, where the global problem started. As she spoke a passing tourist shouted, "Get a job!"

  They were parallel universes. Speaker after speaker denounced the neon advertisements towering above them. "This is no beauty," said one. "I hate light pollution said another," from Buffalo by way of Oregon.

 photos at www.twitter.com/innercitypress

  Finally things turned back to financial institutions. A chant begna, "Morgan Stanley, B of A, Occupy won't go away." Here's hoping. Watch this site.


December 12, 2011

The crackdown on Occupy Wall Street extended to The Bronx, during the relatively small protest to re-open the closed down garden by 149th Street and Third Avenue. The police deployed there were not, of course, fighting the actual crime in The Bronx...

December 5, 2011

When we saw the Jennifer Lopez' Fiat ad wasn't even filmed in The Bronx, it seemed like typical exploitation. Then came the complaint by, and settlement with, Tats Cru, for use of a graffiti mural that's copyrighted. One quibble: it is really a copyright case, or the use for commercial gain?

Last week we received a notice from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (“NYSDEC”) Brownfield Cleanup Program (“BCP”), specifically about its draft Final Engineering Report (FER) for the remedial actions performed at the 1800 Southern Boulevard Site....The Site is currently being developed with a new ten (10) story mixed-use building that will provide affordable housing to 68 moderate income households, as well as 12,579 square feet of commercial space and 4,922 square feet of community facility space. Historically the Site has been used as a filling station, auto repair facility and car wash beginning sometime between 1927 and 1940. The car wash operation closed in 1993 and the service station closed in 2003. BP-Amoco was operating the station at the time of closure in 2003.

Removal of (17) 550-gallon underground storage tanks; and

Unstated: this is where the gas was bought for the Happy Land Social Club mass murder...

November 28, 2011

Protests have begun in The Bronx, where 17 of the 29 New York City post offices that are being considered for closure are. The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires the post office to make payments toward its employees future health benefits for 10 years, until 2017. The non-profit Congressional Research Service determined in 2009 that the payments were costing the postal service roughly $5 billion per year and are having a “considerable” impact on the post office’s profitability. And now this...


Even on Thanksgiving, Police Threaten Arrest at Occupy Wall Street, Egypt Protest

By Matthew Russell Lee

LOWER MANHATTAN, November 24, updated with video -- As Occupy Wall Street celebrated Thanksgiving amid guitars and turkey dinners, police arrived and threatened arrests for criminal trespass due to noise.  Video here

  Some called it cliche and other, "police state," as drumming was brought to a close. The drummers consented -- "just for today," one said -- and other protests were announced, including at the Egyptian embassy in support of those protesting in Tahrir Square.

   In the crowd was "White Hat," who earlier in the week proposed canceling the Occupy Wall Street observation mission to Cairo and returning the $29,000 allocated to the General Assembly. As reported by Inner City Press, that proposal failed. But the mission has not gone.

Now another stop might be Sana'a in Yemen, where democracy and accountability activists are being shot for opposing the immunity deal given to strongman Ali Saleh, in a deal crafted by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia and the Obama administration behind them. Click here for Inner City Press' story on the deal.

#OccupyThanksgiving, Nov 24, 2011 (c) MRLee

  After the standoff on Thanksgiving, under the watchful panopticon eye of the NY Police Department watchtower over Liberty Square, many in the crowd suggested celebrating in peace. Occu-Pumpkin-Pie, one of them called out. Marching on the banks will have to wait another day. Watch this site.

Footnote: also in the crowd was former Philadelphia police department Captain Ray Lewis, in uniform, who told the Press that NYPD "white shirts" should not be involved in tussles with protesters, and that the tear gassing of a sit-in at University of California - Davis was indicative of mismanagement. He got a good reception.

November 21, 2011

At the Occupy Wall Street (in exile) General Assembly in Brooklyn on October 17, a report was given on the Bronx contingent, 50 people on the Grand Concourse then on the subway. C'mon Bronx, we can do better!

November 14, 2011

Now the Bronx stands to lose Cibao Meat Products and its factory and more than 50 jobs on St. Ann's Ave. Without responsiveness in The Bronx, despite all the talk of economic development, it plans a factory in Paterson, N.J. "We would like to stay in the Bronx because all the people who work for us are from the neighborhood... We need to find a new location because we want to go into distribution and we need more space," said Julio Isidor, Cibao general manager. "We are looking at Newark as well as Paterson." Ah, the Bronx...

November 7, 2011

Either way it's unacceptable: 59-year-old Bengali "Bimal Chanda died Wednesday from severe injuries he sustained during an assault in his apartment building at 30 W. 190th St. in the Fordham section of the Bronx last Saturday... Police say they have no reason to believe it's a hate crime, but Chanda's widow wonders why two people would beat her husband so savagely and still leave his wallet filled with credit cards and $90 in cash intact. 'I've been hearing things, from other family, friends and relatives, other Bengali people, they've been getting mugged on a daily basis, and it's really not acceptable,' said one family member." It is important that the family's claims be investigated.

October 31, 2011

Just get it done: it's time for Amtrak and the state Department of Transportation to resolve a problem related to the Bronx River. They've bickered for years over a segment of the Bronx River Greenway, a new walking and bicycling route that must cross an Amtrak rail line. The Obama administration has yet to commit funds to the restoration of the Bronx River... Click here for this week's Occupy Wall Street coverage.

October 24, 2011

Regarding an increase in shootings in NYC, a police source is quoted that "normally the task force is used in high-crime neighborhoods where you have a lot of shootings and robberies. But instead of being sent to Jamaica, Brownsville and the South Bronx, they are in Wall Street." Don't blame this on Occupy Wall Street -- mostly days, there is no rationale at all for the number of police lazing around down there. See this week's Inner City Press Bank Beat report for story of the October 22 General Assembly, upcoming "trial" of Goldman Sachs.

October 17, 2011

At Occupy Wall Street in Washington Square Park on October 15, there were Bronx doctors talking, with mic check, about health care being a human right. It was good to see --

In Times Square, Riot Police Deploy Horses Against Occupy Wall Street Protest

By Matthew Russell Lee

TIMES SQUARE, October 15 -- When the Occupy Wall Street protesters came to Times Square on Saturday, the police confined them to pens on both sides of the street then paraded those arrested down the broad "perp-walk" in the middle.

  While some of the protesters still insisted that not only "we are the 99 percent" but also "so are you," others booed the police, saying "they'll take your pension too."

  Police horses were deployed. Inner City Press witnessed one police horse being hit by a taxi, leading the crowd to blame the police for using horses for no reason. Up on 46th Street the horses remained stationed, along with riot police in helmets with visors.

  A chant went up, "Who are you protecting?" There was also invective directed at Ray Kelly, the Police Commissioner who would be mayor.

   Similarly, while cheers went up when those atop tourist busses gave a thumbs up, a number of stretch limousines were booed, with called of "there goes the one percent." But maybe it's a wedding, or a prom.

On 47th Street, however, the police were letting tourists through the barricades but not New Yorkers, including the Press.  Video here. And later when questioned why, they threatened to arrest Inner City Press.

Via Twitter a call went out for a General Assembly in Washington Square Park downtown at 9 pm.   And down at the arch in Washington Square Park, more police were massed.

 As the wind picked up and the weather got colder, some wondered where this was all headed. Others spoke of tents and sleeping bags, even shelters being constructed in Zuccotti Park where the police have yet to enter.


October 10, 2011

Typical -- the New York Times tours Amanda Burden around Melrose Commons preaching the benefits of gentrification, leading to this gushing letter to the Times:

"I'm extremely encouraged by Mayor Bloomberg's vision and Amanda Burden's efforts in building a better South Bronx. In 2007, I moved to Mott Haven from Greenwich, CT (two polar opposite communities) and restored a brownstone. The South Bronx has definitely changed for the better, but I’m often discouraged by the filth. Most dog owners are irresponsible and don't pick up after their dogs, sidewalks and parking lots (including the 40th precinct police parking lot!) are strewn with litter (and dog feces), illegal dumping is prevalent and graffiti is tolerated. The sanitation department does an amazing job, but the apathy and sheer lack of pride by many of the residents hampers their efforts. Now it's up to the inhabitants to "build" a sense of pride in their revitalized neighborhood and community - keep it clean and graffiti free!"

This is, to put it mildly, not a common view in the South Bronx. But it's what the New York Times prints....

September 26, 2011

Beyond historic concerns about the digital divide in the South Bronx and areas like it, now the concern is profiling: a name "associated with “Need Cash” generated ads for 'Selling Your Settlement' on the Upper West Side while associated ads with her name generated only payday lending and similar options in the South Bronx." Do algorithm generated ad differ by geography? It seems they do. We'll have more on this.

September 19, 2011

Conflux of The Bronx and UN, from the White House September 15 briefing (and UN this week) --

Q Congressman Eliot Engel said that President Obama has a problem with Jewish voters in his Bronx, New York district. Why do you think -- or why does the administration think there's a perception problem?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would disagree with that. I don't know about the congressman's district itself. I think as recently as last week or the week before, the Prime Minister of Israel made an incredibly strong statement about the remarkable commitment, unshakeable commitment, that this President has to Israel's security, and the unprecedented assistance that this President has provided Israel. Both -- he has said this when I was with the Vice President in Israel and visiting with the Prime Minister, with regards to our overall -- this administration's overall efforts and commitment to Israeli security, and he said it again just in recent days with regard to President Obama's specific assistance to the Prime Minister of late.

So this President's absolute commitment to Israel's security is, I think, demonstrated and unshakeable. The fact is that he is committed to the process of trying to get the two parties to negotiate, get the two parties to go back to direct talks, because he believes it's in the interest of Israel and in the interests of the Palestinian people for them to reach peace in a way that ensures Israel's security and allows them to resolve their issues. That, in the end, will ensure that the Jewish state of Israel survives and prospers.

Q Is the administration concerned that you've let it get to this point, that we're on the cusp of UNGA and they may be facing a statehood vote?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we've been talking about this off and on for weeks and months that -- if this problem were not complex and difficult it would have been solved a long time ago. Many administrations have made significant efforts to deal with it. And we are completely focused on it, committed to it. And we are convinced that the only way that Israelis and Palestinians can reach the goal that they share is through direct negotiations. So we will keep on that.

We'll have more from the UN this week, on www.InnerCityPress.com

September 12, 2011

Among commenters SUPPORTING Capital One - ING Direct are groups in New York City, some purporting to serve The Bronx. We'll have more on this.

September 5, 2011

A little Bronx history: while Kosovar Albanians now expand, there was a time in the early 1990s when a shadowy Serbia-based group called the Black Hand patrolled Belmont, with the help of some "turncoat" Albanians from Montenegro. Have they now given up?

August 29, 2011

Amid much Hurricane Irene hype, it arose there was no plan to evacuate Rikers Island. Mayor Bloomberg was asked about it, and quickly replied that it is higher than the rest of "Zone A." But of course people can't move. They are just lucky...

August 22, 2011

It all started with this: five years ago, "California-based real-estate firm Milbank announced the Bronx 'one of the last boroughs to offer affordable rent, which would also be positioned to undergo significant gentrification.'" Then the carcass of the overpriced buildings was picked over by Deutsche Bank and Bank of America. Now, going forward, the fight back...

August 15, 2011

The vacant site of the former Stella D’oro factory will likely have a new owner any day now, it's reported. Current owner Brynwood Partners and purchasers Metropolitan Realty Associates, along with Angelo, Gordon and Company are set to close on the 184 W. 237th St. site this week...Where the empty factory currently stands, Metropolitan and Angelo, Gordon and Co. are planning Riverdale Crossing, a shopping center anchored by big box retailer BJ’s Wholesale Club. According to a May report by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., non-managerial workers at the Bronx Gateway Mall, which houses the South Bronx BJ’s location, pay an average starting wage of $8.80 per hour.

That's low....

August 8, 2011

How can it be that of 34 proposed Post Office closings in all of New York City, fully 17 would be in The Bronx? This is compared with only Manhattan with six, then Brooklyn and Queens with five each and Staten Island with just one. Per USPS.com the proposed Bronx closures are

HUNTS POINT BRONX 10474

MELCOURT BRONX 10451

MORRISANIA BRONX 10456

STADIUM BRONX 10452

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS BRONX 10452

WEST FARMS BRONX 10460

BOTANICAL BRONX 10458

CRANFORD BRONX 10470

FIELDSTON BRONX 10463

SPUYTEN DUYVIL BRONX 10463

VAN COTT BRONX 10467

CASTLE HILL BRONX 10462

CLASON POINT BRONX 10473

DREISER LOOP BRONX 10475

EINSTEIN BRONX 10475

ESPLANADE BRONX 10469

HILLSIDE BRONX 10469

We'll have more on this.

August 1, 2011

So just in the run-up to the weekend in The Bronx, there was a five year old shot outside a bodega in Bronxdale, and a four year old girl bitten by a pit bull on 170th and Third Avenue. What was that, about New York getting better? For whom?

July 25, 2011

The five borough comparison in the New York Post of July 24, while interesting, overfocused on the income of those employed in the private sector. Through this prism, the Bronx came out ahead of Brooklyn and even Staten Island. But viewing the more important median household income, Staten Island nearly doubles the Bronx. Why? The first prism exclude the unemployed, and public employees. Staten Island the home of New York Strongest...

July 18, 2011

Without once using the word gentrification, the Daily News reports that

As in DUMBO and Williamsburg, empty warehouses and factories are converting into affordable apartments and studios. The Clock Tower boasts two-bedroom rentals with new appliances, rooftop access and a gym for $1,850... The economic downturn hit the South Bronx art community hard, with some galleries closing recently... Mary Brimage hawks novelties from porcelain Rosenthal teacups and a $2,500 polished oak wardrobe.”

$1800 apartments? $2500 wardrobes?

July 11, 2011

From the comparison of the Congressional districts represented by Jose Serrano (NY 16) and Carolyn Maloney (NY 14), we see 10 visits by Bloomberg to the former, 42 to the latter.... And 90 Starbucks on the Upper East Side, 1 in the South Bronx. Is that what Bloomberg's looking for?

July 4, 2011

What a waste: confiscated fireworks blasted off July 1 at Rodman's Neck

Slated to close: Fulton Work Release, in front of Crotona Park...

Sleazy is as sleazy does: now the Upper East Side of Manhattan is arguing that IT is a environmental justice community, because it has a housing project:

'I have nightmares just thinking that there’s a possibility that they might come back,' said Ms. Johnson, 66, a disabled resident of the Stanley M. Isaacs Houses, at 94th Street and First Avenue. The proximity of public housing figures prominently in a battle by Upper East Side residents to derail a city plan to reactivate a waste transfer station on the East River at 91st Street. In lawsuits, rallies and lobbying in the State Legislature, they argue that economically disadvantaged residents, already struggling, should not be saddled with additional problems. 'How can you ignore the fact that the closest community is 80 percent minority?' said Anthony Ard, president of the Gracie Point Community Council, a neighborhood group that was founded to fight the plan.”

This argument is made in order to jam the waste transfer station back to the South Bronx. For shame.

June 27, 2011

From the Daily News

In a time when most public schools in the Bronx don't have a gym or auditorium and have to share diminishing space, a new charter school is bulldozing a parking lot, garage and defunct social club in the South Bronx to make way for a new building.”

Defunct?

Lighthouse's elementary school, which currently houses about 420 students, is surrounded by a mixture of charters and public schools like Banana Kelly High School on Longwood Ave., which is slated for 'restart' by the city Department of Education.”

Restart?

The red-and-gray elementary school is in bright contrast to the dull, brown apartment buildings and parking lots dotting the wide street.”

A lot of government money's been spent on “dull” buildings on Intervale Avenue....

June 20, 2011

So atattoo shop owner in Altoona, PA, sees fit to trash The Bronx:

Several business leaders in Ivyside Plaza near the Penn State Altoona Campus say they are not sorry to see the the Varsity Cafe, located at 535 E. 25th Ave., shut down this past weekend because, they say, the bath salt Blizzard was being distributed from there and was causing havoc with their businesses. Blizzard, although called a bath salt, is used as a drug by many to give the user a cocaine or methaphetamine-like high.

Robert Hecker, the owner of the tattoo company, joined Patel outside the now-closed cafe to talk about the problems of the past four or so months. He said people looking for Blizzard would come to the plaza and, not knowing exactly where to go, would end up at his tattoo shop. Hecker said he wants nothing to do with the drug scene, and he posted a sign on the door stating succinctly, "We don't sell Blizzard." He said people would get the Blizzard and come to an area near the shop where they would sniff the Blizzard or shoot it up. "We had to physically remove a couple of people," he said. He said police were called by other business people several times because of the problems. Hecker said shop owner sent emails explaining the situation to the plaza's owners, The Blair Companies. "I'm glad they are out of this place," he said of Varsity. He said the Varsity location not long ago was a good place to get sandwiches. Then it became a type of coffee shop. He said the sale of Blizzard started several months ago. "It turned into the South Bronx overnight," he said.

Thanks, tattoo man...

June 13, 2011

So the City and AT&T plan to put free wi-fi this summer in 20 parks in the five boroughs. Some thought that would by the math, 20 divided by five, mean four for The Bronx, or more given Staten Island's low population and that Bronxites might be more in need of free wireless than others.

But no - only three of the 20 NYC sites are in The Bronx. Why not Crotona Park, for example? Why indeed.

June 6, 2011

So the so-called Bronx Brewery of MIT's Chris Gallant is in fact producing its suds not in The Bronx, but with a “Connecticut contract brewer.” So it's not “Bronx pale ale” but rather “Metro North Malty.” Typical.

May 30, 2011

The US Postal Service is trying to move mail sorting out of 149th Street and Grand Concourse to Manhattan - but it is being opposed.

May 23, 2011

Tale of two 140s: amid a photo show and “VIP” session by Jonas Broncks Beer on 141st Street and Courtlandt Avenue -- we wish we'd made it there but couldn't -- the police blotter of May 19 describes a scene on nearly 144th and Third Avenue, man beating a woman while shouting “You're interfering with me making money, I'm a hustler!”

Was the woman asking him to stop selling the crack he was arrested with? Or was she just asking for her cell phone back?

May 16, 2011

Goodbye, jobs:

A.L. Bazzini Co., which makes peanuts, among other products, announced last month that it was moving its manufacturing plant from the Bronx to Pennsylvania. Other food manufacturing companies that have left the city in the past two years include Stella D'oro, hummus maker Sabra and Old London, manufacturer of Melba Toast. The Hunts Point wholesale produce market in the South Bronx is also contemplating a move to New Jersey.”

And what do our elected official have to say?

May 9, 2011

So why DID Bloomberg select the Nissan NV over the Turkish firm which proposed to build the Taxi of the Future in New York City? If it was because the Turkish firm didn't have enough experience, why were they allowed to be on of three finalists? Something doesn't smell right -- and the selection process has been sued...

May 2, 2011

Now the Wall Street Journal joins the New York Times in bemoaning the slow down of gentrification in the South Bronx:

The dynamics that initially inspired what some called gentrification in the South Bronx were similar to what triggered rapid development in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Long Island City in the '90s: a steady influx of artists looking for affordable studios and loft spaces. While this trend continues in Mott Haven today, albeit to a lesser extent, the arts scene in the area has also suffered in recent years, according to local artists.

"At one point in 2006 there were at least half a dozen galleries here and now there are one or two left," said area resident Barry Kostrinksy, whose gallery Haven Arts closed in 2009 after a six-year run due to a lack of funding. "Most people don't think of South Bronx as a place to buy art; well-heeled collectors go to Chelsea, maybe Brooklyn."

Long-held attitudes about the rough-and-tumble character of the neighborhood are difficult to shake off, given the landscape of industrial lots and housing projects. The economic downturn also hit the borough particularly hard compared with Manhattan and Brooklyn, locals say. Unemployment in the Bronx stood at 11.7% in March, the highest county jobless rate in the state and well above 8.4% for New York City as a whole.

"I saw a lot of people lose their jobs and go from being food connoisseurs to not being able to afford a cup of coffee; from treating their friends to lunches and dinners to losing their homes and moving back to the states they came from," said Chris Dimitriyado, owner of Alexander's Café, which also opened in the area in 2006.

The latest development to go up in the neighborhood, Bruckner by the Bridge, is a low-income housing project with 419 rental units in three buildings.

Actually, it's NOT entirely low income housing affordable to those who live in the area -- which is why they'll have to reach beyond Community Board 1 to fill it...

April 25, 2011

Bloomberg talks of a new New York. And in midtown the tourists throng. But in just the past few days in the South Bronx, a 17 year old was killed for $10, and a couple stomped a 61 year old man to death. New New York?

April 18, 2011

The NYT reports “half the apartments at Bruckner by the Bridge are reserved for residents of the borough’s Community Board 1, the minimum salary required to qualify to live there — about $35,000 for a family of four — is far too steep for the area.”

Inner City Press: Why not require that half the apartments go to area residents, and make the rents have to come down to meet this threshold?

Those criticizing the NYC Housing Authority will expand, we hear, to include South Bronx Churches. There is a concern that the City may retaliate on the Nehemiah funding they receive. We'll see.

April 11, 2011

Inner City Press has long criticized the Community Reinvestment Act record of New York Community Bank, which for example insisted on providing its Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data in paper form, to evade review of its fair lending record.

More recent opponents on April 8 came to Bryant Avenue in The Bronx and “called on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to force New York Community Bank to evaluate the finances and living conditions at 34 rundown Bronx buildings in foreclosure, and then disclose information on building repairs that are needed. The move to pressure the FDIC to get involved is the latest salvo in a three-year campaign by officials and advocates to hold banks responsible for loans they made on multi-family properties that ended up falling into a state of disrepair. An amendment inserted in last year's Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act gives the FDIC the power to intervene. Tenants in the Bryant Avenue building are contending with dangerous conditions, officials said. Problems include a broken elevator, toxic mold and a carbon monoxide leak from the boiler.”

Yeah, that's NYCB...

April 4, 2011

So “The family of a Bronx third-grader who was handcuffed by police after a classroom fight is suing the NYPD. Sofia Bautista, who was a third-grader at Public School 132 in Morrisania last April, was arrested by police after she got into a fight with a classmate. 'They arrested me and they shouldn’t have arrested me,' Bautista said. In the lawsuit, the family claims she was taken into a squad car, handcuffed to a bench for nearly three hours at the 42nd Precinct in the South Bronx, interrogated without either of her parents present, and threatened with jail. Cops allegedly refused to allow her mother, Amarilis Bautista, to see her. 'Sofia was screaming for me, but there was nothing I could do. My daughter feels afraid all the time now.'” Great job, NYPD.

March 28, 2011

  Geraldine Ferraro was born in the South Bronx, but the news of her passing repeatedly said she was "from" Queens. Even there, P.S. 85 under the El where she taught second grade is now named for one of the Vallone clan. Inner City Press suggestion: why not rename it for her, since the Bridge was given to Ed Koch?

Passed away in Belmont: the empanadas place on Hughes and 187, with healthy juice: now store for rent. And laundromat 189. Academic gentrification?

What a scam: NYC Mayor Bloomberg's proposed budget calls for postponing the construction of new marine transfer stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn until 2016-19 -- leaving the burden on the South Bronx. Some environmental (in) justice...


March 21, 2011 - an Inner City Press scoop from last week:

Bloomberg Plans to Double City Gym Fees Despite Health Ad Campaigns

By Matthew Russell Lee

NEW YORK CITY, March 13 -- The Bloomberg administration is trying to double fees at NYC Parks Department gyms by June, despite its loud campaigns against obesity and for public health, Inner City Press has learned.

City gym staff told Inner City Press that the annual usage fee will rise from $75 to $150 in June. Similarly, the annual fee to use City tennis courts will double from $100 to $200.

While both are for now relatively affordable, a 100% increase would drive future usage down. Meanwhile the MTA subways are full of ads with graphic depiction of heart disease caused by, among other things, sugared soda and lack of exercise.

Another public health campaign, to require grocery stores which sell cigarettes to feature graphic posters of rotten teeth, has reportedly been put on hold by litigation.

  A bodegera told Inner City Press on March 13 that a District Court injunction now posted on her Plexiglass replaces the rotting tooth posters. Asked who was behind the lawsuit, she said “the people from Newport.” Watch this site.

March 14, 2011

Pure sleaze: “New York Community Bank has sold the mortgage on eight dilapidated buildings in the Bronx, bank officials said Thursday, disposing of its interests in properties that have attracted tenant protests. The purchaser bought the mortgage, which had a $16 million balance, at a discount. The bank declined to identify the buyer or to say how much the buyer paid.”

The buildings include 2345 Crotona Avenue and 735 Bryant Avenue..

"We received several offers on the note," said Ilene Angarola, a spokeswoman with New York Community Bancorp, the bank holding company. "We feel that this party has the experience and capacity to properly care for and manage the properties."

Yeah then why not say who they are?

March 7, 2011

So, what would be accomplished for the residents of the South Bronx and other low income neighborhoods by NYC “Int. No. 485 - A Local Law to amend the New York City charter, in relation to classification of depository banks” ? We'll have something to say soon.

February 28, 2011

So the police beat up 19 year old Jorge Cartagena for riding a bike on the sidewalk, and put him through the system for a day and a half -- and then exonerated themselves...

February 21, 2011

So now the Hunts Point Market is openly threatening to move to New Jersey when its lease expires in May. How did it come to this?

February 14, 2011

If you forgive the screaming capital letters, this is the type of protest we don't see enough of in The Bronx:

The UNITED NEW YORK CITY HOUSING AUTHORITY RESIDENTS of the 36th Senatorial District will hold an early afternoon candlelight vigil for all the fallen victims of violence in our combined NYCHA residences. UNR will be holding a press conference in support of our poor and working families of NYCHA residences, who DEMANDS more security and immediate installation of Close[d] Circuit TV (CCTV) Security Cameras Promised to the residents. Our Children and Seniors are DYING! We MUST have more security NOW!”

February 7, 2011

When Bronxite Ilia Lopez was killed by a hit and run livery cab at 4 am on February 4, the Post reported that she on her way to a methadone clinic on 121st Street and 2nd Avenue “that she typically visited at 4 a.m. daily for her dose” -- from Norwood in The Bronx.

Beyond the tragedy, some want to know why a methadone clinic is open at 4 a.m., drawing patients from the North Bronx. Lawsuit?

January 31, 2011

When Inner City Press on January 27 received an “urgent” press release about a $20,000 college scholarship program in The Bronx, it was opened with anticipation. Strangely, thought, SoBro was urgently requesting that local media cover a small-in-context grant from right-leaning media colossus News Corp, parent of the New York Post and Fox News. Why don't THEY urgently cover it?

And why didn't SoBro appear and give a quote in amNY's piece last week detailed failed attempts to gentrify the South South Bronx?

January 24, 2011

In the New York Times' demographic map page on January 23, The Bronx' census tracts are mostly dominated by US-born Hispanics, except for a track in the West Bronx that is mostly Caribbean immigrants. The only notation the Times makes is a tract with the “largest concentration of US born Hispanics (93%)” -- which it labels “Morrisania.” Looks more like Longwood, Simpson or Freeman Street....

January 17, 2011

We must comment, negatively, on the Daily News' decision to re-assign long time Bronx reporter Bob Kappstatter to lower Manhattan, even if on the police beat. One praiseworthy feature of the Daily News was its pages on The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. And now?

January 10, 2011

Hats for sale, baby pit bulls and cell phone companies working on commission: welcome to Fordham Road!

The proposal to merge the New York Banking and Insurance Departments, made by new governor Andrew Cuomo, is not only about the alleged convergence of the industries, but about the marginalization of the NY Banking Department.

One after one, large New York based banks switches from state to national regulation as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency offered preemption of all state laws. Citibank NA -- national association -- was followed by JPMorgan Chase and HSBC all switching to national charters.

The result was a Banking Department largely concerned with small mortgage companies and even check cashiers. Now comes Andrew Cuomo, proposing to put behemoths like AIG under the NYBD's jurisdiction. We're ready.

January 3, 2011

When massive amounts of public and private money were spent building a replica Yankee Stadium on the north side of 161st Street, it was said it would help the area, including with restaurants open all year round. A recent visit to the Hard Rock Cafe in the base of the new Yankee Stadium found it almost entirely empty -- two tables out of dozens had customers. A bartender explained that it is open when there are tours of the Stadium, and that they would be closing early that night. Big improvement for the neighborhood...

December 27, 2010

From the NYT last week: the NYPD “will begin videotaping interrogations. Investigators will be able to use cameras to videotape suspects as part of a pilot program in two precincts: The 67th Precinct in Brooklyn and the 48th Precinct in the Bronx, a police official said. 'In one squad, the camera will be obvious,' said the official, Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne. 'In the other, the camera will not be obvious.' He declined to say which camera would be in plain sight and which would be hidden, but he said that part of the pilot program’s aim was to establish how cameras make a difference when detectives interrogate people. At all times, he said, the police must disclose if a camera is present if someone under questioning asks questions about it, Mr. Browne said.”

But if the camera is not visible, why would a person ask about it?

December 20, 2010

East Tremont has been rebuilt at a higher density than the rest of the South Bronx. It started with a six story building on Washington Avenue, now mirrored by one on Third Avenue between the Cross Bronx and East Tremont. And above East Tremont, another one. They are relatively faceless and there has not been an increase in the number of stores. Yet.

December 13, 2010

Better late than never? Now Nadine Panton faces up to 25 years to life for the gruesome 2003 robbery and slaying of Nellie Hocutt. Her accomplice, Sparkle Daniel, was convicted in October. "After seven long years, both killers are finally going away," said Hocutt's 43-year-old grandson, Omar Whitfield.

But why did it TAKE seven years? In 2007, a person the two had confessed or bragged to turned them in, after a seemingly deceptive Daily News article said that new leads had emerged.

But why did the TRIAL take three years?

December 6, 2010

At Gracie Mansion, Jokes of Cathie Black & Bloomberg, Moses History & Onion Tart

By Matthew Russell Lee

GRACIE MANSION NYC, December 3 -- At Mayor Michael Bloomberg's holiday party for the press on December 2, the jokes were about Cathie Black and her lack of background in pedagogy. Bloomberg was given as a present a box of Nilla Wafers, said to be from a 99 cent store on Chambers Street, which on the back said Vanilla Waivers.

More interesting was a tour of the upstairs of Gracie Mansion. The guide, who will remain in the shadows for reasons that will become clear, began with what he called the master bedroom. Until Bloomberg, he said, it was called the Mayor's bedroom, as all New York City mayor's from LaGuardia to Giuliani slept there.

Next came the room of the the wife of Mayor Wagner, who raised some $800,000 dollars to build a new wing on Gracie Mansion, where downstairs Bloomberg was working the crowd of reporters, who nibbled on onion tarts with the ubiquitous balsamic vinegar and passable holiday cookies.

Facing the East River, across which British cannons in Queens fired at George Washington's artillery set up on this spot during the Revolutionary War, is a guest room which has hosted, among others, Nelson Mandela, Menachem Begin and Desmond Tutu. Guiliani's daughter's room was converted by Bloomberg's personal interior decorator Jaime Drake into an “old country” bedroom complete with long armed bed warmer in the fireplace.

By the staircase to get back down is a sign board with the names of contributors to the Gracie Mansion Conservancy. Inner City Press asked if companies which do buiness with the City can give money to the Conservancy.

The Conservancy is separate from the City, Inner City Press was told. We will have more on this. Quickly a higher up in the Conservancy approached. The tour would have to be called off, Inner City Press was told. Any such questions should be directed to the press office, not to the “docent.” It was implied that Inner City Press would somehow need the press office's permission to write this article.

Downstairs the drinking and eating continued, the latter largely from the kosher table. There is an oil painting of Mrs. Wagner, and a breakfast room where, among others, the Russian oligarch owner of the Nets was hosted. Ah, Brooklyn real estate. In the room there is a convex mirror, too high to see your face in, meant to spread light.

The history of the Gracie Mansion was finally explained. Gracie was a Scottish businessman -- he might have owned the Nets or Knicks of his day -- who looked for a place “uptown in the country” to do his entertaining. He chose the site from which George Washington was routed.

His business failed, and the house passed from hand to hand, finally ending up abandoned when it was taken by the City under eminent domain to build what's now the FDR Drive. During construction, New York's “Master Builder” Robert Moses had the lawn raises so the highway would go undernearth.

No such delicacy was used by Moses in the Bronx, where tenements and bus depots were mowed down for the Cross Bronx Expressway. Ironically, in one of Gracie Mansion's downstairs rooms on Thursday night, a flat screen TV played images of the South Bronx in the 1970s, the burned out blocks of Charlotte Street and graffitied Number Five train over Southern Boulevard and Boston Road. It played without the sound on.

LaGuardia, originator of Public Markets in the Bronx and Essex Street, was offered two mansions as possible homes: one on 75th and Riverside deemed “too fancy” by the Little Flower, and Gracie Mansion, which he okayed. Moses had the Mansion renovated -- it had become a public restroom, a storehouse for the Parks Department and purveyor of Italian ices -- and LaGuardia moved in. All mayors since, until Bloomberg, lived here.

The reporters talk turned to Bloomberg, how he bought a floor of the townhouse next to his on 79th Street in order to extend his living room, how he serves popcorn and hotdogs on expensive china, how an SUV drives him to the express IRT stop on 59th Street for his subway ride downtown. It was time to go.

November 29, 2010

We recommend 80 Blocks From Tiffany's, shot in the Bronx in 1979. Released only as an educational VHS in 1985, it's now out on DVD. It's based on a 1977 Esquire piece by Jon Bradshaw about the Savage Skulls and the Savage Nomads...

November 22, 2010

From last Sunday's Times on Hunts Point: “Although developers say that tight credit has put the brakes on additional co-op construction, and although prostitution is a problem in Hunts Point, the area has nonetheless stabilized.” Tight credit...

November 22, 2010

From last Sunday's Times on Hunts Point: “Although developers say that tight credit has put the brakes on additional co-op construction, and although prostitution is a problem in Hunts Point, the area has nonetheless stabilized.” Tight credit...

November 15, 2010

In the windows of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan there are photos of The Bronx by Lisa Kahane, of holes in cinder block sealed buildings, a building on fire, a garden in a lot surrounded by abandoned buildings. Three blocks away on 6th Avenue and 43rd Street in the International Center of Photography there is an exhibit, reviewed below, which includes similar photographs of Madrid after Franco's bombing...

In NY, Spanish Civil War Photos Scream of Propaganda, Echo Sudan & Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee

NEW YORK, November 13 -- Even undoctored photographs can serve as propaganda. The Spanish Civil War photographs of Robert Capa, Chim (David “Seymour” Szymin) and Gerda Taro on display in Manhattan's International Center of Photograph through January 9 show heroic Republicans fighting Franco's fascists, shot for Leftist magazines in France, the UK and even Germany.

The captions make clear how the photos were intended. Chim shot a series about Republicans trying to save Spanish and Catholic art words from fascist attacks -- to counter the idea, the caption says, that the Republicans were anti-Catholic, barbarians who would destroy Spain's cultural patrimony.

Taro, in the battle of Brunete she would die in, took photos to show Republican victories “when written reports were discredited.” But did people, even then, believe their eyes?

Chim took a photograph of a woman breastfeeding her baby, looking up at the sky. Later a magazine called Madrid published it with airplanes arranged above, and it became known as a photo of a air raid. But it was not.

The French weekly Regards sent a letter of introduction for Capa, saying “you know our magazine, we will use this to serve the Spanish people.” One imagines applications today to the government of Sudan to cover the war in Darfur, or to Sri Lanka to cover the shattered Tamil areas. “Our photos can help you” -- but will they?

Capa documented French run camps for refugee Republicans on their way to Mexico. The camps were surrounded by barbed wire and soldiers, like the internment camps for Tamils at Vavuniya in Sri Lanka. There, the government barred journalists for months, as it has now denied visas to media which showed pictures of the dead.

The exhibit is called “The Mexican Suitcase” -- in which the three photographers' 4500 negatives were found in 2007 -- and runs through January 9, the day scheduled for the South Sudan referendum. There are photos, too, from there. Plus ca change.

November 8, 2010

In the Sheraton's ballroom on the night of November 2, the press assembled hours early as Democratic staffers tested the sound system. And now! Our Governor elect! Androooooo Cuomo! Mario and Matilda. Waiters came out and put bags of chips and popcorn on the tables then withdrew them. A cash bar was set up, fully $16 for “premium” liquor. But just outside the ballroom was a sign, Union Members Only. Inside were tables piled with good. Membership has its privileges, apparently. Thompson was interviews with Fios-1, and left without bodyguards. Inner City Press left too, to monitor the evening's wider results.

From Soho to Brooklyn, Must Alternative Arts Just Mean Gentrification? Of Fashion MODA

By Matthew Russell Lee

BRONX, October 29 -- How do independent artists try to avoid being stalking horses for real estate development? What is alternative art?

  The questions were raised on October 29 in a self styled alternative space on Tenth Avenue in the West 30s, when Stefan Eins of Fashion Moda previously in the South Bronx (and now in Harlem) spoke, along with Beka Economopoulos of the Not an Alternative space in Williamsburg.

  Inner City Press asked each of them, and the other panelists who appeared along with Beka, about gentrification and the limits of good intentions. Avram Finkelstein, designer of the Silence = Death anti-AIDS logo, said one has to consider ownership, not only of property but also ideas. He recounted how AmFAR edited from a poster any reference to corporate greed.

  Earlier in the panel discussion at Exit Art, tales were told of alternative spaces on Greene Street and Bleecker and Bowery, all locations now firmly gentrified. The Asian American Arts Center has, in a sense, been gentrified out of existence. It has retreated from a McDonalds invaded building on the Bowery to a smaller space on Norfolk, seeking grants to digitize photos of its former exhibitions.

 To Inner City Press' question about how artists can avoid being the vanguard of gentrification, Exit Art founder Jeannette Ingberman whispered an answer about capitalism. Earlier, NYU academic Melissa Bachleff Burtt had recounted stories of Yoko Ono's loft on Chambers Street, and the 10th Street co-op scene.

   Alanna Heiss of P.S. 1 and the Clocktower Gallery, among other great stories told about the Crown Heights Police Station, saying it “made Fort Apache [The Bronx] look like a garden party, with artists' studios in holding cells and a commander, Adam Butcher, who spoke of poets, painters and policemen. And now, it's condominiums.

Stefan Eins of Fashion Moda told Inner City Press that although his iconic space on Third Avenue and 147th Street closed, he moved to a brownstone in Harlem, and has traveled as far as Osh in Kyrgyzstan to present about Fashion Moda. That never triggered gentrification, perhaps because it closed. Or could that be why it closed?

  In Exit Art, many alternative spaces were memorialized in cardboard boxes: the Longwood Arts Project in the Bronx, Gran Fury and others. (The Fashion Moda box contain, along with photos of Ahearn murals, a photo book by On the wall were posters of the Real Estate Show held on Delancey Street in 1980, and a photo of Elenor Holmes Norton when she was with the Studio Museum in Harlem. The show, and the boxes, are worth seeing.

October 25, 2010

Let's compare the J train over Broadway in Brooklyn to the El trains in The Bronx. Those over Jerome and Westchester Avenues in The Bronx are sturdier, were built as fancy suburban trains. East New York, from whence the J train comes, seems to have been working class for some time. Walk it to Myrtle, where you'll find the Kiwi Market, an amalgam of Asian vegetables, yuppie staples like goat cheese, and a largely Mexican clientele. Across Broadway is a good take-out Chinese, photo of a tranquil lake above a bulletproof Plexiglass counter. A man comes in repeatedly asking for “two quarters.” There are no takers.

October 18, 2010

Up on Gun Hill Road, on October 16 there was a fish fry to raise money to build a church's community center: red snapper! The Jamaican health food store sold carrot and sorrel juice, some with Tiger Bone (some wag asked, Tiger Woods?) and sour sop. In the housing project an FDNY truck spoke loudly to children, incongruously with a British accent. Some of the Bronx is changing but some is not.

October 11, 2010

Oops-- After all the money spent, a typo on a sign along the Willis Avenue Bridge is confusing commuters. The northbound exit sign alerts drivers to Interstate 287, instead of the correct Interstate 278. The NYC Department of Transportation confirmed the error. The sign will be fixed by the weekend, according to DOT press secretary Scott Gastel...

October 4, 2010

We have written before of the fall off in service in the Mount Carmel Post Office in the Bronx on Saturdays. But on October 2 things hit a new and comical low. Behind the counter two weekend fill ins were joking, about serving time in jail, fighting with customers. A man came in and asked, “Could you give me a money order for $150?”

I don't know about giving it to you,” the fill in joker said. “If you pay for it, maybe.”

Next up was a Caribbean woman who asked how much it cost to send registered mail.

That's for stocks and bonds and jewelry,” the fill in joker said. “Do you have those?”

Are you supposed to ask me what I'm sending?”

I'm supposed to inform you about the product if you don't understand it.”

What makes you think I don't understand it?”

Joker 1 paused then said, “I'll step away from the window and you can continue with my man here.” And then he did.

But the Caribbean women said, “What was that man's name?”

Mister Harris.”

She continued, “because he needs to be reported.”

September 27, 2010

In the wake of the murder last week in the Bronx of Nicaraguan consular official Cesar Mercado, many at the UN and elsewhere have been asking why Mercado was living on the Grand Concourse and 180th Street, given his diplomatic salary. Inner City Press is told that he received a lump sum for housing costs, and was allowed to keep -- and send back to Nicaragua -- anything he didn't spend... Sources also tell Inner City Press that the person who discovered his body was not his “driver,” as has been reported, but another employee of the Nicaraguan Consulate. Mercado was always on time, so when he was late, the employee was sent uptown to look into it. The superintendent let the employee into the building, the sources say, but Mercado's apartment door was open. It's said that it was unlikely the killer was a stranger. We'll see.

September 20, 2010

From the News: “Cops recently dismantled a huge, entrenched heroin ring that had hundreds of customers lining up on Valentine [Avenue]. The Rev. John Jenik, pastor of Our Lady of Refuge Church on Bainbridge Ave., has been fighting the blight for nearly 30 years. He took National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske for a tour of Valentine on June 7, when Kerlikowske was in the Bronx to launch an anti-drug campaign for teens... E. 194th St. is a bustling commercial strip with a pizza place, hardware store, fruit market, video shop. Against this backdrop, on Valentine between E. 194th to E. 196th, the La Perla organization ran a $40,000-a-day heroin enterprise.” This is not the only place in The Bronx...

September 13, 2010

The night before Ferragosto, the Arthur Avenue Trattoria re-opened after more than a week of renovations. Gone were the posters of Casablanca, replaced by exposed brick. Still, a half carafe of Orvieto was only $12, as was a bento box of antipasto. The chef, now nearly a year on the job, said that even while the place was closed, they worked up dishes for the Ferragosto. But his wife and not he would serve them: he had catering to do.

September 6, 2010

With the Bronx Bombers in first place in the AL East, the Staten Island Yankees ended their season on September 5 below .500, with another loss to the Vermont Lake Monsters. It was a brilliant sunny day but the stadium, with its views of the harbor and Lower Manhattan, was half full, even with an all you can eat promotion. This turned out to be a scam, offering only one item at a time: a dry cheeseburger, thrown through the air from one attendant to another; Sierra Mist free but Tropicana Twister now, somehow deemed premium.

The Baby Bombers' starting pitcher gave up three early runs on a series of doubles. The Yankees cut it to 3-2 before a reliever came in and gave up a bases loaded triple. Game over, though in the bottom of the ninth with two outs the Yankees got a two run homer to at least cut the lead.

There are red capped Marines prominently in the stands and on the field. An award was given to a recruiter of soldiers to fight in Iraq. At game's end, kids -- some of them overgrown -- were allowed to run the bases. “See you next year,” the announcer said. We sure hope so.

August 30, 2010

... Entering the Bronx over the soon to be demolished Willis Avenue bridge on the Bx 15 bus, the new building on Bruckner Boulevard blots out the view now. The bridge's walkway runs right by the buildings windows. One wonders how they have not yet be broken, or will not in the future be.

Jump cut to the stretch above 163rd Street, new buildings on each side and still the Franklin Avenue Armory looming on the hill. To jam hundreds of family into this sullen stretch - the construction clearly has nothing to do with the market or any organic growth, simply the availability of subsidy at some time in the past. New empires being built, which will someday collapse...

August 23, 2010

In Near Empty UN, Four Yankees Shine Light on Sierra Leone and Refugee, GM Cashman on Sox, Rays and AL Headaches

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 18 -- It was a slow August day at the UN when four players of the New York Yankees plus the team's general manager arrived with 17 year old refugee from Sierra Leone Mohamed Kamara, set to meet his country's ambassador to the UN in the Indonesia Lounge next to the General Assembly.

It was described to the UN press corps as a photo op. Some 15 correspondents showed up, Inner City Press among them. UN Protocol and security officials scurried around. Finally up the escalator came Derek Jeter and C.C. Sabathia, with Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames. They stood for a photograph then went in for what was described as a meeting.

Syria's Ambassador to the UN ran in after them. One reporter joked, is he looking for an autograph? Another came up with a phrase: the Damascus Destroyer chases the Bronx Bombers.

When it was over, general manager Brian Cashman took three questions. One was baseball related: what does he think of the Tampa Bay Rays? Cashman said not only the Rays are tough, there's also Boston , Texas and Minnesota, all of them headaches.

Even on a slow news day at the UN -- Inner City Press ran from the photo op to the noon briefing and asked about Sudan, Congo and Sri Lanka -- one had to wonder what was the UN hook? Apparently, they wanted to meet Sierra Leone's ambassador. The UN was a mere venue. Then again, they went to the New York Stock Exchange too. A tour of New York icons by New York icons. It's what passes for news in August.

August 16, 2010

While some restaurant in Belmont like Roberto's just get more and more expensive, the Arthur Avenue Trattoria sprang up this year, converted from a dessert place, and began serving antipasto and pasta at $14, with $18 carafes of homemade wine. It's a hit, with the obligatory posters of the Sopranos and Good Fellas but also Casablanca on the walls. The antipasto comes in what looks like a Japanese bento box. They are not yet so arrogant they think the customer should be grateful to be there. On a recent visit, the linguine with walnuts was superb, as was the service. Mid-meal, the face of Mike's Deli across the street came in, glad handing. Later passing through the Market, he asked, “so how'd you like it?” while passing out the trattoria's business card to his salami customers. So there might be some connection there...

Also opening on Arthur Avenue is a place called Gerbasi. On August 14, they were painting the place and passing out their glossy business cards. It is in the space that previously had karaoke. We wish them luck.

August 9, 2010

In NYC's Central Park, The xx and Chairlift Raise Hipsters' Spirits, Bronx Death Continues

By Matthew Russell Lee

CENTRAL PARK, NYC, August 8 -- A surprise free show by The xx in Central Park's Summer Stage drew a crowd that could not fit in the venue. Also drawn by Brooklyn based Chairlift, hipsters filled the park's hills and rock formations, chased by security guards as they surged closer to hear the music.

One had to move close to hear The xx, especially at the beginning. The set began with only bass. Inner City Press saw several less than committed hipsters get up and leave, muttering “Just play the songs!”

But The xx did. By the time they reached Basic Space, the crowd inside the Summerstage and out on the grass was roaring. Because of the stripped down arrangements, the bands sounds as good or better live as on recording.

When they played “Shelter,” with the all purpose lyrics about if I said something wrong, let me make it right with the light turned on, several in the crowd were crying.

Meanwhile a security guard chased listeners down the hill by the Park's 72nd Street entrance. He shouted, “They're not letting anyone else in!” But The xx won't play in New York for some time.

There was the smell of marijuana; there were Brazilian drums from elsewhere in the Park. One imagines Mayor Bloomberg taking credit even for this, as he did for the Dumpster swimming pools on Park Avenue and 40th Street on Saturday, saying the publicity draws more tourists.

   In the outer boroughs, the Bronx and eastern Brooklyn, people are being shot like dogs. But in Central Park and by Grand Central, hipsters and tourists are doing just fine. That is Bloomberg's New York. But after him, will it be more democratic? Watch this site.

August 2, 2010

Now, following the New York Times, it's the NY Post pitching Bronx real estate, describing rising prices as an unmitigated good, no mention of affordability or displacement:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/realestate/residential/urban_FChwSDV9KlSI0972nTq7XK

July 26, 2010

Hector Nazario, famed South Bronx graffiti artist with TATs Cru, has suffered a tragedy: the shooting death of his son Bleu. Rather than a mural, he is establishing a fund for other parents who suffer this bereavement. We urge support -- and accountability.

July 19, 2010

Oh how the South Bronx is used. Al Pacino, selling out to do an ad for an Australian coffee company, says “Those cold mornings in the South Bronx, granddad would go into the kitchen, heat up some coffee and there I was, little Al, and he would just give me a little sip.”

And of George Steinbrenner, may he RIP, Ray Negron says Steinbrenner “made the Bronx more beautiful.” He did many things -- but that?

There is a street fair in Belmont, complete with free refills of pina coladas right in front of the church.

July 12, 2010

The NY Times' July 7 breathless story about Belmont shifting from Italian to Mexican is both too late and too superficial. One thing is misses is that Latinos overtook Italians in the neighborhood some time ago, are are the political power at present. Amazingly, the article contains no quote from or question to the Rivera dynasty, nor much mention of the Kosovar and Albanian presence. The Times covers The Bronx so infrequently and so superficially, there is no continuity...

July 5, 2010

In NYC, Fireworks Are For Tourists, Afghan Iraq Echoes, Illegal Bronx Fight Back

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS/Bronx, July 4 -- New York City's fireworks on the Fourth of July were top heavy with tourists, marveling at the pyrotechnics, the history and present of war on the Sunday's agenda. Days after the U.S. had to switch generals in Afghanistan, bringing in its Iraq hero, the significance of the aerial display seemed lost on Brazilian and PIGS -- Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain -- tourists reveling by the Hudson River.

  The route to the fireworks led through a tourist packed Times Square, and an extension of Little Brazil from 46th to 48th Street. While Mexican immigrants are to be cross examined in Arizona, more affluent South American tourists preened in front of the Marriott Marquis.

Give us your decadent, your tourists with thousand dollar cameras, we'll will fleece them in theme park restaurants” -- was THIS was America was about?

  Earlier on July 4, Obama played golf, as his chief of staff mocked BP's executive for going on a yacht. The throngs moved east on 49th and 48th Street, past the UN's temporary peacekeeping office on Madison Avenue.

In the Congo, over 200 died in an oil tanker crash, buried in mass graves. In Times Square, decadent European tourists argued about frozen yoghurt. The UN was dark, the world without direction.

But up in The Bronx, the fire crackers were illegal, the fire hydrants were open, the summer was beginning...

Footnote: Vicious circle --  The “Play Me, I'm Yours” public arts project people put only four pianos in the Bronx, unlike other boroughs. Then, or and so, two of the four got broken, including the one at Fordham Road....

June 28, 2010

It's World Cup season in Belmont. On June 26 when the US scored its one goal versus Ghana, albeit by penalty kick, the vuvuzelas were blown, and several social clubs erupted in cheers. When Mexico got blown out by Argentina the next day, an air of depression fell over the area.

June 21, 2010

Change change change in Belmont. The landmark Pete's Cafe, following the death of founder Pete on February 2 of this year, has turned into something of shrine, with his image everywhere. It's touching. And there's there the World Cup on a small screen television, on which on June 20 Italy got tied by New Zealand. Que verguenza!

And on 188th Street, the group previously known as "Federation for European American Rights" -- that's right, FEAR --- is now SACO. Good name change. The FEAR is gone.

June 14, 2010

Strange that the publisher's summary and an NYC review of the book "The Fires" focused on the RAND Corporation's role in the destruction of the South Bronx, with nary a mention of redlining by banks and insurance companies, which sped up the incentive for arson...

June 7, 2010

Gil Kerlikowske, who as director for the White House Office of Drug Control Policy has scoffed at even the idea of legalization, will be photo-opping at The Bronx's Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center on June 7. The Center was the site of a murder last November. The response eight months later is to poll teens about what "influences" them. Kerlikowske's web page for New York State speaks about New Mexico. As of June 6 it says "For more information about drug-related data and responses to drugs and crime in New Mexico visit these sites." Under the influence?

May 31, 2010

In Belmont there's new sushi, in the wake of Sake II. A fancier place on Arthur, with ball bearings on strings as curtains, where Italian Frank's once was. On a recent visit, no one else was there. The Age Tofu came in liquid with a Halloween like sauce. But the bento boxes, with curried pork chop and salmon, hit the spot. At the end, fried Oreos on the house. We wish them well.

May 24, 2010

Last week the story was teenagers killed in Bronx street. This week it's gone indoors, inside the Melrose Houses, where 14 year old Emonee Williams was stabbed 20 times by her sister's father / mother's ex boyfriend. A Bronx web site calls him a "pseudo boyfriend" -- hindsight is 20-20. The Wall Street Journal, in its new cover the New York waterfront iteration, chimed in on the story, with some details others didn't have. A sad, sad story.

May 17, 2010

Last Sunday two teenagers, Quanisha Wright and Marvin Wiggins, were shot and killed in the lobby of a building in Mount Hope. Saturday their parents and others rallied in Claremont Park against gun violence. But that night on Gun Hill Road, 15 year old Jeffrey Delmore was killed -- with a knife...

May 10, 2010

So has Belmont become entirely gentrified? On May 7, 187th Street was flush with Fordham students, a party on Crotona Avenue got out of hand. Just a few years ago, you wouldn't see this number of students on 187th Street all year. Is it the safety? Is it the rising rents?

And at Roberto's, which began as a small Italian restaurant with broccoli rabe and a piano, they now have thousand dollar bottles of wine, and few Bronxites inside. This is progress?

May 3, 2010

Bronx action of the month of April is the lawsuit against Wells Fargo for failure to maintain ten apartment buildings it is foreclosing on, including 3018 Heath Avenue. The case involves over 500 families, tenants of Millbank Real Estate before it defaulted on its $35 million mortgage. Then Wells Wargo and LNR Partners moved in. Alongside the lawsuit, Wells Fargo was hit by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Junior and the local Councilman Fernando Cabrera.

On Cablevision's News 12 The Bronx, BP Diaz fielded calls from constituents, telling most of them to call his office of constituent services, including about potholes in Moshulu. But when another caller said that the City's 311 call in provided faster service, Diaz said you could call them to. The exchange exemplified that the Borough President's Office right now don't have much function. Cabrera, a long time Pentacostal pastor in the area, also protested the planned move of a NYC high school from near Bronx Community College down to the South Bronx High School site. Our question:is it that BCC is too full, or that SBHS needs a tenant? Watch this site.

April 26, 2010

There's a controversy, in the NYC parks and open space community at least, about the appointment of Lee Stuart as head of "New Yorkers for Parks." The reason? Ms. Stuart pushed for Nehemiah Homes in the South Bronx, displacing parks, leading to arrests. We of Inner City Press were there, and can testify to the hard ball politics of the era.

Meanwhile, on the day before Earth Day, the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza had Colombian -- or was it Venezuelan? -- flutists, cheese cubes and coffee in the park across from the UN. There's a one day a week Green Market, diplomats munching vegetable tart. A short distance but a long way from the South Bronx... So's this:

April 26, 2010 - click here for BloggingHeads.tv debate on Afghanistan cover up, Bhutto, Iran, Sudan and the UN's Love Boat in Haiti, by Inner City Press

April 19, 2010

We have reported on the banks which left The Bronx, snooping for example around old Chase Manhattan branches turned into churches. But it's time to mention Melrose Credit Union, which runs radio advertisements during Yankee games. Perhaps you've seen their sign, if you drive to or from JFK airport. The institution says, right on its website, that

"since 1922. Melrose was initially established to provide financial resources for individuals and small business owners from the Bronx, NY. Through the Credit Union, community residents were afforded the means to pursue their American Dreams. The success of Melrose Credit Union has not diminished its original mission statement: Empower the community by offering affordable financial products and services. Today that community commitment has helped transform Melrose into an over $1 billion credit union with over 20,000 members residing across the country and around the world."

Melrose is a neighborhood in the South Bronx, which this "successful" credit union left behind. It has no branch in The Bronx; it left the borough but speaks about empowerment of (presumably other) neighbhorhoods. What was that again, about there being no need for a Community Reinvestment Act on credit unions?

Speaking of baseball, not the Yanks by the Mets, after 20 inning game on April 17, which the Mets won 2 to 1 after St. Louis started pitching outfielders, NPR radio the next morning reported on the marathon game, but said that St Louis had won 2 to 1. Talk about getting no respect. Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya as Rodney Dangerfield?

April 12, 2010

The New York Times' coverage of the Bronx has hit a new low. Earlier this month, under the headline "On the Cross Bronx, Torture. On the Stoop, Entertainment," the Times devoted over 1000 words to portraying Bronxites as grateful to this destructive and polluting highway. There was something of "The Gods Must Be Crazy" to the article, and no mention of asthma or displacement caused by the highway and the continuing reverberations. Times on Bronx? No Thonx.

April 5, 2010

For some weeks we've somewhat coasted in this Bronx Report, reviewing Albanian groceries and juice and salad bars. But this week we sampled a place so surreal, so in a sense revealing, that we must remain on the theme. It's "Dolce Amaro" on Arthur Avenue, sporting signs of Karaoke and Internet Cafe, "BYOB" Bring Your Own Booze. There is only one problem -- they charge five dollars for you to "bring your own booze." This after offering to sell you bootleg wine. We mention this because they also, while purporting to take credit cards, tell you that the tip must be in cash -- then impose an extra five dollars on credit cards anyway. The karaoke, on Friday April 2, consisted on five people in a red painted basement, one of them asleep in a LaZboy reclining chair in front of a Good Fellas poster. In the front were two Roman statues, in the base an Asian family reading the lyrics on the screen.

Upstairs the main waiter couldn't recite the list of special. "The book they write them in," he said, "got wet." He brought the sandwich board in from the sidewalk, then charged five dollars more than listed for the ravioli with shrimp pesto. The ravioli, he said when asked, came from Restaurant Supply. Why not from Borgatti's?

In the middle of the meal, an Asian woman came in selling bootleg DVDs. She had the Hurt Locker, Green Zone and Brooklyn's Finest. An offer to break bread was ignored. It was surreal.

The cold antipasto, we must say in fairness, was not bad. It's not difficult, in a neighborhood full of fresh mozzarella and sausage. But there was also shredded eggplant, and small but tasty olives. We suggest that dish, and bringing your own booze and glasses, to protest any extra five dollar charge.

March 29, 2010

Well, we have to reverse course and return to last week's praise along Hughes Avenue. On a colder Saturday, Quick Fresh's glass doors were closed to keep the wind out. A salad that's five dollars in Manhattan cost eight. Chicken soup, albeit fresh, was nearly four dollars for a small cup. This is their second store, after upper Manhattan. But will The Bronx, even Belmont, bear these prices?

At the new Albanian grocery, there are limitations too. The smallest container of goat cheese -- all from Bulgaria -- costs $9.50. Tourists walk in speaking German. Is this even The Bronx?

March 22, 2010

There are at least three new additions on Hughes Avenue in Belmont. Where the fancy empanadas place closed down, a juice and salad bar also with empanadas has emerged: Quick Fresh. An early test finds many of the fruits for juices missing, and a switch to chicken and corn empanadas without consent. But the place has promise: a juice bar with mamey, pastrami empanadas, the salad not bad.

Next door in the spot that used to sell eggs creams, a luncheonette has opened, with newly orange walls, salsa playing and a menu filled with mis-spellings (fires for fries, garbled nuggsts and cheeseseteak). While "eggs any style" are on the menu, a request for poached eggs resulted in a "what's that"? The coffee is good. And the eggs, fried, are not bad!

Two block south on Hughes is a new Albanian grocery, Vjolca-European Market. It is full of Bulgarian cheese, orange soda from Pristina and sausages. Unlike similar markets nearby, it does not feel like a social club, but a market. We wish them luck.

March 15, 2010

The Bronx According to the Sunday New York Times of March 14: suburban City Island, a Bronx cheer unrelated to the borough, obesity and a man killed by a freight train. That's it?

March 8, 2010

Yes, Serafin Mariel is the banker who took the money from the Yankees' scam community benefits agreement and put it in "his" bank at no interest, causing him to be sued for mismanaging the fund. But while the sign on the bank still says "New York National Bank," it is now owned by the already questionable Hudson Valley Bank...

March 1, 2010

The Daily News' real estate section of February 26, under the heading "A New Bronx Tale," touts gentrification in Belmont. It quotes one long time, locked jaw Belmontian as promoting gentrification: "This is not gentrification like Park Slope or the upper West Side. We're turning a corner." The article says, "maybe this has a change of becoming a new Williamsburg?" We hope not. People need to be able to afford to live here. And those who sell that out are not friends.

Yes, the Bronx has been named the least healthy place in all of New York State. The ranking's based on longevity, baby weight and how residents feel physically and mentally. Researchers also ranked smoking, exercise, access to parks and number of doctors available. Correlation to income? To political corruption?

February 22, 2009

So when the New York Times of February 20 mentioned the South Bronx, we wondered: what would it be about? Turned out it was only a suburbanite passing through on Metro North commuter rail, learning via an iPhone app -- Foursquare, partner of the NYT which was promoting it -- of a single Bronx location in the area they keep trying to gentrify, the Bruckner Bar & Grill. Typical...

February 15, 2010

The street scape of Belmont is changing, the sign scape, the storefronts. On the corner of Hughes and 187, the empanadas place is being reconfigured, the yellow sign is done. Next door the old newsstand has now been painted inside, it is Roma Bagel, the egg cream crowd seems gone. And what of the juice bar, naturelle juice, that only recently opened on 187 between Arthur and Hoffman? On February 13 is was closed in the afternoon, never a good sign. They are "pulling a Belmont Cafe," as one observer put it. And so it goes.

February 8, 2010

The New York State Department of Labor recently reported that the unemployment rate in the Bronx was at 13.9 percent, making Bronx the county with the state's highest unemployment rate.

Click HERE for an InnerCityPress.com article last week about Henry Paulson's book.

February 1, 2010

In the run up to soccer's World Cup in South Africa, German (and former New York Cosmos) star Franz Beckenbauer told AFP, "If you are alone in Soweto at night, then you could be in trouble, but then you would not walk into the South Bronx of New York alone at night." He was defending FIFA's decision to award the 2010 World Cup to South Africa after Bayern Munich boss Uli Hoeness said, "I was never a fan of the World Cup being held in South Africa, or anywhere on the African continent, as long as safety aspects are not clarified 100 percent," the Bayern boss had said. So in purporting to be progressive, Beckenbauer trashed the South Bronx. How... Cosmopolitan.

ICP's Haiti Poem, here

January 25, 2010

Now green -- NYC, rather than closing ALL of Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School in the Bronx, is only phasing out carpentry, plumbing, electrical and other trade programs, leaving open only automotive... What was that about green jobs again?
 
   Inner City Press on BloggingHeads.tv about Haiti, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan... and Massachusetts, here.

January 18, 2010

The owner of the American Diner on E. 204th Street paid $2,000 to have it burned down just before Christmas, it is now alleged. Arson is back... And so is slander: In Australia,

"Liep Gony, a 19-year-old refugee from Sudan, was brutally murdered in Melbourne on September 26, 2007. The killing became a pretext for an outpouring of racially-charged statements from politicians and media commentators about the involvement of African-Australian youth in violent crime, despite the fact that the only African involved in this crime was the innocent victim. On December 18, Clinton Rintoull was sentenced to 16 years for the killing. In passing sentence, Justice Elizabeth Curtain described the murder as “vicious, brutal and unprovoked”, according to the Herald Sun that day. She described how Rintoull was seen day with the metal pole he used in the crime shouting, 'These blacks are turning the town into the Bronx. I am looking to take my town back.'"

January 11, 2010

Pop quiz: so what's more "shocking" -- that two Bronx bodegas were pegged by a tabloid to be selling vodka to minors, that Stoli gushed on Twitter about it, or that the State Liquor Authority has eleven investigators for the five boroughs?

January 4, 2010

"NYPD Sgt. Reginald McReynolds, who is African-American, said he was a victim of racial profiling when he was stopped by two fellow police officers while in his girlfriend's apartment building in the Bronx on October 26. According to the official police report, the officers were responding to a domestic abuse call in the same building and mistook McReynolds for the suspect, handcuffing him."

Ask yourself -- if in the suburbs police were responding to a domestic abuse call in one house, would they handcuff a neighbor who was coming home?

December 28, 2009

In the storefront that housed the ill fate Belmont Cafe, a Japanese restaurant has opened. It's Sake II, advertising both sushi and hibachi. They don't have a liquor license yet, and the food is cheap, at least at lunch. Six dollars for hibachi chicken, with fried rice, vegetables, miso soup and the ubiquitous salad with thousand island dressing. The chicken is cooked on the griddle -- is it the one belonging to the Belmont Cafe? -- and for there there is 20 percent off. Whether this area of the Bronx is ready for a Japanese-only restaurant is not clear. We will continue to cover this.

December 21, 2009

From the Montreal Gazette of December 17, 2009 : "Although Montreal North might be 'bad' by Montreal standards, it's nothing at all like the South Bronx. I grew up in New York City and have been living in Montreal for five years. The officer who said 'Montreal North is like the Bronx' (Dec. 4) has obviously never been there." This is a double whammy: a Canadian cop compares a neighborhood to The Bronx, a reader says that the Bronx is worse...

December 14, 2009

As Bloomberg Jokes of Media's Death, UN's Ban Lives It, Asbestos Links the Two

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- Both the UN and New York's City Hall are covered by fewer and fewer mainstream journalists. At a December 10 event at Gracie Mansion, Mayor Michael Bloomberg joked that there were gatecrashers like at the White House, the proof being that they said they were with the New York Times Metro section, "clearly fake."

  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, at a similar event on December 4, did not joke about the increasing flight of the press from the UN. That was left for master of ceremonies Richard Roth of CNN, who joked that soon the UN would only be covered by "the bearded blogger."

   At the Gracie Mansion event, the joke by the New York Post's David Seifman was that there were only eight reporters present, the rest being publicists. Inner City Press, which attended both events because it covers both beats, was pitched even during Bloomberg's jokes by a promoter of hotels, from Crosby Street to Eighth Avenue and 44th Street and even the Bronx' City Island.

  A running joke throughout the December 4 event was that the already begun gut rehabilitation of the UN building is releasing not only rodents but asbestos. As it happened, by December 10 the UN's contractor was furiously testing for asbestos release right by the UN's gift shop, which is open to the public.

   Bloomberg's sister, the City's liaison to the UN, has already barred public school children from touring the UN's Conference Building. One wonders if she knows of the suspected release by the UN gift shop: some gift.

  CNN's Roth got laughs, for example by suggesting that outgoing spokesperson Michele Montas go on a vacation to Club Med in Sri Lanka with this publication.

  Seifman's jokes at Bloomberg included a Bronx reference, a gift certificate for Kingsbridge Armory which he called the Ruben Diaz Junior Mall. Seifman said Bloomberg would need the Bronx Democrats' American Express, available from Reverend Ruben Diaz Senior.

  While at the UN there is discussion of a law pending in Uganda which would criminalize homosexuality, one wonders what the Reverend Diaz thinks of it. Inner City Press asked for Ban Ki-moon's position, and the first line was, "we have no specific opinion about domestic legislation" -- not true in the case of the cap and trade climate change proposals in the U.S. Congress. We will have more on this.

  While Mr. Ban stood next to a blinking disco ball and used a TV screen, Bloomberg handed out gifts, for example a "Spanish by Bloomberg" dictionary and a City University of New York football helmet for a reporter heading into academia at CUNY. Ban joked that as his spokesperson he has wanted this reporter, but ended up with Martin Nesirky.

  Nesirky, during his speech, said he had brought a gift from Austria: Mozart's golden balls, which he awarded to your truth for having, well, balls. Bloomberg's spokesman Stu Loeser joked that both his boss and Sarah Palin said that if God hadn't wanted people to eat animals, He wouldn't have made them out of meat.

 As he handed out gifts, Bloomberg joked that he can buy anything -- read, the election. Afterwards, a UN official to whom Inner City Press compared the two events noted that Bloomberg is a billionaire. Perhaps the jokes too were bought.

  The Gracie Mansion event avoided at least one obvious topic, Dominick Carter. Until recently the go-to TV show for NY politicians, now with the host convicted of domestic violence / attempted assault, there's a pothole on the Road to City Hall. Why no reference? Why no jokes? We will try to find out, watch this site.

Update: on Friday morning in the UN General Assembly basement, the gift, book and coffee shops were closed, yellow "Caution" tape blocking the way, sheet plastic flapping. Visitors wandered around asking Inner City Press why the shops were closed. We will seek an on the record answer.

Footnote review:
At Fordham Plaza, the Chinese food stall is gone. In its place is "Plaza Buffet," which frankly needs some work. During a recent visit, the woman behind the counter repeatedly handed a customer -- not this one -- a paper bag with grease on the handle. Give me a new bag, the customer said. But, clearly not king, the same greasy bag was proffered again and again.

Whatever the dished being offered are, you can't see them through the steamed up glass.

Inner City Press, in candor, ordered a chicken empanada. While only one dollar, it was cold, strangely red inside, and an hour later there was a stomach ache. Calling the Department of Health....

December 7, 2009

In the Philippines, a denial that the Mindinao massacre shows a "culture impunity" contains the snark that "such a generalization by the international media is unfair, considering the culture of impunity prevalent in... the Bronx, Somalia, etc." Click here for Inner City Press' coverage of the Somali Mission to the UN.
The FDIC's study of the un- and under-banked, released last week, was heard around the world,  including with Inner City Press about The Bronx, via the Financial Times, here.

November 30, 2009

One in every 1,767 homes in Bronx County received a foreclosure filing in September 2009, according to RealtyTrac.com ...

Thanksgiving question "what about the 150 workers at the Stella D'Oro cookie factory in the Bronx? They lost their jobs and their healthcare when a company owned in part by Goldman Sachs bought Stella D'Oro and closed the factory down."

November 23, 2009

What's called the Little Italy of The Bronx, Arthur Avenue between 188th and 183rd Street, is now festooned with red and black Albanian flags. They appeared suddenly on lamp poles. Actual Italian residents of Belmont have been in decline for years, residentially replaced primarily by Latinos, and by Balkan social clubs. Still, are the Albanian flags a turning point? So far, none of the Italian push back that would have followed any Hispanic nations' flags going up on the Little Italy strip...

November 16, 2009

The NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) on November 9 held a public hearing at Hostos Community College on its plan to use eminent domain to widen the Major Deegan Expressway by two lanes between E. 138th Street and the Macombs Dam Bridge. Despite pollution and the displacement of small businesses, they aim to push it through. We'll see.

November 9, 2009

Bronx-based foster care agency Family Support Systems is closing and laying off 92 staffers. The move comes aside funding cuts from the NYC Administration for Children's Services, according to a filing with the New York State Department of Labor. It's called the WARN Act. But what more does it portend?

November 2, 2009

October 31 in the Bronx has full of kids and screams, stores handing out candy from joint compound buckets, horror masks marked down by 20% on the day itself. There were Barack Obama masks, and downtown Richard Nixon. Lazy revelers just got orange prison overalls.

October 26, 2009

The New York Times' foray last week into West Africans in Claremont / Webster Avenue not only mistakenly said French is spoken in The Gambia (the Francophonies could only wish) -- it also missed the African - Caribbean dynamic. Why, is not clear, since the article itself reports that there are more Latino than African residents in Claremont. Could it be because the two groups get along? Take the stretch of Webster, referred to in the article, with African videos on the east side, Spanish (and African) restaurants on the west: the two co-exist, competing only for parking spots. But that's not news...

Also on the restaurant front, we must now report that the innovative but short lived Belmont Cafe has gone belly up, a For Rent sign on its rolling metal gate. It had cheap burgers and fries and bubble tea, and an order-in-advance African chicken dish. But it never stuck to its hours, and ultimately no one could count on it. And now it is gone...

October 19, 2009

  From Fordham, according to Douglas S. Massey, Ph.D., a new sort of separation is taking its place, with money taking the place of skin color. Massey, the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, presented “The Changing Bases of American Segregation” at Fordham's Rose Hill campus on Wednesday, Oct. 14. His lecture was the first annual urban studies lecture, and coincides with the inauguration of Fordham’s Urban Studies Master’s program."
 
    But right on Rose Hill on October 17, on Fordham's Bronx campus snaked a line of nearly entirely people of color, as nearly all white students walked by. Segregation indeed...

This week, again a new restaurant review. Michael Angelo's has opened in what used to be a bakery, on the now college claimed corner of 189th and Arthur. Its sign advertises wood burning stove pizza, but once inside the prices are decidedly upscale, in light with Roberto's and its wood burning affiliate with the little clown car in front, but still not authentic enough to justify it. It remains Italian American food, even with the "candle lit wine cellar" and Italian pop music. They either have to take the level of the food up, or drop the prices, a better plan given the location. We'll see.

October 12, 2009

From a comic book review: "the Bronx no longer looks the way it’s shown briefly in the comic. I’m not offended. It just made me chuckle that the creative team portrayed the Bronx the way it looked in the 1970s and not the way it looks now. I still wouldn’t raise my kids there, but it has gotten better." Thanks...

October 5, 2009

The U.S. Post Service, in the Bronx, is looking to close seven branches: Botanical, Clason Point, Crotona Park, Hillside, Melcourt, Oak Point and Van Nest. These are 17% of the Bronx' post offices and six of the seven are a full half mile from the "replacement" branches. If a bank make these cuts, one could protest to federal regulators. But when the Fed's themselves are cutting?

September 28, 2009

The Hartford Courant, writing about New Britain, jibed that "the two sagging old houses along South Main look like a little slice of the South Bronx." Thanks, guys...

September 21, 2009

From the police blotter:

THURS, AUG. 27th, 11:40 p.m. – Belmont Ave. and East 189 St. Officials indicated that no one was injured as results of shots being fired in the Belmont community. Responding police officers checked the area, but were unable to local any victims. Police did recover evidence that supported the original report.

We wuz there -- the Emergency Services police pulled up the sewer grate while a mother with a baby in a stroller jaw boned the officers....

September 14, 2009

A recent trip down Southern Boulevard and across 149th Street found continuity -- for example the still abandoned building on Jackson Avenue just below 149th -- amid change, the proliferation of Children's Aid Society offices along Southern Boulevard around Jennings Street. The Gaseteria where Southern meet 149 is still vacant and burned out. Just north there's a coffee shop with a sign, "SUNKIN DONUTS," in a strangely familiar font...

September 7, 2009

What kind of New Yorker is "The New Yorker" (for)? In recent weeks, they've run a near 100% pro Bloomberg profile, and now a hit job on the teachers' union. On national politics, the r/mag is knee jerk liberal. But in New York?

Smaller picture in Belmont, The Bronx, we can report the inclusion of Salvadoran arepas on the menu of the Empanada Company on Hughes and 187. Meanwhile the Ecuadorean restaurant on Hughes and Crescent appears to have done belly-up. Maybe having a menu would have helped....

August 31, 2009

   From the Department of "A Plague on Both Their Houses," we have this from Kingsbridge: some are pushing for a Community Benefits Agreement with the Related Companies for the Kingsbridge Armory which would prohibit a supermarket from going into the site. This is clearly to protect the smaller supermarkets on Jerome and Kingsbridge and Fordham. Then again, the Related Companies displaced many small businesses further south at the Bronx Terminal Market, inking like the Yankees a weak fig leaf of a Community Benefits Agreement. What's worse?
 
   Click here for this week's CRA report: on Obama and Bernanke at the Federal Reserve

August 24, 2009 --On Iran and Vendex, Sudan to No Bid Contracts, NYC Comptroller Candidates Square Off

By Matthew R. Lee

NEW YORK, August 19 -- Veering from issues of no bid contracts and corporate background checks, four candidates New York City Comptroller were asked by Inner City Press on Thursday morning if in investing City funds they would bar or penalize companies engaged in predatory lending, or which do business in Sudan, Sri Lanka, Burma or Iran. This being NYC, and all four candidates Democratic members of the City Council, the answers ranged from "yes" to "of course," with a few differences.

  Melinda Katz said that seven years ago, she proposed such a ban on companies "having anything to do with Hamas or Hezbollah." She added that when current Comptrollers Thompson and DiNapoli proposed divestment regarding Sudan and Iran, she applauded them. All four which she named are Islamic, unlike Burma and Sri Lanka were which asked about but ignored.

  John Liu also avoided mentioning the two Asian countries, along he answered generically about human rights violators. He expanded the question to companies with abusive human resources practices, and those which took Federal bailout funds and still pay huge bonuses to their executives.

  David Weprin said he was an early proponent of divestment in Sudan and Iran, based on genocide and terrorism respectively. He cited the precedent of the campaign against apartheid. He also reminded the audience that under Mario Cuomo he was a deputy superintendent of banks for New York State, and required in-state checks to clear in three days.

  David Yassky, who began the morning's debate by touting his endorsement by Felix Rohatyn, said he sponsored a ban on Sudan, and co-sponsored one on Iran. He said that the City should invest in companies whose profitability came from such places. As such, at least he admitted all moral decisions cannot be defended as economically best as well. Similarly, to an audience of human services professionals, he said that he is against member items in which Council members direct funds to specific groups.

   The event, held in the auditorium of PricewaterhouseCoopers on Madison Avenue, was co-sponsored by the United Way and the Human Services Council, and the other questions were focused on how slow the City is to disburse contract awards to non-profits and how burdensome the City's VENDEX background check is. John Liu joked that the audience seemed tired because they'll stayed up the night before filling out VENDEX forms. There was polite laughter and then the event was over.

Footnote: back in December 2007, Inner City Press put a similar question to Adolf Carrion, who had just announced he would run not for Mayor but Comptroller. Carrion said he would "also take into consideration the return for pensioners" -- click here for that story.

August 17, 2009

The USPS wants to close eight post offices in the Bronx: HUB -- Inner City Press' first PO Box in The Bronx -- Clason Point, Crotona Park, Hillside, Melcourt, Oak Point, Van Next and Botanical. The last of these is being fought, by senior who face walking from 200 to 188 Street. Click here for Inner City Press story about foreseeable closing of Post Office in the United Nations, and associated transit disparities.

A block south on 187, there is a new juice bar between Arthur and Hoffman -- we recommend the smoothie de mamey -- and the Empanada Factory on Hughes is coming along, with the manager cranking out new dishes while bragging of his 15 years in fine dining, mixing it with cheese steak flavor to bring the Fordham students in. He says they'll offer online ordering soon...


August 10, 2009

Once again, a new restaurant in Belmont, on 186th between the library at Hughes Avenue and Belmont Avenue: La Casita Poblana. The space used to be a garage. Now it has four tables, and a cooler full of Mexican sodas. There are Arabe tacos for $2.50, sopes and gorditas, a fine avocado salad for $4.50. The demographics of Belmont are changing, and the food along with it.

August 3, 2009

After the weekend's shootout between police and Sevilla Moran's on Southern Boulevard, the police "recovered a handgun near his body. 'This is as clean as it gets,' said a police source at the scene." Yeah -- except for all the blood...

July 27, 2009

The old and new Bronx coexist in Belmont. Example of the former is the fire in the building on the corner of 187 and Cambrelleng, apartment windows boarded up with plywood, Albanian grocery in the storefront closed down, at least for now. Meanwhile a much more expensive storefront is opening, out on Third Avenue and 189 -- the chain Applebee's has a spot in Fordham Plaza, and has a hiring center, but only for grill cooks with two years experience. So much for helping the neighborhood....

July 20, 2009

On 187th Street, there's the second street fair of the summer, complete with a ride called the Berry Go Round and a stand handing out Right to Life literature of the type found, in every season, in Borgatti's Ravioli. A new entry on Arthur Avenue is "Frankie's Franks," which serves up dogs on Addeo's pizza bread -- i.e. the loaf shaped like a donut -- with peppers, onions and potatos, all for less then four dollars, the price of eggs, toast, potatoes and coffee, all day long. We wish them well.

July 13, 2009

The asphalt playground and handball court on 188th Street and Bathgate Avenue has been padlocked in the middle of the summer as a crew of only four workmen slowly jackhammer holes in it. The park is usually daily used by both adults and children, from a youth club on 189th Street. Why the City scheduled this work at the height of summer, and chose a company that is sending such a small crew -- making the job take longer -- is not clear...

July 6, 2009

Last week the City Council rubber stamped a 30-block rezoning of the lower Grand Concourse in the Bronx, claiming it will bring as much as 841,000 square feet of new commercial uses and "facilitate the development of 3,100 new housing units, 520 of which will be affordable." -- a far too low a percentage of affordable housing for a development in the South Bronx. It it (and the nabe?) LoCo...

June 29, 2009

When Mayor Mike Bloomberg rolled up to the park across First Avenue from the UN on June 23, he had climate change on his mind. But the Press questions quickly turned not only to the lack of safety in the UN's buildings and their fix-up, but also to the Bronx. Inner City Press asked for his response to the declining business of Bronx merchants near Yankee Stadium, despite the massive city subsidy to the facility. Bloomberg said that they might want to start selling other merchandise. Just another modality of gentrification?

June 21, 2009

Not only is the new Yankee Stadium too expensive for Bronxites (and others), not only have they failed to replace the park land they took away -- now the small promises of small business benefits are turning out to be false. Store owners around the stadium complain that they get fewer customers than last year. The Yankees try to lure them into their branded maw of Hard Rock Cafe and "official" merchandise. Few venture even a half block south of 161st Street. Who will be held accountable?

June 15, 2009

Despite the rainy weather, the sign that summer has arrived in Belmont, The Bronx is the St. Anthony Street Fair. In the drizzle on June 13, a band played while from plywood stands in front of Mount Carmel church frozen drinks were sold, zeppoles topped with powdered sugar, goldfish could be won. Who can know who will come each year to this "Feast"? On the corner of Hughes Avenue, the Albanian restaurant has closed, replaced by Mexican, the New York Empanada Factory. It looked empty and forlorn behind its "Grand Opening" plastic banner, but we predict that won't be for long. Unless they're too white bread. In the Bronx, you can forget the cross-over audience. Make your business on your people -- other than the Chinese, of course. If others come, it's a bonus.

June 8, 2009

In Washington, in the wake of the predatory lending meltdown, there is a Community Reinvestment Act modernization bill. And in the Bronx, there are thos who woder why Eliot Engel is not listed as a sponsor....

June 1, 2009

The "South Bronx" was all over the news last week, not only because of the Yankees, but in the flurry of coverage of the nomination to the Supreme Court of Sonia Sotomayor, described as growing up in "a housing project in the South Bronx." Some here, however, note that the Bronxdale Houses are not in the South Bronx as it is often defined, as Community Planning Districts 1-6, stopping on the Western shore of the Bronx River. The Bronxdale Houses are on the other side of the river. But that's an inconvenient fact, and therefore ignored...

May 25, 2009

The Cross-Bronx Expressway, despite the local damage it has caused it apparently here to stay. But the fight to demolish the Sheridan Expressway is gathering force, and appears in PBS' "Road to the Future" show along with bicycle issues. Inner City Press, passing through Copenhagen, Denmark, finds the comparison with the Bronx and New York City striking. In Copenhagen there are bikes everywhere, and people even leave them unlocked. There are bike lanes that are respected. In the Bronx, Inner City Press has been harassed by police for momentarily riding a bike on an otherwise empty sidewalk. In Denmark, it's bikes that have the right of way....

May 18, 2009

In the run-up to reviewing the Yankees' new monument to greed, Inner City Press last week ventured to Citi – or TARP – Field in Queens, for the Mets against the Braves. Best is that you can stand behind home plate, even if your ticket's in the upper deck. The hot dogs are pricey, but the onions and sauerkraut are hot. From above right field you can see Manhattan. Soon we will compare the Yankees.

For now in the Bronx, there's a new Mexican restaurant on 186th Street by Hughes, in a former mechanics garage. Go, Puebla

May 11, 2009

This week again a restaurant review: the Belmont Cafe on 187th and Beaumont has dollar fifty burger (well, mini-burgers) and, a first for Belmont, bubble tea. It promises African style chicken, but twice as failed to have it. It has photographs of Fordham, including when the Third Avenue El was still standing. It's well worth it, for a dollar fifty...

May 4, 2009

This week, a poem on immigration, datelined not the Bronx but across the river(s) in Astoria Heights:

Breakfast of Champions
by Matthew Lee, (c) 2009

In front of the paint store
two blocks east of Steinway
two dozen Mexican men with backpacks
stand waiting for work

Some are old and some are beaten
still when they order tamales
at Casilda's taco stand
the girl calls them “campeon” --

Champion, is what it means, champion of immigration
who braved the freight trains from Oaxaca
the muggers and rapists of Juarez and Chihuahua
arriving here in Queens to stand again and wait

The city's hardly building
the yuppies all tapped out
and so the wait is longer
and the tacos more expensive

April 27, 2009

   We need an explanation: the 4 train, usually local late at night, says it's going express. But in The Bronx, it jumps from 149 Grand Concourse to Burnside -- then all the way to Woodlawn. What happened to Fordham Road?

And a citywide MTA beef: using an unlimited MetroCard, you're prohibited from using it in less than 18 minutes.But if you rode one stop, you could easily need to use the card again within 18 minutes. What gives?

April 20, 2009

Spin war: "We're surprised and disappointed that Curtis Sliwa is attempting to sell tours that capitalize on the worst stereotypes about the Bronx," said Rafael Salaberrios, chairman of the Bronx Tourism Council. Salaberrios said tourists should instead be pointed to attractions such as the Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Garden and Yankee Stadium, as well as the borough's lesser-known museums, galleries and restaurants.

The Bronx Zoo closed down its tram service. Yankee Stadium is wildly overpriced and stole parkland -- but Yankee fans about to see them lose by twenty runs on April 18 poured mucho dinero into dining on Arthur Avenue before and after the game. Trattoria Zero Otto Nove, the Roberto's spin-off in what used to be McDonald's is, upon review, amazing, with a faux Italian street scene in the back complete with fake windows and brick arches with intentionally peeling stucco. Fusilli, rabbit and carafes of wine: what could be better? But very few local people go.

April 13, 2009

  Let's compare, this week, the Bronx and Bushwick, Brooklyn. A recent visit to the latter found the previously burned-down Broadway still  rough and tumble, from Fat Albert's on Flushing to cuchifritos further out on Myrtle. But two blocks north of Broadway are knitware factories turned into lofts. On Broadway itself, a white hipster with dreadlocks was ridiculed by local teens.

  Back in the Bronx, other than in Mott Haven, no such influx has taken place. Is it the distance from Manhattan, or the reputation for higher crime? Do Bushwick's long-time residents benefit from the lofts, or only see their rents raised? We will continue to compare.

April 6, 2009

   Facing off in debate for Bronx Borough Presidency at 1200 Waters Place on April 8 at 7 pm  are Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. and Anthony Ribustello...

March 30, 2009 -- annals of environmental justice: the president of the Sierra Club wrote in the New York Times, March 26, that "We offer at-risk young people in the Bronx their first wilderness experience."  No, we have some wilderness right here in The Bronx...

March 23, 2009

  We take note this week of the re-start of Columbia Journalism School's Bronx Beat publication. Before even getting to a substantive critique -- we'll get there, rest assured -- something seems to be wrong. From their website, clicking on an article seemingly about foreclosures leads to a page of ads hosted by Go Daddy and, as an aside, the hard copies mailed to Inner City Press now used the wrong PO Box - it's 580188. What's happened, over the winter? Our overall critique is that there's not enough follow up from year to year. But this is too much.

March 16, 2009

  For a Bronx study by ICP Fair Finance Watch, see http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2009/03/09/2009-03-09_the_south_bronx_is_a_banking_wasteland.html
 
  See also the readers' comments on that page. There's a need for work on and under the Community Reinvestment Act, and about JPM Chase's moves to close former Washington Mutual branches...

  Click here for an Inner City Press debate last week from Washington, here about AIG's secret bailout beneficiaries...

March 9, 2009

   Some neighbor -- the Botanical Garden, which previously sued saying that a radio town across Southern Boulevant from it was an eyesore, now owns an eyesore of its own, a vacant lot on Webster and Bedford Park Avenues on which it said it would build a parking lot. But now the funding's in doubt, and the lot is sitting there. The Garden asks for understanding. But did the Garden show it?

March 2, 2009

   Lies, damn lies and statistics: from the suburbs to the North, "Frederick Arnold, a resident of the Town of Mamaroneck since 1995, is a “numbers guy” and the newly elected president of the board of RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest organization working to prevent sexual assault and help victims of this crime. 'the incidence of crime is as high in Larchmont, per capita as it is in the South Bronx,'" he said. Some "numbers guy"...

   Oh really? It's reported that "there were cheers in the South Bronx, where there is hardly an Indian-American to be seen, when Slumdog Millionaire won the best-picture Oscar." Funny, we didn't hear them...

February 23, 2009

  Months ago we wrote on a practice of Metro North Railroad, in which trains from Connecticut stop at the Fordham Road station in the Bronx but announce that while passengers can get off, no one can get on. This is true even for customers who have paid Metro North for a monthly pass between Fordham Road and 125th Street or Grand Central. Inner City Press got on, and was told by a conductor to "go argue with the MTA big shots" about the policy's absurdity.  And so we did. 

  At a public meeting of the MTA in its headquarters on Madison Avenue in March 2008, Inner City Press informed the board of directors of the policy, and of its impact on Bronx residents. Some members laughed, others expressed surprise. Then-chief Peter Cannito explained the practice in financial terms: the State of Connecticut pays 60% of the cost of the red New Haven line trains. Apparently, even within the MTA, they had and have found no way to transfer money from the New York State Harlem line, which also stops at the Fordham Station, and the Connecticut New Haven Line.

  With even some of his board members shaking their heads at this inefficiency, Cannito told Inner City Press things were not as bad as its testimony described. You can get on the train, he said, and just pay the extra fare between Fordham and the previous stop on the New Haven line, Mount Vernon East. Inner City Press bought a ticket for just this purpose.

   On February 20, with the 9:16 Harlem line train running late, a red New Haven line train pulled into Fordham Station. Inner City Press got on. The conductor announced over the public address system, "This train takes no passengers." Those in the bar car in which Inner City Press had sat down rolled their eyes. Inner City Press started walking toward the front car with the conductor in it, but the train pulled out of the station. Inner City Press returned to the bar car.

  The conductor came through the train and said, "I told you to get off." Inner City Press explained what the head of the MTA said at the public meeting. "Do you got that in writing?" the conductor demanded. No, the head of the company said it. "What was his name?"  The last Metro North chief, the Italian guy.

  "Well this Italian guy never heard of that order. What is my job?"

  Inner City Press waited to hear. Several others in the car looked concerned.

  "I'm the conductor. I'm supposed to enforce the rules. If I don't they crack down on me. I was out on the street for twenty days, supposedly assaulting a customer. They give us these hand held computers that freeze up all the time, then write us up if we don't collect fares with them, even when they're not working." He paused, looking like he might throw the hand-held computer, somehow reminiscent of the model in the NYC Parking Violations Bureau scandal, also with Bronx connections, years ago. "You tell me the big shots said you could do this. Do you have a letter that says that?"

  It seemed fair to assume that what the head of Metro North said was the policy was in fact the policy.

  "Yeah right," the conductor said. "What was his name, then, this Italian guy?"

  "Peter, something. Peter C--"

  "Oh, Cannito. His son in law made this software for this stupid computer that freezes up all the time. Great. Cannito told you." The conductor stormed out of the car. Welcome to Metro North.

Footnote: while a half dozen people in the car spoke against the Metro North practice, after the conductor left, one working man pointed out, you put him in a tough spot, you should have gotten off the train and put in for a refund, or get a letter from Metro North. Suggestions and reactions welcome.

February 16, 2009

  At Inner City Press, we usually review restaurant on the affordable or even sidewalk side. But we're compelled to note Zero Otto Nove, a so-called trattoria on Arthur Avenue where the ill-fated McDonald's used to be. For some months, seeing a near-empty bar in the front behind a light blue clown car on the street outside, one assumed the restaurant was having trouble. Dead wrong.  Inside, down a long corridor, is what resembles a side street in an Italian village, complete with fake windows and perspectives, a staircase up to a second floor, all under a skylight. At night candle come out, adding to the flicker from the wood pizza oven. There's light-fried zucchini, pasta with chick peas and bread crumbs, rabbit stew and more. Beware of what they call a carafe of wine: it's really a pitcher, costs $25 and leaves one staggering out afterwards. The lemon sherbet is tart, the coffee strong, Roberto's restaurant a success. The main thing lacking was Bronxites, something we hereby try to address.

  Nearly, on February 1st:

2-1, 12:30 a.m. – 2407 Beaumont Ave. Police were alerted that a man had been shot numerous times. The unidentified victim was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital in stable condition. Local sleuths will conduct the inquiry.
2-1, 1:35 p.m. – 922 East Tremont Ave. A search was conducted for a middle aged Hispanic male. Victims believe that the male Latino is in his 50’s who robbed a store at gunpoint. An unknown amount of money was taken, but no injuries were reported.

February 9, 2009

  As the Bronx Zoo opens a Madagascar-themed exhibit, in the real Madagascar, security forces fired into crowds of protesters, killing 25... And the Skyfari has been discontinued forever.

  New York Magazine reviews city restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens -- only.

February 2, 2009

  The Bronx makes an appearance in Kuala Lumpur: Posh Condominiums In Slum Area?

"You nak buat kondo di slum area?" (You want to build condominiums in a slum area?). Raised eyebrows accompanied those words when real-estate developer Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Ibrahim told a friend of his plans to build a block of condominiums in Kampung Baru, a Malay settlement located at the heart of the city... Abdul Rahim's friends had labeled Kampung Baru in the same mould as Bronx, a slum area in the north of New York populated mostly by the colored communities and they were skeptical whether there would be buyers for the condominiums. Today, they have to eat their words as the condominium units are selling like hot cakes. The public knows that Kampung Baru is not a squatter settlement as the area was carved out as a Malay settlement in 1899 and known as the Malay Agriculture Settlement."

 As we reported last spring, Key Food, in the mall at Bruckner Blvd. and White Plains Road, announced that landlord Vornado Realty was increasing its rent. DN: "The rent increase was scheduled to take effect in December, when the lease expired. But Vornado has not begun any eviction action, which Purcell and others speculate is because of the souring rental market." Yep...

January 26, 2009

  In the wake of the US Air flight from LaGuardia to Charlotte driving into the Hudson River by a flock of geese, the Bronx connection slowly becomes clear. The day of the crash, a girl from Belmont in The Bronx called in to say she'd seen the plane's engines explode. It seemed incongruous, since the plane landed off the shore of midtown Manhattan. But later it emerged that as the plane curved over The Bronx, reported over the Zoo, it hit a flock of geese and began falling. There's been talk of hunting down geese in the area to avoid a repetition.

  On Saturday, January 24 on Fordham University's grass circle a flock of geese lazed around on the snow, with nary a hunter in sight....

  JPMorgan Chase will be closing a slew of Washington Mutual branches, click here for Inner City Press' January 23 article...

January 19, 2009

  Here are properties in The Bronx on which Wells Fargo has foreclosed:

  2096 RYER AVE BRONX 2862 Multi-family $374,900 N

  5730 POST ROAD BRONX 1809 Multi-family $599,000 N

  605 WALES AVE BRONX 2700 Duplex TBD N

  2194 WASHINGTON AVE BRONX 2403 Multi-family $325,000 N

  4027 EDSON AVE UNIT 1 & 2 BRONX 1848 Duplex $339,900 N

  2782 CRESTON AVE BRONX 2000 Multi-family TBD N

   The new pizzeria on lower Arthur Avenue, with the garlic knots and free Internet, has already failed. In its place is a sign to look out for Frankie's Frank, the "Italian" hot dog.  Will it fare any better?

  Meanwhile in the same nabe, a recent arrival asked in the Mount Carmel post office on January 17 how to get his mail. Go to Tremont, he was told. Where's that? And the person working at the window, and the supervisor on duty, said they didn't know. Welcome to The Bronx...

January 12, 2009

  As the Bloomberg Administration tries to gentrify the South Bronx, a recent visit to Bushwick in Brooklyn found both the brutality and banality of what has happened in the often similar place. Take the L train seven stop in, to Jefferson and Wyckoff. Competing the restaurants like Las Palmas on the corner of  Starr are chic cafes like the North East Kingdom -- apparently named after the top part of Vermont -- and a music venue known as the Bushwick Starr, in the second floor of a former factory building at 207 Starr Street. Inside on a black-painted stage four youth men are thrashing; the band is called Drew and the Medicinal Pen. In front an entirely white crowd of young twenty-somethings jump up and down. Generally, their rents are paid by parents. Perhaps some of them will be artists, many however will not. But the impact on rent levels, on the economist ecosystem of Bushwick, will stay long after they leave. To Bloomberg, this may be progress. To locals it is harmful, it is unfair, it is reason against a third term. 

  Going forward, we look back to the Bronx and elsewhere in the city...

January 5, 2009

  This week Mayor Bloomberg said that if someone attacked you or your family, he'd want the NYPD to respond with everything they had. While in the South Bronx, NYPD officers beat up the Serrano family on Brook Avenue, Bloomberg flew to the Middle East in a "show of solidarity." Click here for Inner City Press' January 3 coverage of that region.

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

December 29, 2008

  Annals of New York's Strongest --

WED, DEC. 10th, 9:00 a.m. – 1003 Woodycrest Ave. In the Highbridge section, local police arrested a city worker. A sanitation worker was taken into custody after a civilian informed officers that the city worker struck the victim with a stick after they had a verbal dispute.

TUES, DEC. 16th, 11:00 a.m. – Tiebout Ave. and East 183 St. Another city worker was taken into custody by patrol officers. This time a city Sanitation employee was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated.

December 22, 2008

  We've done it before, and we'll do it again -- the Ecuadorian restaurant on Hughes Ave and 186th Street stands alone, both for refusing to have a menu, and for ultimately serving up cooking that makes up for it. Most recently the dish of the day was bistek with papers, yellow rice with a friend egg on top, and French fries. The quesadillas were spicy, with chicken. The "sopa de bolas" was, in fact, dominated by a ball made of green plantains, peas and boiled egg, sort of like a stew made of pastelles. Outside, they sold steaming tamales on the icy sidewalk. 

  Of Bronx and NYC housing officials slated to move on to DC, we'll have more over the holiday. Happy holidays!  Viva Ecuador!

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

December 15, 2008 

   St. Barnabas Hospital is bragging that even in the face of the financial meltdown, it still plans to spend $30 million building a parking garage. Of course, in the past this project was blocked because St. Barnabas could not even spring for lights for kids who use the sports fields on Quarry Road behind the hospital. But the activist who led that community fight-back has since passed away, and now St. Barnabas says it's ready to move forward. We'll see.

  In the political orbit, Carrion's gun-jumping speech that he was offered the HUD head job is disproved by the Shaun Donovan news. Beyond Prudential, Donovan has something of a sidelight in the evictions trade -- more on this anon.

December 8, 2008

  Given the difficulty that long-time South Bronx residents are facing in keeping up with rising rents, how could an executive of a non-profit purportedly working for the interest of such people offer unqualified praise for "upscale" real estate investment in area? Oh but it has happened, in the December 5 Daily News: "Peter Cantillo, president of SEBCO Development, a group that has been building affordable housing in the neighborhood since 1968 [said] 'The Bank Note is exactly the kind of upscale draw this neighborhood has worked toward.'" Speak for yourself...

December 1, 2008

  Metro North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders was quoted last week that "Metro-North would love to run some of its Hudson Line trains across the Spuyten Duyvil and down the Amtrak rails on the West Side to Penn Station, not to mention running some New Haven Line trains on Amtrak rails through the underserved East Bronx to Penn Station... Metro-North has had a feasibility study for such a project partly done for some time."

   Hey, if Metro North so badly wants to serve the "underserved" Bronx, why does it persist in having its New Haven Line trains stop at Fordham Road only to discharge but not pick up passengers? This outrage continues, the book-keeping and other excuses have not been addressed...

  Two other 'Net notes: the Detroit "Campus Martius conservancyhired Egan Acres Farms in the Bronx, which specializes in jumbos. The tree is donated from a private home in New Paltz, N.Y. near Poughkeepsie."  So what, a Bronx-business providing Poughkeepsie trees to Michigan?

  An Ethnic Food Examiner says "Bronx: in all fairness, I don't think I've been to the Bronx more than 10 times. It's got a fabulous zoo. (is that considered ethnic?). According to my sources, you can hit a double in the Tremont area of the Bronx: Ecuadorian (and other Hispanics), and Ghanan." But the link to Ghanian is hardly limited to that country; the link to Ecuador is in fact about bachata, and says of
Claridad Restaurant, 373 E. 188th St.Bronx, NY, "Occasional local acts; call to find out; seedy atmosphere."  Seedy is in the eye of the beholder...

November 24, 2008

  The New York Times of November 18, aiming now at the commercial gentrification of Port Morris in the South Bronx, reported that "part of the area’s appeal is its access to transportation. Neil Pariser, a senior vice president of the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit group that has renovated factories and apartment buildings in the area, said, 'Port Morris has unusually excellent vehicular access for trucks and even good mass transit' — the No. 6 and No. 2 subways."  But the Number 2, a West Side train, hardly serves Port Morris...

November 10, 2008

  Every single Bronx Councilmember voted to roll back the twice publicly-enacted term limits...

  It's not just that the New York Times promotes gentrification -- it's that they don't even mention that it exists. That is, they just don't care, even about basic journalistic balance. From last Sunday's Times:

Leila Abdoulaye sublets a friend's loft in an old piano factory in the South Bronx, and she need never worry about repairs. Her building, called the Clock Tower, has a 24-hour superintendent.

Ms. Abdoulaye, a 25-year-old student and model who also works as a restaurant office manager, pays $700 a month for her room. She shares the apartment with a rotating stream of models. Ms. Abdoulaye minds the store, as it were, between work and classes.

''It's the quality of the place, the price of the apartment, and the social life,'' Ms. Abdoulaye says. ''It's a nice place to live. A happy place to live.''

Daniel Lundby, 32, an out-of-work designer from Iowa, also lives in the Clock Tower, sharing a bright, open space with a roommate.

When he moved to New York City, he lived in a tiny sublet on the Upper East Side. ''Now,'' Mr. Lundby said, ''I have three times the space for the same price.'' His rent has risen about $100 a year since he moved in more than four years ago, but he says he is satisfied. ''I think I'm still getting a decent deal.

  Not for long... And the November 9 Times mentions The Bronx, a county of over 1 million people in the Times' home city, only 11 times, and even these are oblique: mentions in Mount Vernon, from "Snarky Gulch" and Riverdale. For shame...

 And see this November 7 debate: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/15731#

November 3, 2008

  As New York City set up for the Marathon on November 2, cars along First Avenue in East Harlem were getting towed, and the Bx 15 bus to the Bronx was radically re-routed, turning north on Lenox and leaving Park, Lexington and Avenidas Tres, Dos y Uno unserviced.  The runners barely touched The Bronx, despite all the hype about its fix-up.

  Meanwhile in Belmont, we return against to Estrellita Poblana III on lower Arthur Ave, where the caldo de chivo, goat soup, is well-worth its six dollar price. The tortillas are hot and at noon on the day of the marathon, it was full of duos of Mexican men in their Sunday best, some drinking Tecate and others Mexican Coca-Cola, with the pure cane sugar, taking digital photos of each other to send back south of the border. Look, mama, I'm making it in New York. Even during the financial crisis...

  And see Inner City Press' interview with Joseph Stiglitz, in this week's CRA Report, www.innercitypress.org/crreport.html

October 27, 2008

  Staying small bore but indicative, on Belmont above 189th a new store has opened, with baseball caps including multicolored camouflage, hip hop T-shirts and, as one Inner City Press source puts it, Ed Hardy hoodies for women and for men. The owners, who wear the caps they sell, built all contents of the storefront, but for the glass display. It's called E & J's, and just before a recent midnight, both E and J were there. We wish them well.

October 20, 2008

  In the Bronx we traipse around, for example on October 18 and 19, from the 4 train at Yankee Stadium over to the D, and thereafter north under the Concourse.

  Never say we don't follow-up: Angel's Ecuadorian Restaurant on Hughes Avenue and 184th has continued to improve, now with grilled tuna with platanos and avocado salad. Still no menu, and Angel hard of hearing -- but plaintains and tuna like this is not to be found elsewhere.

And see this Oct 17 (UN) debate, including Musing of One-Term Limit for Ban by Obama, at http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/15262# 

October 13, 2008

    We return because we must to the New York Times' misrepresentation of The Bronx. The October 12 Sunday paper mentions the Bronx 18 times, but entirely from the perceived POV of Times readers: Riverdale real estate, sculpture and cider in the Botanical Garden, two obituaries, "Kosher Wars," and oh yeah, a reference to hip hop. That's keeping it real...

  Click here for Inner City Press in Wash Post and Miami on CRA, here in Charlotte on the mergers, and here even praising the FDIC (on other grounds)

October 6, 2008

  There were Wanted posters up along East Tremont and Bathgate Avenues on October 4, about an armed robbery in Harrison, New York, offering $15,000. Some of the posters were torn down, but other were there. By Webster Avenue, there were no more. Call it narrow-casting.

  Also in terms of insular communities, now the "Bangladesh Plaza" neighborhood in Queens is echoed on a corner of The Bronx, 158 and Melrose, the Dkaka Discount, with the "Lotto" on the sign crossed out...

  The closing of R&S Strauss, we now surmise is related to the loss of parking created by the mad "Bx 12 Select" bus plan.

  Finally, new and second-time-around restaurant reviews: the new Arthur Avenue Pizza Co between 186 and 184 has high ceiling and free Internet but doesn't have beef patties...

  Meanwhile, a second visit to Angel's Ecuadorian restaurant on Hughes Avenue and 184th Street found the food still excellent, if not better, juice goat and rice, ceviche, tamales Ecuadorian style in a banana leaf -- but still no menu, and major communications problems. There few things more striking in a restaurant than one that doesn't produce the food you order, or that refuses to take an order, both of which happened here. A co-reviewer is hoping it's just a communications problem. Time will tell. But better goat and rice cannot be found in the Bronx...

September 29, 2008

Here's a crime that needs to be solved:

Fengwang Chen, 31, was ambushed as he tried to deliver a $22 order on E. 229th St. Saturday - what was supposed to have been his last day as a deliveryman for New China Garden, his wife said Sunday.

"He never picks a fight with anyone," Chen's wife, Yan Dong, said through an interpreter at Jacobi Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition.

The bullet that hit Chen, a father of two young children, entered behind his ear and lodged in his jaw. He is expected to survive.

The Chinese Restaurant Alliance has offered a $3,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the suspects, whom cops think may have lain in wait near a Williamsbridge home after placing an order for pork fried rice, chicken wings and French fries.

And see,
Subprime Stoked By Deregulation and Bipartisan Greed, not CRA,  Community Reinvestment Act

September 22, 2008

 More annals of Fordham Road -- while still awaiting local powers' spin on the closing of R & S Strauss, a reporter's recent pass-through the White Castle found, far from fast food, no one talking orders for foot traffic. Everything is directed at the drive-through customers. Some suburb...

September 15, 2008

  For some years, Inner City Press has noted the lack of a Fed Ex / Kinko's in the Bronx. Now last week, it was explained, thusly: "The primary factor in choosing locations is customer demand," said FedEx Office spokeswoman Jenny Robertson. "We look at the density of small and medium-size businesses. And there's never been a 'ruling out' of the Bronx. We are just looking at those communities that have greater customer penetration." So, over 1 million people is not dense enough?

  At deadline, we're told there is an explanation for, and even controversy around, the closing of the R & S Strauss auto parts on Fordham Road. If received, we will run it on this site.

September 8, 2008

  This year's Ferragosto street fair on Arthur Avenue had, as before, peaches and red wine, plums and white wine, $1.50 Italian ices from Artusos,  free samples of mozzerella -- and a cheesy and probably fraudulent presentation of "Florida Properties" complete with cartoon depictions of swampland. Like something out of the 1950s...

 Click here for new debate

September 1, 2008

  An Ecuadorian restaurant has opened on Crescent Avenue in The Bronx, with ceviche, goat and rice and that country's apple soda. The owner used to work for Arthur Avenue Catering and saved up cash. He's dubious about President Correa but attentive to the customers in his five-table storefront.  To chicken soup he'll add white rice to thicken it. The hot sauce is made of radishes and there is not yet a menu. But we are wishing them well.

  Meanwhile, gone from Fordham Road is the R & S Strauss auto parts store. What happened?

August 25, 2008

   On the corner of Webster and 188th, there are flowers and prayers surrounding a street lamp, marking where a driver with crumbling brakes crashed and killed a pregnant woman and, days later, her child who had initially been saved. There is a music store and a playground. Another area resident was nearly beaten to death by the side of this playground, in the course of a robbery. One block up there is a Carvel's ice cream store, and then the under renovation and expansion Sears.  Life, death and development continue in The Bronx.

Watch this site. And this (on South Ossetia), and this, on Russia-Georgia

August 18, 2008

 Talk about nitty-gritty. The MTA has announced, regarding the 149th Street Hub, that

The Bx55 will have a new turnaround when changing from southbound to northbound: traveling south on 3rd Avenue, east on East 146th Street, north on Willis Avenue, and then north on 3rd Avenue. This will eliminate the bus stop on Willis Avenue at the far side of East 148th Street and replace it with a new stop on 3rd Avenue at the near side of East 149th Street. All other stops remain the same.

The Bx15 northbound will remain on the current route to Willis Avenue, then travel north on 3rd Avenue and return to the current route. Southbound, it will travel south on 3rd Avenue (passing 148th Street), then east on East 146th Street, south on Willis Avenue and onto the current route.

The Bx41 will leave its terminal on East 147th Street traveling west, head north on 3rd Avenue, west on East 152nd Street, north on Melrose Avenue, then resume the current route. Southbound, the bus will travel south on Melrose Avenue, east on East 154th Street, south on Elton Avenue, then south on 3rd Avenue and continue on its current route.

  So what, no more Third-to-Melrose crosscutting by the Bx 41? How 'bout having the busses run on time?

August 11, 2008

  So the NY Times has whipped up dissatisfaction with how Hunts Point is described in WikiPedia, quoting one non-profit head as unwilling to make edit to the entry, another calling WikiMedia and asking them to make changes.  What happened to empowerment? And what of the use of the term Bronx for rough regions everywhere on else, for example in Jamaica?

August 4, 2008

   The pizzeria that opened earlier this year on Fordham Road across from White Castle, in a space formerly occupied by a club that was closed for under-aged drink, has itself already been shuttered. We hardly knew ye...

July 28, 2008

 Sadly we report that the oddly-placed Argentine coffee shop on Webster Avenue just north of the Cross Bronx Expressway has gone under, cut its name off the fabric awning, no more beef sandwiches...

  Now the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation "is inviting public comments" on

The New York Organic Fertilizer Company's plant began operations in 1993. Over the years, repeated complaints have been made about odors emanating from the facility. It has been the subject of two major DEC enforcement actions during that period. In recent months, DEC has developed a new strategy to address the odor issues associated with the plant, and it is inviting public comments on its plans.

  Want a comment? Shut it down...

July 21, 2008  A Bronx Juror's Eye View: Gypsy Cab Whip Lash Crash 9 Years Ago Gets 1-Day Trial, by Matthew R. Lee of Inner City Press

            The word now in the jurors' waiting room in The Bronx is that things are getting worse: the duty more frequent and each time for more days. There are at least two reasons, those who work there say. First, more and more cases are filed in The Bronx, because the county perceived as having poor and angry residents who award big damages. So for example when McDonald's was sued for making people obese -- and there are obese people all over -- The Bronx was chosen as the venue. Second, you have to be citizen and speak English to serve on a jury. These two characteristics have become less prevalent in The Bronx, as a clerk diplomatically puts it, even as the population has grown in the last decade.

            Put these two together, and those eligible for it have jury duty more often, and for more days. Unless you luck out, and can get selected for the jury in one of the new one-day trials.

            On a recent morning, this option was offered to early arrivals, and a long line quickly formed. Twenty two people were selected, and shuttled into a side room to fill out questionnaires.  Have you ever sued anyone? Have you or a family member ever worked in a law office? Then the 22 took elevators upstairs to Justice Yvonne Gonzalez' courtroom on the fourth floor. They sat on one side of the courtroom, reading, lounging, complaining about the too-strong air conditioning even on this hot day.  Ms. Gonzalez came in and smiled, went into the back. Five minutes later she re-emerged as a Justice, in black robe wearing glasses. "All rise!" the court officer said.

            "You don't have too," Justice Gonzalez said. "We're going to pick 12 of you and ask you some questions. The rest of you can wait."

  The first 12 were selected. Your witness was not, and cursed his luck. The questions got personal. What do you do, for work? What does your wife do? What exactly is a nutritional consultant? You choose patients' menus? Have the patients filed lawsuits? Do they talk to you about them?

  Two of the twelve admit they want to go to law school. They will not be chosen. An Asian woman tells a long story about a customer in the nail salon where she works, who hurt her shoulder in a car accident and constantly complains about it. She too will be asked to