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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 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

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:

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 -- 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


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:

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.

Follow @innercitypress Follow @FUNCA_info

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

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

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,

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; 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

  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

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 the proposed Bronx closures are


















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.”


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.”


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:

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 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 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 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 ...

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
  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:

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,

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 

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 leave, as this case is about a car crash, which injured a Ms. Filartiga -- not her real name.

  Now the two lawyers are getting to ask the questions. Really, they are trying to put ideas in potential jurors' minds, things they couldn't say once the trial begins. If a person doesn't look injured, can you accept that they are still in a lot of pain? I guess so.  Good, because that's Ms. Filartiga over there, and she's in pain. It's a sad looking old woman on the far side of the courtroom.  "She's doesn't speak English," we're told. They why do we have to? Even if you speak Spanish, you have to focus on what the interpreter says. And in this one-day trial, to save money no court recorder is present. There will only be your memory, and that should be focused on the interpreter.

   As jurors are stricken, your witness is called into the jury box. Questions are asked, to catch up with the others. Potential grounds for being stricken are disclosed. But the witness makes it, as Juror Number Seven, the alternate. The others are thanked for their service, and return to the jurors' waiting room for four more days of limbo.  Those lucky seven of the 22 who remain are told to order lunch, to be paid for by the court system. The alternate may or may not get fed, therefore the dollar tip does not have to be paid at this time.

            Triple decked roast beef and a diet Coke. Pickles? Why not. But how was the diner that gets all these court house orders selected? Was this to low bidder? The case begins, with opening statements. A taxi has been hit from behind, at University Avenue and McCombs Dam Road. The plaintiff was wearing a seat belt, but still be whipped back and forth. She has lost work since then, she has gone to many doctors. She will never be the same. She needs money.

  That's the plaintiff's lawyer's story. The defense lawyer, for two New Jerseyites who are not here, tells a counter tale. The plaintiff knew the cab driver, that's why he hasn't been sued. The cabby stopped short and with no notice, causing the crash. The plaintiff's own doctors reports, which will be distributed at the end, will show that her injuries are not serious. Okay, let's get it on.

  There is only one witness, Ms. Filartiga the plaintiff. It looks like she hasn't been prepared. She keeps interrupting her lawyer, staring off into space. Unprompted, she says she wasn't in fact wearing  seat belt.  Does that make her negligent?  Let's at least quantify and get some damages, her lawyers seems to decide. When did she work, after the accident? There was the perfume factory... But only in the summers... She's not sure. But after March 1999, when did she work?

  That's how it emerges, that this terrible important fender-bender took place more than nine years ago, and is only getting its one-day trial now. Why? How can it take nine years to hear this meager evidence? Did the defendants delay things hope Filartiga would die or move back to Santo Domingo? Did the plaintiffs' lawyer put the case to the back of the line as a small damages dog? The jury is never told. But no wonder no one can remember what happened that day, or afterwards.

   The lunch has arrived, and the case is still not over. Juror Seven will have roast beef after all. The seven are led up a staircase to a room with peeling paint. "Don't talk about the case," they're told. "Sports or fashion is okay." Out the window is Yankee Stadium, where the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby is to be held that night. The youngest juror, now wildly thumbing his Sidekick, says even the tickets to Home Run Derby are expensive. The sandwich, though free, is not good. Perhaps they really were the low bidders. A Hispanic woman, maybe in her 50s, calls her boss and says she'll be back at work tomorrow, she lucked into the one-day trial. After that the silence is deafening.  The one African-American on the jury, a large woman, gets up to go to the bathroom.

   Juror Seven, to pass the time and drown out the sound of flushing, says Major League Baseball is screwing The Bronx by having the parade in Manhattan, and the memorabilia show too. There's no response. Oh really. He tries again, saying how in his jury pool, everyone one wanted to get on the jury. In most cases, people are trying to get off, saying, "I can't be fair" or "I hate the police."  There are a few nods. Okay then, read the newspaper. In the corner of the room there's a stack of police accident reports, with drawings of automobiles and arrows for direction of impact. Could Filartiga's be in there?

  Okay it must be time to go back down. No, says a large woman who used to be a school principal.  "They come up and get us, I know this, I've done it before." She is white, and almost everyone else is Hispanic. She is ignored. Six of the seven creep down the stairs, where have metal mesh because criminal defendants are led this way too.  They peer into the empty courtroom.  Hey, the security officer says. "Go back upstairs."   The principal was right, looks vindicated. Are they settling the case? Ten more minutes pass.

  Finally they are led back into the courtroom, Juror Seven told to pick a spot in the second row. This is easy, this is fun. It will end today, they've said.  The jury is told the Ms. Filartiga was 53 when the crash happened. She's 62 now and it is estimated that she will live to 84. "That's an average, of course," the plaintiff's lawyer said, adding the word "actuarial."  She says, "You can decided how much each of her years will be worth." But can we? How?

   The plaintiff's lawyer has forgotten to make photocopies of her exhibits. There will be only one copy in the deliberations room. The defense has copies, which are passed out to each juror including Number Seven. The exhibits are pretty damning. A doctor says the pain is fake. The police report on the accident says the taxi stopped too fast. Then again, that was only what the Jerseyites said. But only they spoke with the police. Why hasn't the cabby come to the trial to testify? Why didn't the plaintiff's lawyer try to address this hole in her case?  Is the hope simply that six Bronx jurors, told a tale of a possible-hurt factory worker, will award millions of dollars?

  Why didn't someone -- say for example, the Jerseyites' insurance company -- simply give Ms. Filartiga 40 or 50 thousand dollars, back nine years ago, and leave it at that? Did Filartiga ask for more? Did the insurers refuse to pay, then made her wait nine years? This is the background we need, to weight the equities. But none of the jurors get that information, much less the Alternate, your witness, who is now told to go. There is no closure, as in real life. Good luck Ms. Filartiga, hope you make it to 84 or more.

* * *

We devote our Bronx Watch footnote this week to an anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation win, NWBCCC vindicated against landlords which claimed that tenant organizers interfered with their relationships with Washington Mutual bank. On July 7, Justice Sallie Manzanet denied the landlords' claim, triggering 11 days later a press release by the victorious lawyers. Hats off. But the press release doesn't saying anything about legal fees and costs...

July 14, 2008

  With the hype starting to swirl around the July 15 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, Major League Baseball did not respond to repeated inquiries from South Bronx media about covering the game.  Of course, the parade, concert and other events are all in Manhattan...

  In front of Mount Carmel Church on July 13, the John Duke / Newark Symphonic Band played tuba music as a priest led a march down 187th Street past frying sausages and bubble tea.

July 7, 2008

  In Belmont, now it's the Dolce Amaro restaurant, next to Modern's supermarket, that's been closed by inspectors, health and mental hygiene. The previously but only briefly closed Arthur Avenue Bakery is back open, this time seemingly legal, with a new inspection report in the window.

Of the new BX 12 "Select" service, these negative reviews: the moving of the Local stops in fact makes trips longer for many riders, as they can no longer take local or Select, whichever one comes first. Some local stops have muddy sidewalks, and no disabled access. Lawsuit, anyone?

  And then there is the case of the hijacked banana trucks, stolen from Delaware and dumped, fruitless, in The Bronx...

June 30, 2008

  The Empowerment Zone last week announced 11 awards, eight in Manhattan and three in The Bronx:

* $200,000 loan and a $50,000 grant to help Project Enterprise Inc. establish a micro-loan program in the Bronx Empowerment Zone. Since its creation in 1996 as a US Tressury-certified Community Development Financial Institution, Project Enterprise has served more than 1,300 entrepreneurs, disbursing more than 350 loans totaling over $1.2 million.
* $250,000 grant to help Rocking The Boat Inc.'s $960,000 project to consolidate and renovate its educational facilities. The project will help the company establish its first permanent home at 812 Edgewater Road in the Bronx. Rocking the Boat used traditional wooden boatbuilding and on-water education to help middle- and high school-age youth develop into empowered and responsible adults. Its programs serve nearly 2,000 students and community members, mostly from the south Bronx.
* $150,200 grant to help the New York Gauchos and Teamwork Foundation renovate its main gymnasium and entranceway at 478 Gerard Avenue in the Bronx. The Teamwork Foundation, founded 40 years ago, serves as the general business administrator of the New York Gauchos basketball program that has served approximately 11,000 young people ranging in age from 5 through 18. Fifteen Gaucho alumni have played in the National Basketball Association (including Stephon Marbury of the New York Knicks).

    So is that a Brooklyn (or Coney Island) grant?

  Nomination for worst bus line in the city: the Bx 41 along Webster Avenue. A recent evening at 149th Street, people waited for an hour. Later, up the line, the schedule was ignored, all busses stopped at Fordham Road, leaving those heading further north stranded again.

  On global issues, click here for hour-long debate...

June 23, 2008

  The week of the City's announcement of plans for "Third Avenue / Melrose Commons" on the real Third Avenue and 157th Street, Flynn Playground was entirely ripped up, while overpriced "luxury condos" were advertised between 156th and 157ths. Is this serving actual Bronx residents? Further south on Willis, at 145th, Peter Goodwine founded Fort Motte Baptist, and on 142nd there is Abraham House. More gentrification on Lincoln Avenue, beyond the Clocktower at 112, a whole new crowd. Again, is this helping those who've long lived in The Bronx?

June 16, 2008

  It's street fair time again in The Bronx. On a rainy Saturday night on 187th Street, an old grinding machine sounding like African drumming chewed through sugar cane fed in by a man in a skull cap, in his pickup truck, sign calling it Bahar Fruit Juices.  On Arthur Avenue in a Parks Department trailer, the band Streets of the Bronx played on, for only those under Palumbo's Caffe's awning.

  The blues they played could be for the Hunts Point Market, which is threatening to move to New Jersey, just after the City moved the Fulton Street Fish Market up near it. Great planning...

  Trolling the Federal Register, we learn that DOJ has sued and settled about illegal underground storage tanks, for gas, at 1303 Webster Avenue and 4090 Boston Road in the Bronx...

June 9, 2008

  Leave it to the New York Times to gush about gentrification of the South Bronx without once mentioning its impact on affordability for the people who live here. While some of "Sobro's" new residents mean well, they should start thinking harder how to not only raise the rents. Here's hoping...

June 2, 2008

  This week, media-watch at home and abroad. Now we know who the New York Times writes for -- in a piece about a factory fire in Mott Haven in the Bronx, the Times of May 28 wrote " People walking around East Harlem and the Upper East Side this afternoon may have noticed black smoke billowing in the air, visible from quite a distance." Apparently, no one in The Bronx saw the smoke, or is reading the Times....

   Now is The Independent of London of May 27 snarking about the South Bronx: "Belgravia and the Upper East Side would be looking like swathes of Croxteth and the South Bronx already do with people; vegetation sprouting through the tarmac, litter blowing down the streets like tumbleweed, derelict dwellings with broken windows, dogs running wild, and not a policeman in sight." Wild dogs on the tarmac!

May 26, 2008

  Now it's become clear that the parkland promised in exchange for that taken for the new Yankee Stadium will open, if ever, long after at the stadium does. So who's to blame? The Parks Commissioner won't talk, and the local pols who supported the deal continue to claim, against all evidence, that it is on track. And now it looks like the news stadium won't get an outdoor hockey game, either.

  Meanwhile, has placed the East Harlem restaurant Rao's north in... the Bronx. Click here.

  Welcome to pander-ville: Bronx pol Jeff Klein took to the airwaves to brag about his proposal to provide a gas-use tax credit, and to eliminate tolls on holidays. Yeah, just what we need, more driving...

May 19, 2008

From the department of "It Don't Mean a Think If It Ain't Got that Swing" -- We agree it's ridiculous that the renovated playground of Public School 138 in Soundview has no swings. According to the Daily News, the explanation is that NYC recently paid $3.5 million to settle a case brought by a woman named Daisey Vega who was injured in a swing accident in 1999 at Noble Park in the Bronx." Mayor Bloomberg is quoted that "you have one accident, everybody screams, 'More safety, another level of backup,' and then somebody sues. A lot of the old things that we did because there are some risks involved and people have sued . . . are no longer things that we do. Sad, I mean . . . you know . . . anyways." This in the same month he told a reporter asking about Sean Bell, "some nerve.. talk to my press secretary." And so it goes.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has announced that the Yankees and Major League Baseball will donate $7 million to city institutions such as the Grand Concourse branch of the public library, Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club, and Bronx Lebanon Hospital's pediatric diabetes program. "There's no way to put a value on the free advertising that we get out of something like this," he said. The July 15 game will be preceded by a five-day fan-fest at the Javits Center with autograph sessions, memorabilia displays and batting cages. But the Javits Center is in Manhattan...  Derek Jeter said, "with the addition of the new stadium, they're really building up the area around it." We'll see.

We are back on the Bronx-watch including watching how the term is used. No less than the BCC (okay, its Welsh service) used "South Bronx" as a generic insult in an article, here, about biking. Also in the UK, the Andover Advertiser of May 16 quotes a local pol that "We are in danger of scoring an own goal because the way we talk Tidworth is like living in the Bronx." And what's wrong with living in the Bronx?

May 12, 2008

   While the Bloomberg Administration loudly claims concern for the lack of supermarkets and fruits and vegetables in lower income neighborhoods, the gentrification it has fueled is part of the problem. In an example of commercial gentrification, Vornado Realty Trust is jacking up Key Foods' rent 500% on Bruckner Boulevard and White Plains Road, driving out the store in order to demolish it and leave residents of high-rises with a ten block walk to the store.  Only in New York...

May 5, 2008

            Cinco de Mayo was celebrated on 187th Street and Crescent Avenue on May 3, with no even as much fanfare as last year. The sponsor was Health Plus, which ran nearly every booth. Even by five o'clock, there were no tacos, no Mexican sodas, nothing. Que pasa?

            The next day, May 4, six police cars, a fire department 4 by 4 and two ambulance converged on the same corner. Police engaged in a manhunt, while people stood in front of the mostly-Albanian social clubs gawking. A social club on 186th Street has a sign, Welcome Home, Ramush. But were the police working for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia?

  Finally the scandal of the 700 teachers in NY Board of Education "rubber rooms" has hit the tabloids, with the Daily News following-up on filmmakers' work, and saying it costs the City $65 million a year. But what of the scandal of "District 75," to which a mix of violent and learning disabled kids are sent, without notice or due process?

April 28, 2008

   Spring has sprung in The Bronx, and the buildings are coming down. On 163rd Street and Third Avenue, the Powerhouse Church is down. The second courthouse has disappeared; there is a sign by Procida Construction advertising the chance to "join Dunkin Donuts and Popeyes" in a strip mall on the site. Whole streets are closed off to traffic. But we're back looking into it -- watch this site, and, on international issues, this streaming video

April 21, 2008

  On the sidelines of Inner City Press' first-hand coverage of the Pope's visit to the United Nations on April 18 -- click here for that -- the venture to Yonkers involved telling residents of the Dunwoody neighborhood that they could not go out of their houses for hours on end. There was no reporting about hot sheet motels in the area...

   Arthur Avenue Bakery update: even with two governmental "Closed" signs on the window, the bakery is still stocked, and a handwritten sign promises wholesale bread as special prices. Neighbors often wondered what took place in the half-finished cinderblock building above the bakery...

   And now, a new restaurant review in the form of a cautionary tale. On Fordham Road across from White Castle, in the storefront formerly occupied by a bar that got closed for serving under-aged drinkers, the "Il Ponte Vecchio Pizza Restaurant" has opened.  The space is long and narrow, like a railroad flat. On a recent visit, two reviewers walked through to sit in the back, next to an open door. The back yard has green Astro-turf, making it seem like a place to sit. But in fact there is a large refrigerator in the yard, into which restaurant staff disappeared several times during the 20 minute wait for fried calamari. One, the manager, reappeared carrying a head of lettuce in ungloved hands. "Sorry for the wait," he said. "It's that we make everything fresh." The next, a cook, came out with vegetables. On the menu, one can design a salad: walnuts 50 cents, cheddar cheeses 75 cents and the like. It is confusing and could, it appears, result in a $22 dollar salad.

            There are pipes across the ceiling. One is for sprinklers -- safety is always a plus -- but the other pipe made noise during the visit. The decor includes vaguely Roman tiles, an incongruous chicken, and witch hats. There is a hole in the ceiling next to the light fixture, and another in the brick wall.

            On the positive side, the Cuban panini came with fresh-made potato chips. "Those only come with the panini," the manager said. Oh well. He said they own nine other restaurants. These, we gotta see...

            To be constructive, this restaurant can make money from Fordham students. But it will need to stay open later than 9 p.m., and otherwise raise its game, and/or lower its prices. The catering has promise, the hot chips should remain. And maybe the fridge should come in from the back yard...

April 14, 2008

  Belmont journal: what do you say about a public library -- say, one on the corner of 186th Street and Hughes Avenue -- that doesn't have tax forms in the week that taxes are due? Why is yet another small grocery store opening up on 187th Street, between Beaumont and Cambrelleng, making it a total of eight in a three-block strip? Three of these are open 24-hours a day; whether the new one will be is not yet known. If you combined these eight, you could have a good-sized supermarket... This are back to morning, post unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo, at the Albanian social clubs in the area. A strangely flashy place named Planet Wings has opened up in the same stretch, already offering franchise opportunities along with slightly overpriced wings. Cheapest item is a taco, at $2.16, but it is cold, cannot hold a candle to the little stands that have cropped up in Belmont. The sign says, best wings in the Hudson Valley. But this is The Bronx.. The area was filled with police this week, searching for suspects, throwing people up against the pharmacy's rolling metal gate. But the only "raid" that got publicized was of the Arthur Avenue Bakery, click here for that. Welcome to Belmont...

April 7, 20

  Metro-North follow-up: a week after defending his railroad's exclusion of riders at Fordham Station in The Bronx, and saying inaccurately that a center platform could be built for more express trains to stop at Fordham, Metro-North president Peter A. Cannito was quoted in a press release about a center platform -- for Yankee Stadium. It's a $91 million project, and according to Cannito, "Everyone is pushing to get it open as close to opening day 2009 as is safely possible." The press release continued, "The four tracks of Metro-North's Hudson Line pass just west of the stadium. The tracks are being relocated about 50 feet west to allow for construction of two center-island platforms." It's all where your priorities are...

  In 2007 in its headquarters Metropolitan Statistical Area of New York City, Citigroup confined Americans to higher-cost loans above the rate spread 2.61 times more frequently than whites. Citigroup's disparity to Latinos was 1.90.

            JPMorgan Chase, in what is also its headquarters MSA of New York City, was even more disparate, confining African Americans to higher-cost loans above the rate spread 2.92 times more frequently than whites. Chase's disparity to Latinos was 2.50. More here.

 And now predatory lending has slowed the market: home sales volume in Queens dropped by 25 percent from February 2007 to February 2008, 31 percent in Brooklyn, 36 percent on Staten Island -- but fully 50 percent in the Bronx...

March 31, 2008 -- see,

Bronxites Are Excluded from Metro-North Trains, As Congestion Pricing Looms

Byline: Matthew R. Lee of Inner City Press in the Bronx: News Analysis

BRONX, N.Y., March 30 -- As New York government officials consider imposing a tax for driving into lower Manhattan, many of the Metro-North Railroad trains which stop to let off suburban riders in the Bronx refuse to take Bronx passengers on board for the last leg of the trip into Grand Central Station. When these trains stop at the Fordham Road station in the Bronx, the public address system announces that they are "discharge only" and that anyone who insists on getting on will be charged the highest possible fare.  Among those excluded or over-charged are Bronxites who have paid over $140 for a monthly pass from Fordham to Grand Central.

            This longstanding policy was questioned on March 26 at a public hearing of the Metro-North Railroad president Peter Cannito. Along with questions about allowing more bicycles on the MNRR trains and better policing late-night drunken riders, Inner City Press asked Mr. Cannito to explain why the company he runs, at least until later this year, denies its services to pre-paid customers in the Bronx. While several of the other MNRR board members present seem surprised that this takes place, Cannito said it is a product of an operating agreement between the states of Connecticut and New York. He said that since Connecticut pays 65% of the New Haven line's costs, they have requested that no passengers be allowed on the New Haven lines trains which stop to discharge passengers in the Bronx.

            When Inner City Press questioned the social, racial and environmental justice logic of keeping paying customers from The Bronx from riding the suburban commuter trains even when they have paid, Cannito said, even if "you don't accept it," he had explained it. Another board member interjected that what Inner City Press had raised showed the "regionality of service" which is "something we are keenly aware of and working toward."

            Further inquiry by Inner City Press has revealed as an explanation of the exclusion of Bronxites that the Connecticut and New York lines of the Metro-North system don't have in place a system to invoice each other for riders like Bronxites riding New Haven line trains south into Manhattan. The bureaucratic fix appears simple, unless an implicit selling-point of the New Haven line is the exclusion of more "urban" riders.  While some intrepid  Bronxites have  found a way around the MNRR's policy of exclusion -- by buying a holding a ticket from Westchester to Grand Central, as if they had gotten on further north -- these games are not accessible to everyone, cost more and should not be necessary, particularly with congestion pricing looming.

            Cannito offered a single, illusory concession. He said that MNRR is considering whether having a middle platform at the Fordham station would allow additional express trains from White Plains to stop at Fordham. But a cursory visit to the station shows that there is no room for a middle platform, and little chance of expanding the station outward, either into Fordham University where a dorm is being constructed, or out onto Webster Avenue.

            Also at the hearing, a bicycle enthusiast derided late night drunken riders who, he said, often vomit in the cars. Just as a designated quiet car had been proposed, he suggested what he called a "designated pukers car."

            The evening's final witness said she had observed phone sex and, to be diplomatic, onanism on a recent late night ride. (She specified that the caller sprawled out across three seats and while touching his groin with one hand, cell phone in the other.) She said that "as a woman of color," it made her feel unsafe. One wag in the back of the MTA meeting room muttered, "And everyone else likes it?" What Metro-North will do about any of these issues remains to be seen.

March 24, 2008

  Bronx news watch medley -- note to News 12: the Latin music legend who just died was named Cha-chow, not Cock-Hayo... And to report at length about the fight-back of a Bronx high school football coach without even mentioning why the principal banned him from the campus is not respectful, it's mystifying...

   Last week in honor or search of La Francophonie, Inner City Press had to venture beyond the Bronx, first to DC then Manhattan then finally the Borough of Kings. Monday in DC, the Press' travails with the UN and Google were discussed. Monday night at the CUNY Graduate Center on Fifth Ave, an eclectic band played, saxophonist from Quebec, bass from Mali, keyboards from Japan. The M de C Paul Holdergraber from the NY Public Library is, despite his name, French. Who knew? The week was capped, however, by the surreal performance of a quintet called La Laque at the Luna Lounge west of Bedford, east of Lorimer in Brooklyn. Energetic drums, ethereal singing in French, vaguely Germanic keyboards. One of the few song-explanation said that Tuesday is French for weekend. "C'mon, that's funny," the singer deadpanned. Mardi, get it?

 And while not French at all, we're compelled to note, across the street from Luna Lounge, the upscale-downscale meat emporium Fette Sau, faux Southern pork shoulder $15 a pound, we recommend the broccoli salad and sweet black chili sauce...

March 17, 2008  WashPost - Guardian (UK)

 The day after news of the Federal Reserve's murky bailout of Bear Stearns through JPMorgan Chase, Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch filed with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a petition, complaint and series of requests, portions of which are available by clicking here. ICP has now made a similar filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, it's reported that Bear Stearns' CEO recently paid cash to buy two apartment in the former Plaza Hotel in New York, without a mortgage...

            So how did Eliot Spitzer get caught? North Fork Bank, recently re-branded Capital One, filed a Suspicious Activity Report last July. Like most SARs, it went nowhere. Until HSBC filed its own, about transactions with shell companies QAT International and QAT Consulting Group, connected to Emperor's Club VIP. Now investigators took an interest, tracing back to Spitzer. Why was he banking with North Fork, of all places?

  Goodwin, a 25-pound pygmy goat found last week wandering near the intersection of 141st Street and St. Ann's Avenue in the Bronx, was shipped last week to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen in upstate New York. "I don't know for sure, but my best guess is that he escaped from a slaughterhouse," said Richard Gentles, spokesman for the Animal Care & Control Center of New York City. "We are excited to welcome this tiny, yet very brave, goat to our shelter," Susie Coston, Farm Sanctuary's national shelter director, said in a statement. "By running for his life, very likely from one of New York City's many live markets and slaughterhouses, Goodwin escaped a fate that no animal deserves and will now receive lifelong refuge and all the health care and affection he needs to really thrive. He will also become an ambassador for farm animals everywhere, educating the public about the horrors animals like him endure every day."
  Goodwin, estimated to be about one and a half years old, was found a few blocks from where another Farm Sanctuary resident a lamb named Lucky Lady was discovered last June, said Natalie Bowman, Farm Sanctuary communications coordinator."We suspect they may have come from the same slaughterhouse," Bowman said. Lucky Lady, the runaway lamb found in the same vicinity as Goodwin, was found wandering around an industrial complex in the South Bronx in June, Bowman said.


March 10, 2008

      So why is the courthouse at 161st and 3rd being given to Imagine Schools, which in 2005 lost its charter for a Syracuse elementary school for having low test scores and high turnover among students and staff members?

            Foreclosure tale from New York, by a charter-bus driver in the East Bronx who has a mortgage payment that went from $2,482 to $3,500 a month. I had a two-year teaser rate, now going up every six months to a maximum of 13.2 percent, "I spoke to Wells Fargo.  I tried to get them to keep the rate at the teaser rate, 6.8 percent...  I'm in a home that cost us $35,000 in the sixties. We refinanced three times, and we owe $400,000."

 It appears that the UN is considering relocating some of its  trees, including gifts from the Japanese mission, to keep them safe during construction. Inner City Press asked Capital Master Plan spokesman Werner Schmidt if he could confirm that the Bronx-based NY Botanical Garden, where the CMP's Michael Adlerstein used to work, is coming to check out and even price relocation of the trees. "There are tree issues," Schmidt replied. "We are talking to a number" of entities, "including the Botanical Garden." Watch this site. And see, on Inner City Press and free speech,

March 3, 2008

As you cruise past Cardinal Hayes High School, let's say on MetroNorth watching a new building rising where once the Police Academy was to have been, who would have guessed what the principal had on his hard drive -- or would that be his zip(per) drive? Also on the porn front, Inner City Press last week ran a three-story series that CUlMinated in the quiet removal of Smooth and King, replaced by Elle and Vogue. Click here. And now, to the Bronx...

February 25, 2008

  A snowy Saturday night in Tremont, club-goers line up in front of the Jet Set Cafe on Webster, across from the deadly White Castle outlet, just south of where Popeye's Fried Chicken has moved in. If you need a selection of hundreds of hubcaps and rims, this is your area.

Across the world but related, In Kazakhstan, Ministry of Emergencies head Vladimir Bozhko last week warned ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steel company, that it could be forced to close one of its coal mines it if does not improve safety conditions after an explosion last month killed 30 people. The company was given one month to draw up a plan to introduce 41 safety reforms at the Abaiskaya mine in central Kazakhstan. ArcelorMittal is making steel for New York's Freedom Tower...

  Also high in the New York City sky is the multi-million dollar penthouse owned by Lichtenstein, on 40th Street and 2nd Avenue. It was put into a different light by the story this week of Germany's payment for a CD-ROM of its citizens with money in Lichtenstein. Enabling tax evasions as an act of war? Also about the UN, see this sample editorial.

  Meanwhile, the NY Attorney General's office last week sent Inner City Press a letter about a years-old Freedom of Information Law request about predatory lending, responsive documents to which have still not been provided...

February 18, 2008

    In the streets of the Belmont neighborhood in the Bronx, lined with Kososar social clubs selling burek, cars honked their horns, flying red flags emblazoned with the Albanian black eagle. "Times Square one o'clock," a men in front of one of the social clubs told cars that slowed as they passed. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting for 1 p.m. as well, announced to the press not by the UN but by the French mission. What could the Security Council accomplish? Click here for Inner City Press' story from the UN on Kosovo, and also on " Death on UN Lawn Leaves Questions Unanswered, Photos Unexplained."

February 11, 2008

  By Fordham Plaza, where every morning now a long time snakes down the sidewalk, patrolled by guards who cause a break in the line for certain overpriced storefronts, the environmental outrage recently occurred. The tall trees fronting the Metro North railroad tracks were unceremonious cut down. In any other borough, this would have triggered protest, probably before, and saving the trees. But this is the Bronx, where institutions do whatever they want and the people are made to wait endlessly in line...

 Meanwhile looking south to Manhattan, Wall Street's Merrill Lynch has announced losses of almost $10 billion in the last three months of 2007, forcing the sale pieces of the company to foreign investors.

            This hasn't stopped Merrill from promoting itself with a page on the program of the mis-conceived Gucci / Madonna event held February 6 on the North Lawn of the UN, the over-commercialization of which was reported as far away as Australia, click here to view (cites Inner City Press, and see this, which links in Deutsche Bank). And so it goes...


February 4, 2008

  Last week, Hudson Valley Bank's CEO said in a press release that Bronx landlord Barry Levites has been named to the board of New York National Bank, which sold out to Hudson Valley Bank. The press release mentions, only once, Hudson Valley Bank's Business Development Board, and that Levites was already serving on it. So Hudson Valley Bank's impact on NYNB has been to name a controversial Bronx landlord to its board. The missed j.a. lobbia wrote in the Voice during the 2001 mayoral campaign of donations from "Levites Realty, which has made headlines for its decrepit Bronx buildings, including one that had to be vacated in 1994 after the walls began to shake and crack." Welcome to the new New York National Bank...

At the UN, George Clooney Says that in Lockheed Martin's Sole Source Darfur Deal, Mistakes Were Made; click here for video debate.

January 28, 2008

  Now this was innovative-- Luis Fernandez, 30, was arraigned last week on charges that he sold illegal drugs while making deliveries for Schmuger's Hardware Store on Third Avenue, including a sale last month to an undercover cop near E. 178th St and Third Ave...

January 21, 2008

   Bloomberg's state of the city speech last week, delivered while still toying with a presidential run, took credit for rezoning the South Bronx, but not for closing schools and daycare centers, and presiding over the increasing unaffordability of housing to people who have long lived in The Bronx. Then in his canned radio address, Bloomberg equated fighting poverty with monitoring those getting out of prison, while saying that "another key priority of my second term [is] fighting poverty." We'll see.

  From an Inner City Press correspondent in the North Bronx we have this -- Saturday January 19 near 241st Street, on an elevated train stopped between stations, police lay in wait to issue tickets to riders who walked between cars. Feeling it was a set-up, our intrepid correspondent got off at the next stop and stood telling entrants what the police were up to. And soon enough, the police left...

January 14, 2008

  As protests continue of Bloomberg's closing of the day care center on 140th Street between Willis and Alexander Avenues, now the state Office of Children and Family Services is moving to shutter the Pyramid Reception Center in the Bronx.

  Now slated for the Bathgate Industrial Park, which has had a weedy lot just below the Cross Bronx Expressway for more than a decade, is a warehouse for Pearlgreen Hardware, which claims it will add about 60 new jobs in addition to the 60 workers Pearlgreen currently employs. We'll see..

  Dion DiMucci, formerly of the Belmonts, is moving back to New York, to... Wall Street.

            The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative action against Rosenthal & Klein Inc., Bronx, N.Y. The action alleges that the company committed willful, repeated, and flagrant violations of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). In the action, it is alleged that the company failed to make full payment promptly to 16 sellers of the agreed purchase prices, in the total amount of $927,459.76 for 208 lots of perishable agricultural commodities. Food wars...

 January 7, 2008

  While trying to create buzz for a presidential run, Mayor Bloomberg is moving to close the Lucille Murray Child Development Center in the South Bronx by January 11. Not only is the Center being de-funded -- the building will no longer offer daycare of any kind. Great...

  On the fight against the proposed take-over of Commerce Bank, including its drive-thru branch on Fordham Road, see, e.g., "Activist fights TD-Commerce Bancorp deal, citing racial gap," by Richard Newman, Bergen Record, Jan. 1, 2008, Pg. L7

December 31, 2007

  In the Daily News' December 28 Pollyanna piece about crime drops in The Bronx, there's a quote from Augie Aloia, a professor of criminal justice at Monroe College in the Bronx, the "the new numbers as a sign that the Bronx is 'turning the corner...Because of the demographics, the Bronx is a tough borough and it always has been.'" But what demographics does he mean? If the reference is to income, that should be spelled out. By the way, grand larceny is up, and shootings and injuries have not declined as much as homicides: meaning that the decrease may largely be attributable to advances in emergency medicine...

  Click here for Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch's challenge to the proposed take-over of Commerce Bank by Toronto Dominion. In the New York City MSA, TD Banknorth strikingly excluded African Americans from its marketing, outreach and lending. For home improvement loans, of which TD Banknorth made 126 loans to whites based on 266 applications of which it denied 115 (43.2%), TD Banknorth processed only 46 applications from African Americans, denied 35 of them (76.1%). For refinance loans, of which TD Banknorth made 10 loans to whites, TD Banknorth received nine applications from African Americans, and denied ALL of them. While strikingly excluding people of color from its offers of normally-priced, prime credit, TD's Banknorth has continued funding and enabling predatory / fringe financiers such as high-cost pawnshops... And see, "Advocacy group in challenge of TDBank-Commerce Bancorp deal," by Carrie Tait, National Post (Canada), December 29, 2007;  "Advocates for poor protest bid to buy Commerce," by Harold Brubaker, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 29, 2007

December 24, 2007

    Christmas in Belmont is not the same this year. What's missing? Well, the farm animals and horse-drawn carriage ride, from in front of Mount Carmel Pharmacy. There's said to a sickness in the family, so this year there's only a Santa in front, $5 a picture, small candy bars handed out free. To the side of Santa on Sunday, the neighborhood's ghost-like bootleg DVD seller greeted an African-American teen with an off-color salutation.  "What'd you say, man?"

  "I said, How's it going, buddy."

  "That's not what you said."

  "Okay, I called you cracker. Are you white?"

   "No." And that the conversation shifted...

December 17, 2007

As Carrion Downshifts to Race for NYC Comptroller, Human Rights Disinvestment Balanced by Returns

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee: News Analysis

BRONX, NY, December 13 -- As Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrion spoke at the Grand Hyatt Thursday morning, quoting from James Joyce and Emma Lazarus' poems on the base of the Statue of Liberty, he seemed inexorably to be moving to declaring himself a candidate for Mayor. In the audience were generations of Bronx elected officials, Jose and Joel Rivera, the Yankees' Randy Levine and a table bought by the Bronx Zoo, Herman Badillo at a table of lobbying firm Tonio Burgos and Associates. The real estate industry was making introductions, and filling the ballroom. There was no talk of rising rents, only of rising hopes. And then Carrion declared for... Comptroller.

            In the media scrum that immediately followed, he was asked "why not run for Mayor?"  His answer was "I've got kids," and that there are other young talents running for Mayor, two on whom he said he would call with the news: Christine (Quinn) and Anthony (Weiner).  He shifted to say that New York's economy is doing well, even with the subprime lending crisis. He said there are "ten to twelve thousand families with subprime mortgages," an estimate that readily-available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data calls into question. But he's not yet Comptroller.

            Looking ahead, Inner City Press asked Carrion for his views on using the city's pension fund and investment to advance human rights. "It's one of the strongest instruments municipalities have," Carrion said, "to go to enterprises, to multinational corporations or funds, and say we are uncomfortable with practices in parts of the company, in countries, the treatment of workers."

            Inner City Press asked if he would divest from specific countries, and from companies doing business in them, using as examples what other government subdivisions have targets, Sudan and Syria. "Anywhere human or workers rights are violated, we need to rethink strategy," Carrion said. He went on to say he would "also take into consideration the return for pensioners." So if human rights violators are profitable? We'll see.

Footnotes: A study cited last week found that in Jamaica, Queens, a mainly black suburb of New York with a median income of $45,000, 46 per cent of mortgages were sold by sub-prime lenders; while in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, a mostly white area with a median income of $50,000, 4 per cent of mortgages originated from sub-prime lenders... With Citigroup giving its CEO and chairman jobs to investment banker, now pundits speculate that the branch bank may be sold, saying Citi's "share in New York is way down from five years ago, when it had nearly 21% market share and 375 branches, because it moved a large amount of deposits from New York City to Nevada." Is that why Citi has felt comfortable doing less and less under the Community Reinvestment Act?

December 10, 2007

  So Mayor Bloomberg, preparing to fly to Beijing and to Bali, announces without consultations that P.S. 220 in the Bronx will be closed. His canned quote was "We just can't sit here and let a school that does not do what it's supposed to do continue on its merry way" -- he said as he headed on his merry way to cut ribbons in China with Hank Paulson, and to resorts in Indonesia...

December 3, 2007

  A Bronx tale, from last week's New York Sun, about Gloria Davis' successor Michael Benjamin: "He first saw her when he stopped by the William Hodson Senior Center on Webster Avenue... by his third visit to the center, he won a date with Ms. Benjamin, who accepted a lunch invitation at a nearby Albanian-run Italian restaurant." Okay, that'd be on Arthur Avenue. But which one? Noticed on Cambrelleng: a 4 by 4 with diplomatic plates, "Consul." Albania, anyone? In the run-up to the December 10th Kosovo (non) decision?

  From the mailbag:

Subj: Belmont and e187th incessant Xmas music 
From: Distracted
To: mlee [at]
Date: 11/27/2007 5:51:50 PM Eastern Standard Time

Matthew: Do you have any idea who is controlling the two speakers on the pole next to Mt. Carmel Church on the corner of Belmont and 187th street.  Xmas music is constantly blaring and the church says it is not them that does this? The music runs until 11pm at night - we need to sleep sometime. Thanks.

November 26, 2007

 BRONX, November 24 -- "American Gangster" by Ridley Scott spent much money getting the visuals of 1970s New York, including The Bronx, down pat. There's a canyon of abandoned buildings, a foray to the Bronx under the elevated train (flash of a 176th Street Station sign), and incongruous street scenes on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. There are wide-windowed breakfast spots in Harlem, and housing projects like jails, with fencing on their breezeways. There is the growing heroin empire, and the dogged cop on its trail. No judgment is passed, no conclusion offered. It seems like a waste of money -- and, concretely, the Chelsea Clearview, after taking in $12 a ticket, makes sure that no other movies can be seen. Boo hiss.

  We like the good news on South Brother Island, click here.

November 19, 2007

Bloomberg Repeats Threat to Cease School Visits as UN Backslides on Fix-Up Commitments -- Does Real Estate Explain? Bronx Footnote

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 13 -- While the UN on Tuesday claimed that it had agreed to New York City Mayor Bloomberg's timeline for minimum safety repairs of the UN Headquarters building, the City's response to the UN notes two items as "not satisfactory," and reiterates the threat to prohibit public school visits to the UN. The City's letter, obtained by Inner City Press and put online here, accuses the UN of backsliding on previous timeliness for "compartmentalization" and for installation of smoke detectors.

            "Building separation" was to have begun on January 8, a date that the UN's November 5 letter ignores. The City's Commissioner for the UN, Consular Corps and Protocol, Marjorie B. Tiven -- who is also Mayor Bloomberg's sister -- writes that "in previous meeting with the UN we had been told these dates were attainable. Your letter states only that a contract will be awarded by mid-December... That is not satisfactory."

            On smoke detectors, the City required that 50% be installed by January 8 "and 100% by March 31, 2008, dates the UN had previously agreed were achievable." Commissioner Tiven writes that the UN's November 5 letter "states that the contract would be signed by the end of November 2007 and work completed 24 months after the signing of the contract. That is not satisfactory." Then Commissioner Tiven reiterates the threat: if the deadlines, including those listed above, are not met, "the City will have not choice but to direct the cessation of all public school visits to the United Nations, and if warranted, the City will take additional action as well." The letter is copied to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secretary of State Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Mayor.

            How then to explain the following statements, questions by Inner City Press, at Tuesday UN noon briefing? From the transcript:

Deputy Spokesperson: The Secretary-General and the Head of the Department of Management, Alicia Barcena, are in complete agreement with the Mayor in terms of concerns for the safety of visitors and staff and others who occupy this building, which I mentioned to you yesterday... I think we are moving along, and the city and UN continue to address these measures as expeditiously as possible.

Inner City Press: Yes, one follow-up on that.  There seemed to be this very concrete issue of compartmentalization, which I guess means fire doors and also something to do with the fan system, which the city seems to think should be repaired by January.  Is this...

Deputy Spokesperson:  There is a benchmark date set for that and we've agreed to that. [Video here]

            But the City's letter notes that the UN has not agreed to the benchmark dates, has in fact backed away from previous commitments. How these problems develop will be reported on this site.

News analysis: It would be important for the UN to stand by its commitments, and if for some reason backing away from commitments is seen as necessary, to be transparent, including to the press, about such changes. The earlier City letter was reported in the Washington Times of November 12, and New York Sun of November 13. Did the UN think that the City's November 13 letter wouldn't become public? This same pattern, with larger financial stakes, has taken place in connection with the UN's no-bid $250 million contract to Lockheed Martin for Darfur peacekeeping infrastructure: the UN said it had to go "sole source" following the Security Council's July 31 resolution on Darfur, but then a memo emerged, obtained and published by Inner City Press, showing the move to sole source as early as April 2007. Each time, the UN's response seem to be to try to track down the leak, to go after whistleblowers. But the City is free to release its letters.

   It might also be attributable to not knowing or having been told of the letter -- also on Tuesday, receipt of a letter from biofuels trade associations could not be confirmed, and a question earlier in the week about submission of evidence of alleged corruption in UN's Kosovo mission UNMIK has still not been answered. Still...

   On the UN side, some real estate-minded pundits speculate that beyond a concern for safety, the Bloomberg Administration may also be seeking to gain some leverage and influence over upcoming UN decisions that can impact the City's economy. Pending General Assembly approval, the UN will eventually be moving thousands of employees out of its headquarters to repair it. Where these employees go will impact local real estate markets. The City is also said to have its eye on the two building across First Avenue from the Headquarters, thrown up by the UN Development Corporation (UNDC). Could the UN help stoke up real estate values in Long Island City, Queens? Inner City Press asked the chief of the UN's rehabilitation project, Michael Adlerstein, who the UN's real estate broker is. After some hesitation, in halting transparency, he answered: Newmark. In New York, real estate is a major game in town.

  Question: has the UN ever placed anything in the Bronx? (There was a half-ass link between UNDC and Melrose Commons). Has the UN ever done anything for the Bronx?

There is, upon reflection, at least one further angle. If Bloomberg does through his hat and money into the Presidential ring, without having a foreign policy beyond a private jet, having publicly tiffed with the UN could be of use. This is not lost on the November 14 New York Post, nor in the release of the second letter to CBS and others. Watch this site.


November 12, 2007

   As the administration hires PR firms to drum up support for congestion pricing in the Bronx, already underserved by mass transit, downtown the diplomats are making sure they wouldn't have to be the "congestion tax."

UN Diplomats Contest Congestion Pricing, Cuba Out of Princeton, Ticket Number Down

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Off the Racks

UNITED NATIONS, November 8 -- If New York drivers find themselves paying tolls to enter midtown Manhattan, under Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing scheme, guess who will not pay them? UN diplomats. A little-noticed section of the barely-read "Report of the Committee on Relations with the Host Country," recounts that the representatives of Indonesia, Malaysia and Russia all expressed "concerns" about "the 'congestion tax' plan recently announced by the Mayor and whether it was intended to apply to the diplomatic community." The representative of the United States replied that "the actual wording was 'congestion pricing'... it was too early to discuss the matter as it was unclear whether the plan, which had yet to be finalized, would receive approval in Albany."

            Forget for a moment the centrality of Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. The U.S. representative's deferral on the question does not take into account that the U.S. State Department, in London where congestion pricing is already in place, argues not to pay it.

            So here in New York, Ambassadors and their staffs even from oil rich countries will cross on bridges and in tunnels without paying. But only from some countries -- the report also contains the complaints of delegations from Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Sudan and Russia, about being barred from traveling more than 25 miles away from Columbus Circle.  Wanting to attend a meeting at Princeton about the UN International Criminal Court, two delegates from Cuba were refused permission to travel that far south, whether by car or New Jersey Transit. The U.S. responded that its "obligations as host country" of the UN "arose only in respect of official UN meetings." Sometimes restrictions are tighter than 25 miles. When Radovan Karadzic came to the UN, he was limited to 42nd Street, between First Avenue and the Grand Hyatt on Lexington. No need to pay congestion pricing for that commute...

  On parking tickets, the one topic in the Host Country Report that is periodically covered, Mayor Bloomberg's sister Marjorie Tiven, NYC Commissioner for the UN, recounted that "between October 2006 and January 2007, 2400 civilian vehicles had been summoned and 79 towed... Civilian vehicles received seven times more summonses than those of diplomats." The report says Ms. Tiven "announced that... a new telephone line had been established which was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a wekk, for diplomats to address their parking problems: 718-383-7596." There's only one problem: the number has been disconnected, and no further information is available about it...

November 5, 2007

  Visions of the Bronx while leaving New York by Amtrak heading north -- over Randall's Island and the Bronx Kills, east past Murray Feiss with glimpses of the Brother Islands, Typhoid Mary's prison. Still mountains of rubble at 149th Street, Oakpoint Yards and the scam of Brite Star Homes, never cleaned. Hunts Point cross streets, Garrison and 156. Parkchester and Sizzler, from whence the DMV was relocated to Belmont. Soon Coop City and the bridge to City Island. High rise condos of New Rochelle and then you're gone...

October 29, 2007

  From last Thursday's New York Times, a double South Bronx screw-up: "An article on Sunday about environmental and economic development projects in the South Bronx financed by Citgo Petroleum, the American subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, gave an incorrect amount in some editions for discounted heating oil delivered to Americans last winter, and the amount it expects to deliver this winter. It delivered 100 million gallons, not 100,000, last winter, and plans to deliver 110 million gallons, not 110,000, this winter. Picture captions in one edition misidentified a man shown watering a rooftop garden in the South Bronx and standing with other members of a community group that received financing from Citgo Petroleum. He is Stephen Oliveira, not Henry Lajara." Off by a power of a thousand, and wrong caption in photo. What's next?

  Well in the Sunday Times of October 28, the word Bronx was listed only 14 times, including "Bronx cheer." The substantive stories involved the autopsy of the 7 year old who died in P.S. 205 on Southern Boulevard, a piece on the Kingsbridge Armory, a review of the Bronx Museum on the Arts, and a breezy Halloween piece mentioning Pelham Bay and Riverdale. Typical...

October 22, 2007

   The Hillary Clinton "where are the donors" story last week had at least two Bronx referents: a "one-table" Chinese restaurant (we call that a take-out, here, what the Brits call a talk-away), and "a man named Liang Zheng was listed as having contributed $1,000. The address given was a large apartment building on East 194th Street in the Bronx, but no one by that name could be located Census figures for 2000 show the median family income for the area was less than $21,000. About 45% of the population was living below the poverty line, more than double the city."

            The Chronicle of Higher Education of October 19, reporting on possible merger of NYU and Polytechnic, mentions a professor "at NYU's Bronx campus when the university closed it and the engineering school in 1973." As we've previously dug into, still without satisfaction, NYU then sold the campus to the City at an inflated price for what is now Bronx Community College...

October 15, 2007

   This week, Bronx and books. On Arthur Avenue, the long-delaying opening of the trattoria to replace the fake-Italian McDonald's that rented half of Teitel Brothers and caused a merchants' rift is now finally at hand. Workmen putting in final touches on Roberto Paciullo's Zero Otto Nove on October 13 said if not Monday, Tuesday it should open up. We'll have a review. Sooner or later. Further east on 187th Street, where the Korean liquor store closed down, a chicken wings place is moving in, claiming to have the best wings in the Hudson Valley. But this is The Bronx...

            Downtown in Manhattan, on the Mexican tip, ex-president Vicente Fox was bloviating about his book "Revolution of Hope" and about Jesus at Barnes and Nobles in Union Square when he got asked a question about the murderous crackdown in Oaxaca. The questioners were hustled by security out of B&N, while Fox offered faint protest about freedom of expression. So now a bookstore chain is ejecting those who ask public policy questions...

October 8, 2007

  Grant and rants: On October 4, the Bloomberg administration made much of a grant to, among others, Hendrickson Custom Cabinetry, a custom cabinetry and architectural millwork manufacturing firm located in the South Bronx. Bloomberg said-in-a-state that "We should spend our money helping those that have committed to job creation and promotion to train their entry level workers, instead of simply training New Yorkers with the hopes that jobs that match those skills will be available." Meanwhile, responding to sex discrimination case case against Bloomberg L.P., on which he has spoken with the company, Bloomberg at a South Bronx news conference said,  “I am the majority owner, and I’m absolutely entitled to talk to the senior people and am entitled to know what’s going on." So if you know what's going on, you're responsible, right?

  Click here for Inner City Press' October 5 encounter with ex-Governor Pataki at the UN.

   For the NYC street food vendor award, there were four finalists -- four in Manhattan and only one in the "outer boroughs." To this location, Inner City Press ventured last week. On 30th Street and Broadway in Astoria, one block from the elevated train, you'll find the stand of Farez "Freddy" Zeideia, the King of Falafel.  Meats are frying on the griddle, customers sit in white plastic chairs just inside the parking lot of a C-Town supermarket. The falafel sandwich, at three dollars, is crisp and saucy. Halfway through, Inner City Press interviewed Zeideia. The subject of the competitor brought a quick response. "The judges were all from Manhattan," Zeideia said. "So of course they picked a winner from Manhattan" -- in this case, dosa in the West Village. Zeideia, a 42-year old Palestinian, brings his cart every morning from Woodside, Queens. During the blackout, he and his generator kept serving shawarma and spiced chicken, without raising their prices. Nearby on Steinway Street in the hookah smoke-filled storefront of Cafe Beirut and others, the falafel is six dollars and not as juicy. Then again, they have backgammon boards and Arabic satellite TV. Le roi est mort, long live the King (of falafel).

October 1, 2007

  This week, from dry to wet and wag-like. Who makes money off supposedly middle-income housing in the current NYC? Bear Stearns and Citigroup, both involved in predatory mortgage lending against this same population. From The Bond Buyer: the NYC "Housing Development Corp. last week began pricing $60.3 million of federally taxable and tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction of and permanent mortgages for four buildings in one development. HDC anticipates that the deal will close on Friday. Boricua Village will feature 452 apartments reserved for low- and middle-income families in the Melrose section of the South Bronx.... Bear, Stearns & Co. is underwriting the bonds and Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP is bond counsel. The two stand-alone bond series are backed by project revenue and are secured by a letter of credit from Citi."

  A politically-incorrect wag on a recent stroll down Arthur Avenue remarked, "These days in Belmont you can't tell the different between the prostitutes and the college students. To whit, the crowds on 189th Street in front of Mug-Z's and Howl at the Moon, mini-skirts and cell phones ablaze, compared to the streetwalkers further east toward the Zoo -- what's the difference?" But their trajectories diverge, in the woods of the Botanical Gardens and elsewhere...

  Click here for Inner City Press' coverage of the UN General Assembly's General Debate...

September 24, 2007

  The Mayor's Management Report acknowledges that only in The Bronx did response time to fires get worse:

"Citywide response time to structural fires was 3 seconds faster in Fiscal 2007, continuing a downward trend that began in the second half of Fiscal 2006. Structural fire response time improved in four of the five boroughs and increased by 1 second in the Bronx."

   And now a review of a diner that calls itself the best in the city, just over the Triborough Bridge in Astoria. It's too fancy for its own good: it's a diner with a bar, which doesn't allow customers to sit at a table and have only a coffee and a bagel -- while charging over three dollars for a bagel. On the other hand the bagel is good, and the view can't be beat. Cheaper and funnier are the bagels doled out at Fordham Plaza, like out of a skit on Mad TV....

September 17, 2007 - As Fed Releases Mortgage Study, Subprime Disparities Worsen at Citigroup, HSBC, Wells

            Last week the centennial of Engine Company 82 and Ladder Company 31 was celebrated at a ceremony at the headquarters on Intervale Avenue. We note the prose stylings of John Ficayune in a preview of "When the Bronx Burned"--

"Luke and Jimbo, dragging their lengths of hose, were on their way to the building when they were joined by Mulligan, Juan, Lt. Bannon, Copper, and Bull. A hostile voice from a nearby group of young militant types shouted at them, 'Kiss my black ass, you white asses.'"

            Something about that quote lacks verisimilitude. Still, should be interesting. As summer nears its end, we venture over the Triborough Bridge to Astoria, specifically to the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden on 24th Avenue. The sound of the elevated N train competes with oom-pa music, Czech pilsners flow, to a crowd increasingly of hipsters. There are tall trees and sausages, a dance floor, mediaeval tall swinging doors as if this were a walled city. What of the neighbors? And isn't there a beer garden like this in Throggs Neck?

September 10, 2007

   This year's Ferragosto on Arthur Avenue had less freebies than usual. Calandra's Cheese, for example, which previously had a stand making and giving samples of mozzarella (even if they did glare at you if you came back too many times) this year had no stand outside, at least not at the 4:30 p.m. peak when "The Streets of the Bronx" launched laboriously into their rendition of "Good Love" and on Hughes and 186 Italian folk musicians played mandolin for an older crowd. There were the masked clowns and the roasting pig, sure, and the new restaurant on the block, Dolce Amaro, had a half dozen oversized motorcycles in front, including a three-wheeled named "Boss Hog." The police barricades were up on Hoffman and Belmont, 188 to 186. Mount Carmel Church had its stand and the library sold bags of book for two dollars, made to look like two hundred (200) on the sign in front. All in all a groovy time, as summer comes to a close...

   In potentially less positive New York news, the New York State Banking Department has named as its new first deputy superintendent of banks hired Patricia Meadow, who has held positions at HSBC Holdings PLC and Citigroup -- both of which have settled governmental charges of predatory lending...

September 3, 2007

   Could Michael Bloomberg -- "Mayor Mike" with the give-away, one-station-only radios given out during his campaign -- be to the right of George W. Bush? On predatory lending and credit discrimination, he appears to be, if last Friday is any guide. While Bush in Washington outlined some few reforms to help homeowners facing foreclosure, Bloomberg implied that lending discrimination cases are a perversion of justice, and that borrowers are to blame for being defrauded.

            During his weekly radio address, Bloomberg said that "what happened here is a bunch of people who really didn't have the wherewithal to get mortgages got mortgages. If they didn't have access to those mortgages, the elected officials would scream you're discriminating against them. Some of them lied about their incomes," he added. "Now they said the salesman convinced them to do it. OK. But we live in a world where, when you put your signature down, you're supposed to know what you're signing, and we have to take responsibility."

            The most offensive aspect, from our point of view, is bringing in the specter that "elected officials would scream you're discriminating against them." Who exactly is Bloomberg playing to with this screed? So, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and its enforcement are to blame for predatory lending?

August 27, 2007

            This week we look north to Mount Vernon, just over the Westchester line. Mayor Ernest Davis, nothing if not a hipster, may also be more than that. Sources say that during his mayoralty, his income has soared -- there's a talk of Bentley luxury automobile, and of Davis wearing an ankle bracelet transponding to law enforcement. Mount Vernon, then, is above The Bronx, but just like it...

            Also Bronx-like is the park in Red Hook were tacos and Salvadoran pupusas are sold. First the Parks Department said they'd put the concessions up for bid; now the Health Department says the vendors can't bring home-cooked food for sale anymore. But home-cooked is part of the point. And what about those selling tamales out of coolers, and corn on the cob with mayonnaise and grated parmesan cheese? Note to City: just leave these people alone...

     Rather, the City should be looking into real hazards, such as in Belmont, the slap-dash leaving of a hole in the street at Third Avenue and 183rd Street by "SMC," which left metal plates so loose that a car, or bicycle, could easily fall into the hole in the pavement beneath...

August 20, 2007

  On a Cablevision "public interest" show, Bronx BP Carrion said he aims to become a Met fan in 2009, for now he's just trying to "create a conversation with New York." But when asked about whether all Bronxites really benefit from these developments, many of which are unaffordable, Carrion was dismissive, saying that all projects have critics, "just like Westway." No, taking a public park, and displacing Bronx businesses for a subsidized mall, we are not fish but Bronxites....

August 13, 2007

  This week, why doesn't the Bronx have venues like this? Traveling Saturday to the Africa Fest in Prospect Park, the 2 train for a full hour to Grand Army Plaza then the walk, one first came up Panamanian music on a hill behind the Brooklyn Public Library. A man stood rapping in front of a wall of speakers, a crowd undulated and clapped and food was for sale under at least a dozen awnings. A half-mile away, fronting Park Slope, a more formal stage with ads for Bud Light and the Village Voice, and on stage the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, celebrating the day of that country's landmark election. The mix, one undulator mused, was surprisingly heavy with reggae. The left-handed lead guitarist played fast and high-pitched West African riffs, and sang accompanied only by drums. The suggested contribution to enter was three dollars. Why doesn't the Bronx have venues like this?

In UN - Bloomberg Fire Safety Stand-Off, Freedom of Information Is Lacking

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, August 11 -- As New York City's Bloomberg administration ratchets up pressure on the UN to fix the 866 violation found in the most recent inspection, Bloomberg's Fire Department has denied access to the report of inspection, even to accredited media who work in the UN headquarters.

            Bloomberg's sister and commissioner for the UN, Marjorie B. Tiven, has written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that he is "putting at risk the lives of the people who work and visit the United Nations."

            But when a formal request for the list of violations was made by Inner City Press under New York's Freedom of Information Law, it was denied in full, ostensibly because releasing the report could endanger the safety of persons.

            This correspondent filed an appeal, emphasizing in part that as a person working inside the UN, knowing and reporting the specifics of the violations could help promote, and not endanger, safety. In this case, ignorance is not bliss -- it simply compounds the danger.

            On August 8 the Fire Department's FOIL appeal official informed Inner City Press that no portion of the inspection report will be provided. Asked for the basis of the denial, the official said it's contained in a formal ruling which has yet to be received (but will be sent to the NYS Committee on Open Government).

            While Inner City Press may challenge the withholding of the UN report in New York Supreme Court, which it has previously prevail in other FOIL litigation, one should not have to sue to get access to the City's safety inspections, particularly when the City is making loud claims about the reports.

            The Bloomberg administration previously sought to withhold safety information about the 9/11/01 attacks, until sued by the media and families of the victims. One hopes that is not necessary here.

            In recent days, UN fire team personnel have been much more visible in the headquarters building. Patrols by themselves, however, do not resolve the safety problems. Trying to explain the UN's basis for leaving violations, the Department of Management's Lena Dissin told the Washington Post, "If we install a fire sprinkler system in the entire building and they will have to be torn out, this is not something the members states will be happy about."

            But earlier this year, knowing even then of the UN Capital Master Plan for gut rehabilitation, the UN paid over $130,000, begrudgingly disclosed to Inner City Press, to install over its basement Vienna Cafe a ventilation system to remove cigarette smoke. (Since the UN is on international territory, it is argued that Mayor Bloomberg's anti-smoking ordinance do not apply in the UN.)

            Ms. Dissin's boss, Under Secretary General for Management Alicia Barcena, has three times this year said that the UN will be enacting a Freedom of Information procedure, if not law. If these promises had been carried out, the inspection report could be requested and obtained from the UN itself.

            In higher profile safety and secrecy news, on August 10 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office to confirm or deny that in connection with the UN's plan to expand in Iraq, the Secretariat told the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions that it wants to spend $130 million on a new UN headquarters in Baghdad, and that ACABQ responded negatively. Video here, from Minute 9:27.

  The Associate Spokesman said he did not think any dollar figure had been made public. Now could he say what the UN will do to dispose of such Iraq-related items as a Scud missile engine and target-seeking gyroscopes, held on 48th Street and First Avenue, click here for that Inner City Press story.

            Beyond "a plague on both your houses" for withholding information, those most impacted by lack of safety precautions should not be kept in the dark. Safety in Iraq may be a long way off, but on the East Side of Bloomberg's Manhattan, safety and the public release of information about safety should be the rule. Watch this site.

August 6, 2007

  As reported by the Daily News, "The state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services was about to sign a lease to temporarily move the Mount Sinai Narcotics Rehabilitation Center to 105A Bruckner Blvd. while the clinic's Harlem site was being renovated. Borough President Adolfo Carrion and Community Board 1 requested the plan be ditched because the area, already home to six clinics, is overburdened by drug treatment centers. OASAS has agreed to find a location outside the Bronx. The methadone clinic 'would not be economically, environmentally or socially compatible with the surrounding community,'" wrote Carrion -- who,  Inner City Press notes, used to work for OASAS-licensed drug treatment center PROMESA....

July 30, 2007

            This week we report a Bronxy business opening. Tuff City Tattoos has hooked up the previously-cursed storefront on Belmont Ave. and Fordham Road with mock subway cars, in which tattooing is performed in private. There's graffiti on the wall, behind a chain link fence. While for-profit, it's reminiscent of the defunct Fashion Moda gallery on 146th Street, reborn in 2007 as body art. Also reflecting the incipient gentrification and suburbanization of The Bronx, Tuff City is across the street from a low-rise Commerce Bank branch, complete with parking lot and lawn and sprinkler system on timer. Tattoo-seekers, watch out for those automatic sprinklers -- they turn on at 2 a.m....

  From the Department of No Sleight Is Too Small, we point to this, a bike shop closing its (North) Bronx location, on the rationale that "to better serve our customers, we've decided to consolidate all our efforts on the Manhattan location."  Sounds like a bank...

July 23, 2007

  Below is Inner City Press' piece about the steam pipe explosion, reported from the UN, with a Bronx quesion later answered, at the bottom, with an update:

From the UN, the World's Most Famous Steam Pipe Incident Raises Underlying Questions

 Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, July 19 -- As far East as First Avenue, in front of the UN, the sidewalks were full of people, pointing their cell phone cameras down 42nd Street at the smoke. Rumors circulated. A building had collapsed. Grand Central had been attacked. And, of course, terrorism.

            Inside the UN, the loudspeaker system carried a security announcement, "Avoid 42nd Street, there has been an incident." It was reminiscent of the crash of the small plane, with the Yankees pitcher aboard, on the Upper East Side. World news because it happens in Manhattan. Some international correspondents ran into the street, flashing police press passes to get ever closer. Finally a police woman on 3rd Avenue said, "Get the hell back!"

    Because it was a steam pipe, it led the turned-back UN correspondents to muse about what lies beneath... the UN. It has been confirmed to Inner City Press by a well-placed (that is, low down) source that beyond the publicly-reported three sub-basements, there are two more floors underground. There are pipes, there are leaking boilers, and yes there is asbestos. If a similar incident occurred on the UN's campus, which is international territory, how would the City's access be? The City for now denies those who work at the UN access to records about their own safety. And the UN, of course, is not talking...

            Wednesday at dusk, traffic was turned away at 35th Street, Second Avenue was jammed. Later, after dusk, Mike Bloomberg and entourage showed up to hold a press conference amid the sirens. Each of his commissioners addressed him as, "Yes, Mayor," "thanks, Mayor," not a Mister Mayor was said. Clearly an internal order. Would this be his Giuliani moment?

            The commission for busses and subways referred to Woodlawn Road in The Bronx. Con Ed's man contradicted the Mayor's 24 inch pipe with a twenty. There was questions about asbestos. "Take precautions," people were told. But what precautions?

  The City later bragged that "three NYPD helicopters monitored the incident, including one with FD personnel on board providing live TV feeds to operations on the ground."

            On cable television's NY1, a hype poll was held. Would you stay in New York if there were another terrorist incident? Yes -- but not if steam pipes keep breaking. Although a woman died, of a heart attack, some calling in to NY1 joked. "I was so scared," a woman began," that I had to scream... let's go Mets!"

   By 1:30 a.m., still access to Grand Central was blocked except from the north, from 45th Street through the Met Life building. To its credit, Metro-North railroad was running, after having been subject to delays all morning due to rain. (A flier left on train seats said that three of the four tracks running through Fordham Station in The Bronx had been flooded. Why was not clear -- see below)

   At three in the morning, Team Bloomberg announced that

"sidewalk sheds must be installed before the sidewalks are reopened to the public. The addresses of the buildings are 360 Lexington Avenue, 369 Lexington Avenue, 370 Lexington Avenue, and 380 Lexington Avenue. Buildings forensic engineers have determined water collected in the basements of two nearby buildings will need to be removed. The addresses of these buildings are 369 Lexington Avenue and 375 Lexington Avenue."

   Oh, plywood. The e-mail press release, repeated at 6:30 a.m., instructed the media to "emphasize to their viewers, listeners, or readers that people who work between 40th and 43rd Streets and between Vanderbilt Avenue to Third Avenue zone will not be permitted to enter the area on Thursday morning."

   Consider it done. Turning full circle to the UN, staffers along First Avenue wondered if their colleagues in the Chrysler Building, UNFPA and UNOPS and others, would get or take the day off. One mused that today's logistics is the kind in UNOPS' mandate, an opportunity missed, again.

  July 22 update -- Only in Connecticut to suburbites did Metro-North explain itself:

"Metro-North Railroad officials noticed the flooding at about 7:15 a.m. at the Fordham, N.Y., station, which services the New Haven and Harlem lines, railroad spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said. 'There was water running over the rails on the two outside tracks at Fordham,' Anders said. 'So we couldn't make any stops at Bronx stations.'"

  Inner City Press annotation: what then about those metal walk-ways that reach to the middle tracks? They chose not to stop at Bronx stations...

 "The flooding caused a bottleneck, forcing all morning rush-hour trains into Grand Central to run on two of the railroad's four available tracks, Anders said. While the railroad waited for the flooding to recede on the other two tracks, it suspended service out of Grand Central for about an hour, affecting mainly reverse commuters, Anders added."

   Like the ones in The Bronx, trying to get to jobs in Westchester. And what about the red Connecticut trains which stop in The Bronx, but don't allow on any passengers -- even if, due to Metro-North, the commuters are already half an hour later? To be continued.

  Another update: the Vincent Ciccarone playground at 188th and Arthur Avenue, which was fenced and locked up all last summer and all of this spring, finally re-opened. The handball and basketball courts are gone. But little kids like it. Was the year and a half closure worth it? Most people say no. There's a small grassy knoll, with a sprinkler on it. What's done is done...

July 16, 2007

  Next in a series, 'cause summer only comes once a year: in the current street fair on 187th Street in The Bronx, there's the three story high Monkey Maze, between Belmont and Cambrelleng Avenues. Further west, there's been a fire, at Lucy's Zeppoles. Some wondered: the outbreak of a pastry war? Bad karma from doling out cold zeppoles even as hot ones come out of the grease? The investigation continues.

     More seriously, long-time Bronx (and Chilean) activist Victor Toro, founder in 1987 of La Pena del Bronx, was recently detained by immigration in upstate Rochester. As they say in Soundview (and elsewhere), "let the brother go! Let the brother go!"

  For Inner City Press' reporting on Somalia, see Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

July 9, 2007

   Summertime, summertime. This week let's compare downtown Brooklyn and environs at night with the midnight streetscape of The Bronx. Just off Fort Greene Park there is Habana Outpost, a lot with tables and lights and even movies, near restaurant of South Africa and Senegal, and even New Orleans. Bluppy, is a word that comes to mind. What's to compare in The Bronx? Take the D train for an hour from DeKalb to Tremont and look: old men in beach chairs with dominos, the sirens screen, the hip hop club on Webster is closed, the jumping-est corner now is 180 and Third, dueling clubs with drunken patrons smashing bottles in the street. On Fordham Road summer session means that bars are once again open. But there are no outdoor movies, or Senegalese restaurants, anywhere in sight...

            Tales of the City Hall press corps, we report, you decide: l'affaire Viola Plumber, her assassination threat, might have gone unreported. After the Sonny Carson-Gate(s) vote, Ms. Plumber made the comment in front of three reporters: Rivera of the Times, Newsday and the Staten Island Advance. The Times, which elsewhere named a whistleblower without notice or consent, decided to not report Ms. Plumber's comment. But the reporter from Staten Island told an Observer blogger, who put the item online, where Murdoch's Post picked it up. What were the ethics, of reporting or not reporting? Discuss...

July 2, 2007

  Last week we headed south (see letter below). This week, north -- bike up Southern Boulevard and past French Charlie Park, where the Millennium Little League plays and cocito is sold, barbeques fry and motorcycles fly by. Bike up to Gun Hill Road, where there's an impromptu Nascar-like track for remote controlled cars. There's also, up on 212th Street, a Jamaica health food store with sweet carrot juice for four dollars, on the expensive side but good. Summer's here...

From the mailbag--

Thanks ! The Gardens down here from East 152 - 161st street are but a memory to those of us that held them. Once a gardener myself. I remember the Bradleys proposal back when it came in to Planning Board #1. This was in the Land Use Committee and then-Senator David Rosado fielded the meeting. The District Manager then Bob (Robert) Crespo said the Senator got furious with the reps from Bradley and kicked them Out, telling them to never return (he was very irate) apparently they tried to blow off the Stipulated Requirement to hire a percentage of Local Bronx Residents stating they bring their own staff & employees with them., well that wouldn't do - and thus we have a Staples, et al there today instead. Thanks again for your news reports and continued interest in The Bronx - It's fun & refreshing reading ...

June 25, 2007

  From emptiness to overbuilt, Third Avenue south from 180th Street, gardens gone between 178 and 179, Mastermind's office space waiting, even as the Dunkin Donuts is hardly ever in use. Across from the police station which stood in for Fort Apache, another building looms. Where once Bradley's was promised, there's a sign for Forman Mills. Even a Staples. The Bronx, they say, is back. Copy and print...

June 18, 2007

  An inconvenient question that it seems no one has asked: with private businesses including Ridgewood Savings Bank and (Capital One's) North Fork Bank paying for TV ads which feature the sitting borough president, who aim to run for mayor, aren't these in essence campaign contributions?

   More fireworks: Police seized 3 1/2 tons of illegal fireworks worth $50,000 last week. They pulled over an 18-foot rig containing more than 7,000 pounds of fireworks at East 181st Street and Belmont Avenue. Meanwhile six blocks north, the street fair goes on...

June 11, 2007

   Summer has arrived, and with it, street fairs. On June 9, 187th Street between Arthur and Cambrelleng was jammed with celebrants. There was Whack a Mole and nuns selling popcorn. There were old school rocking cover bands by Arthur, and merengue-fueled "Dunk the Freak" on Belmont. There were spice sausages and calzone, but also tacos and corn on the cob. The playground on Arthur and 188 was still closed; throughout the week a handful of workers putter around. Thanks, Parks Department, this "improvement" project has really been working for us...

  Filed with the New York Banking Department:

Dear Superintendent Neiman:

  On behalf of the Fair Finance Watch and its affiliates (collectively, "FFW"), this is a timely comment opposing and requesting public hearing on, and complete copy of, the applications by New York Commercial Bank to acquire 11 branches of Doral Financial. Notice was published in the Weekly Bulletin of May 18, with comment period to June 18, and this is still the notice, as of this submission, on

Weekly Bulletin of May 18, 2007

Comment Period expires June 18, 2007

May 18, 2007 (CB-CRB)


1601 Veterans Highway, Islandia, N.Y. 11749

Application pursuant to Section 601-a of the Banking Law, for the prior approval of the Superintendent, to acquire certain assets and assume certain liabilities of Doral Bank, to acquire First Republic Bank, R1-2007-0134.

  FFW is puzzled to see, and hereby requests a detailed explanation of, the fact that the NYBD at some subsequent time tried to partially change the comment period -- in a notice which Inner City Press has only now seen, and which even when partially posted, provided less than 10 days.

         The result of this unexplained is to try to exclude public comment on this proposed acquisition. In any event, this comment must be considered timely.

         The 2005 HMDA data of New York Community Bank for the New York City MSA shows, for conventional home purchase loans, 17 loans to whites, and only one to an African American. For refinance loans, 49 to whites and only five to African Americans; 3 of 9 applications denied for African Americans, versus only 10 of 70 from whites. FFW is requesting public hearings on these disparities.

         It is particularly important that NYCB's data be subject to public scrutiny in that NYCB has previously sought to make its own HMDA data unanalyzable by providing it only in pdf format. See, on this topic, American Banker of April 11, 2005

   There is more to say, including on NYCB's multi-family lending and on Doral's situation, but FFW is filing this as soon as it saw the changed comment period date, and well within the comment period of the initial, accurate notice (and still the comment period leading to the comment form). FFW requests an explanation as quickly as possible.


June 4, 2007

  While we're fans of the library, we also report: Susan Kent has resigned as
director and chief executive of the Branch Libraries at the NYPL.  This was announced by email to staff on May 2 from NYPL president Paul LeClerc and Kent herself, with no reason given. We remember the hoopla when she was hired from LA, and when the Bronx Library Center on Kingsbridge Road, opened in January 2006. David Ferriero, head of the Research Libraries, will oversee the branches on an interim basis. LJ says she and NYPL execs have been criticized by union officials for cutting tuition assistance; a grievance is ongoing. Oh yeah, reading is good for you...

May 28, 2007

   Here's a question for Metro-North Railroad President Peter A. Cannito: why do so many of the trains that stop at Fordham Road not take on passengers? Bronxites pay good money to get faster to Grand Central. Then they are not allowed to get on trains that their money helps pay for. On some trains, they threaten that if you do you on, you'll have to pay as if you got on at the beginning of the run -- even after you've paid MetroNorth for the Fordham - Grand Central run. So what's the answer, Mr. Cannito? Or maybe Dan Doctoroff, who shared a press release last week with Cannito, about a planned new Yankee Stadium stop, can answer it...

   The killing of Fermin Arzu has given rise to protests, but still very little has been said by the police.

May 21, 2007

   On May 18, a 40-something man stole a chair and crucifix from Dreams jewelry store at 651 Elton Avenue, rode on a bike west on 153rd Street and got hit by a bus. As he lay dying on Melrose Avenue, someone stole the chain from him. The jewelry store owner Lakhwinder Singh still called the bus-hit "justice".... Despite the too-expensive Melrose Commons development, the neighborhood was also the scene on May 13 of the kicking to death of Fernando Maldonado outside the Melrose Houses on 154th Street...

May 14, 2007

   The speaker slated for Bronx Community College's June 1 graduation has reminisced about Dr. Richard Izquierdo in the South Bronx: "Often my mother or grandmother did not have the money to pay him for his services, but he never turned us away and on more than one occasion accepted arroz con pollo instead of cash."

            Not so the head of Bronx Lebanon, Miguel Fuentes, who beyond the $485,274 a year previously disclosed to the Daily News makes more....

May 7, 2007

            Now that it has warmed up, the outrage on Arthur Avenue has grown worse. All of last summer, and now into this Spring, the Vincent Ciccarone playground on 188th Street has been fenced off and unusable. With much fanfare, the City announced that the playground, which was fine and much used, would be fixed. One whole summer of use was lost, and now with Spring here, still it is fenced. Weekdays, there are a handful of workers putting in paving stones and puttering around. It seems the City gave the contract to a company too small or too distracted to do it. And of course this was called an improvement for the neighborhood -- a playground of a use for more than a year, for an unneeded fix up. The contact is # X102-105M and the contractor if Total Construction of Brooklyn...

            In happier news from the same neighborhood, Saturday saw a Cinco de Mayo shindig on Crescent Avenue and 186th Street, at which Goya Foods gave out free tostadas, Le Fe gave out peace and guava nectar, and a domino set was auctioned off. Springtime is here (except in the playground, of course).

            An update to last week item about concerns about the fair lending record of Ridgewood Savings Bank, which seeks to acquire City & Suburban's branches in The Bronx and elsewhere: on May 3, Ridgewood's CRA officer sent a letter to regulators saying that Ridgewood "shares the concerns of FFW for fair lending." But then Ridgewood has not a word to say about the disparities in its 2006 lending data....

April 30, 2007

      There is a local bank merger proposed that ICP Fair Finance Watch has just opposed -- the applications by Ridgewood Saving Bank to acquire City & Suburban Federal Savings Bank. FFW has received the 2006 and 2005 HMDA LARs of both institutions. Ridgewood, the proposed acquirer, orginates many more mortgage loans, but in a seemingly disparate manner. In 2006, Ridgewood originated 618 loans to whites, and only 21 to African Americans and only 20 to
Latinos. Ridgewood’s denial rate for Latinos (30.8%) was more than double its denial rate for whites (14.6%); for African Americans, Ridgewood’s denial rate was 23.7%.

  City & Suburban makes almost no mortgage loans. As Ridgewood has acknowledged to FFW, “there are only 21 files for 2005 and 19 for
2006.” The LARs provided show no loans to African Ameicans or Latinos.

   Comparing Ridgewood in 2006 to 2005, its record got worse. While its overall mortgage origination volume declined, it declined more for African Americans than for whites, and more for Latinos than for whites. On the current record, FFW has requested that Ridgewood’s applications be denied

April 23, 2007

From the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, Inner City Press on April 21 received a copy of Bank of New York's heavily redacted application to acquire Mellon. BONY revised its still-too-extensive redactions to its application on April 16;  ICP has a right to comment on this material. BONY, which initially did not respond as other banks did to FFW's request for 2006 HMDA data, finally provided its data on April 20.

            In the most recent year for which HMDA data is (now) available, 2006, Bank of New York confined residents of The Bronx, the most predominantly minority county in New York State, to higher cost loans over the Federal Reserve-determined rate spread TWENTY FIVE times more frequently than residents of Manhattan, and 2.92 times more frequently than residents of Westchester County. As the FRB will remember, Bank of New York initially fought to exclude The Bronx from its CRA assessment area. Now BONY has a disparate lending record in The Bronx -- and Brooklyn too, where BONY in 2006 confined borrowers to rate spread loans 10.7 times more frequently than Manhattan.

   This is much worse, particularly in The Bronx, than in 2005, when BONY confined its Bronx borrowers to higher cost loans over the rate spread 7.87 times more frequently than in more affluent and less minority Manhattan. Bank of New York's disparity-ratio between borrowers in Brooklyn and Manhattan was 6.5. Both got worse in 2006. FFW demands public hearings, including on BONY's multi-faceted enabling of other predatory lenders, its admissions of money laundering, its secretiveness and anti-competitive effects. ICP contends that this proposed combination would be anti-competitive. BONY apparently disagreed, but the bases of its argument are still being hidden, with entire pages of its antitrust memo blacked-out. BONY repeatedly cites the case Inner City Press v. FRB, then redacts even portions of its argument. FFW has contested these redactions and withholdings, and requested an extension of the comment period until the information to which FFW and the public have a right is released.

  Click here for ICP from Carnegie Hall last week...

April 16, 2007

  Downtown -- Predatory Lending in NY Compared to S&L Crisis, As Subcrime Disparities Worsen

    Investment banks on Wall Street have been facilitators of the shady loans that have the subprime lending industry in crisis. This message was delivered on Wednesday April 11 by the ex- Wall Street banker nominated as Superintendent of the New York Banking Department, Richard Neiman.

   Delivering his first speech in that capacity, Mr. Neiman had comparisons to the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s, and harkened back to the 1970s for the lending discrimination called redlining, which he implied was a thing of the past. Now, he said, there is reserve redlining, in which African Americans and Latinos are targeted for high cost loans.

            Eliot Spitzer, now hitting his 100th day as New York's governor, picked as his Banking Superintendent a long-time bank lawyer with Citigroup and more recently part of the Toronto Dominion conglomerate.  Some community representatives who spoke to Inner City Press on condition of anonymity, because they have to deal with the Banking Department, expressed concern that despite the speech Mr. Neiman may based on his resume be too close to industry, or unwilling to consider that his previous employers have engaged in abusive lending practices. Citigroup, for example, is noteworthy for having twice settled predatory lending charges, with the Federal Trade Commission for $240 million and with the Federal Reserve Board for $75 million in 2004.

            More recently, just-released 2006 data distinguishing which loans are over a federally-defined rate spread of three percent over the yield on Treasury securities of comparable duration on first lien loans, five percent on subordinate liens show that Citigroup in its headquarters Metropolitan Statistical Area of New York City, confined African Americans to higher-cost loans above this rate spread 4.41 times more frequently than whites. Toronto Dominion's U.S. mortgage data in 2006, while generally not subprime, reflect that African Americans were confined to higher cost loans over the rate spread 16 times more frequently than whites, and Latinos 12 times more frequently than whites. 

        Perhaps because of his background, or also because his nomination still awaits action by the State Senate, Mr. Neiman on Wednesday thanked the many industry representatives in NYU's Lubin Auditorium, as well as other regulators. Click here for more.

    Promesa Inc.,  Bronx non-profit whose bookkeeper was killed execution-style in the 1990s, is now embroiled in a dispute with its staff. A work stoppage was planned for April 10, following an earlier one-day stoppage on March 28. The dispute concerns among other things Promesa's insistence in paying 5% of workers' salaries into a 401(k) plan rather than 6.65% into a pension in the style of Local 1199. Following the March 28 walk-out, the parties met at the office of Bronx Borough President Carrion, who used to work for Promesa. According to sources, a schedule for further negotiations was set, but has not been kept to. Promesa CEO Ruben Medina has mysteriously been in Florida, which Promesa previously lent its non-profit status to a local politician who wanted to develop a for-profit mall.  These sources also say that there are once again bookkeeping irregularities within Promesa -- on paper, millions of dollars in the black, in reality, the red is flowing.

  In what some Promesa staff find a creepy (non) coincidence, Louie Morales, a SEIU union organization at Promesa died in November 2006, by a rare two-shot suicide.  Click here for more. We'll be following both of these items.

April 9, 2007

   Consider Westchester Avenue, from Jackson to 149th. The elevated stop at Jackson was closed to train traffic from 10:30 to 3 on Good Friday, with no real replacement, just the regular 4 bus. A crowd gathered in front of the token booth. The turnstiles all said, "No Entry." Some passengers stood halfway down the stairs, to see which would come first, the first post-3 p.m. train, or the jammed-full Number 4 bus. There has to be a better way...

   Meanwhile in The Hub, the hot dog vendors are out, including the couple who stake out Westchester and 3rd. They've upgraded their van, to a white one with a sign on the side, "Hot Dog Vendor," Parkside Place, Bronx NY. We wish them luck.

            Last week's scaffold collapse on Southern Boulevard and Home Street, on the other hand, is the result of bad karma...

4/4/07-- "Banks Prone to Sell Minorities Pricy Loans," Reuters / Washington Post

Citigroup was most disparate in the lowest-income borough its headquarters city. Citigroup in 2006 confined borrowers in Bronx County to higher cost loans 19.6 times more frequently than borrowers in Manhattan. The disparity between Manhattan and Brooklyn at Citigroup in 2006 was 14.77.

April 2, 2007

   Parts of the old Sears on Fordham Road and Webster are now being demolished. The largest part of the building has been swathed in black netting. A sign has gone on top, Fordham Place, with telephone numbers to call to lease space in the new building. Across the street at Planchette, in the morning even for breakfast they serve crushed plantain mangu, with onions on top, and fried cheese. Later at night, psycho bus drivers rule. Three teens got on, saying they had no money. For at least five minutes the driver bantered with them. Sensing he was going to go Bernard Goetz, some riders started getting off. Big money maker for the MTA...

  Continuing on the Bronx transit theme, who among us hasn't taken MetroNorth from Grand Central and fallen asleep, only to wake up at Mount Vernon West at past 2 a.m., no gypsy cabs in sight, and walked back along the Bronx River to the sleepy last outpost of the Bronx, end of the 2 train, 241 Street where the homeless sleep in trains until at 3 am they head south? Who?

March 26, 2007

   Late Saturday March 24, a four train rolled into 149th and Grand Concourse and announced it would now go express up to Burnside. It opened its doors to let passengers off -- on the wrong side. An announcement urged people to get back on the train and wait for the doors on the other side to open. When the did, people missed the next train, by ten or fifteen seconds. Thanks, MTA...

March 19, 2007

   Now St. Barnabas Hospital is trying to track down 300 people it exposed to tuberculosis. The city Health Departemnt's Dr. Sonal Munsiff said that "People who have been near the hospital do not need to worry about it. Only the people we have identified need to be evaluated."  So you and St. Barney's screwed up and allowed exposure, and now people are supposed to believe your statement that those " near the hospital do not need to worry about it." Why not?

  Bronx schools added to the SURR school list, in danger of being closed: Intermediate School 232; I.S. 339; J.H.S. 22 ; and Middle School 203 in Mott Haven.

  In the New York media scene, Channel 7's embattled Steve Bartelstein has been cut loose, this time for sleeping through an assignment of covering the aftermath of the fire on Woodycrest Avenue.

March 12, 2007

   This week, it's film, from a Bronxite and downtown. Former police officer Billy Lappe shot "Even Steven" for $4000 in Tremont and Pelham Bay. It is a revenge fantasy, in which a cop turns a child molester over to the parents of the child-victim. Lappe now wants to make a full-length version.  Perhaps the below is a cautionary tale:

            Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako's ''Bamako" was gushed over in the New York Times of Feb. 14, and a month later was still playing at the Film Forum on West Houston Street in Manhattan, "held over" as they say. Arriving from the United Nations at 9:45 for the 9:40 screening, the ticket-taker said, "Don't worry, the first ten minutes is just a court proceeding."  She could have said, the whole movie is a mock court proceeding. From speeches about the World Bank delivered in a courtyard with stand-up electric fans, the film cuts into a parody of spaghetti westerns, this one starring Danny Glover. People sit fanning themselves, listening to the trial over loudspeakers. Review: one wants to like the concept, and it would work for 15, maybe 30 minutes. But as a feature length film?

March 5, 2007

   The Bronx Borough President has said there's a plan and even negotiations afoot to put a cultural center in an existing "historical" building on the Grand Concourse "somewhere in the 160s." Very cloak-and-dagger...

  Downtown, much of the UN press corps has been in a frenzy tracking the foreign minister of the Kim Jong Il government of North Korea, from San Francisco to New York, where he's slated to meet with Christopher Hill at the U.S. Mission. In San Francisco, Japan's NHK television is said to have rented five motorcycles to try to find Minister Kim.  In New York, reporters flocked out to the airport, awaiting a certain (or uncertain) United Airlines flight, and then camped out in front of the Millennium Plaza hotel, in the same structure at UNDP, and awaited him. They got a wave, and not much more. Inner City Press, meanwhile, reported on UNDP's suspension of operation in North Korea - click here to view.

February 26, 2007

  Entry of the insiders? On Feb. 21, NYS governor Spitzer announced his pick to head the NY Banking Department. Might it be a consumer advocate, or public interest lawyer, or even a bank banker? No, an executive from Toronto Dominion Banknorth's TD Bank and Citibank  before that, Richard H. Neiman. During his tenure at TD, the bank tried to claim that -- five b's alert -- buying bonds backed by Battery Park City satisfied the Community Reinvestment Act's requirement of low- and moderate-income lending. Battery Park City, low-income? That was some lawyering. Of Citigroup, click here.

At Inner City Press, we try to be judicious in our use of the authenticity and / or nativist cards. In the Belmont neighborhood of The Bronx, there used to be an ad hoc group called "Quality of Life." It met in the library on 186th and Hughes and discussed such things as street crime. Maybe the groups is still around. A new Qualify of Life issue has emerged: the glut of talkative tourists who fill the neighborhood and its stores on weekends. It's fine to drive in from Westchester or Long Island for bread and ravioli. Just decide in advance what you want, and then buy it. Don't stand around asking questions, compare, luxuriating in the "old world charm" of what for locals is just a store. This is not a mall, not a theme park...

  Webster - Fordham update: behind the now-closed Sears, a fence is going up, jutting far out into Fordham Plaza. Whose sidewalk? Their sidewalk, apparently...

February 19, 2007

            The Bronx is frozen, and the Sears on Fordham Road is boarded up. The "Store Closing" signs are gone. The store is now closed. This week, two reviews: Las Orquideas and the re-begun Bronx Beat.

            Opening recently is a new Latin restaurant on 187th Street, between Beaumont and Cambrelleng Avenues. We say Latin because, despite the awning referring only to Mexican food, inside there are alcapurias and pastelillos, and the jukebox is top-heavy with salsa. Inside, the brick walls are lacquered and plastic curtains swing in the back of the storefront. Order tacos, chicken and beef, and take a seat. At least in this early period of Las Orquideas, many of those who enter are unsure what to expect. One a recent Sunday -- okay, Feb. 18 -- a family came in, looked around for menu and couldn't find one. They went back outside. The grill man followed, then said in a bitter tone, "They've crossed the street." The sing-song lure of takeout Chinese food. But for those who stayed, the tacos were quite good, if dry. Ask for crèma to be brought. It comes, in small quantities, on a glass sauce bowl. The tacos cost $2.50 each. We suggest adding a menu on the wall, and making clear from outside that Puerto Rican food is also sold. With these slight changes, we think Orquideas can make it.

            The Bronx Beat is a 12-page weekly published each spring by the Columbia School of Journalism. It has often been suggested to the Beat that more follow-ups could benefit the Bronx. Unavoidably, each spring has new student-reporters. But do they reach the last years' issues? The recent first edition of 2007 has color photos on four of the 12 pages. The front page story, on Bronx politics, has no balance at all. No opponents were sought out. The other page 1 story derived from the 12 worst slumlord story already done by all the dailies. On the positive side, an article following up on a business displaced from Bronx Terminal Market was something not seen elsewhere. Follow up is king. To be continued.

            Click here for Inner City Press daily reporting, mostly from the UN.

February 12, 2007

  From the New York Post of February 6: "During the recession of 1991, The Bronx recorded just 22 residential housing permits. Last year, it registered more than 200 times as many... Carrion noted that property values in his borough spurted 75 percent in five years. 'It's a little scary,' he said. But he added: 'The positives far outweigh the negatives.'"  That's a cost-benefit analysis that we'd like to see, and see debated, from the perspective of most Bronxites, who are renters...

  We're glad to see that even the tabloids could see the scam of FedEx's "groundbreaking" on 132nd Street and St. Ann's Avenue. In exchange for traffic and fumes, FedEx will bring employees from its Manhattan location. What's in it for The Bronx? A sidebar to the story: as Inner City Press was first to report, FedEx has previously dissed The Bronx, by closing its location in Fordham Plaza and leaving central Bronxites with nowhere to send from...

  No job too small: Cablevision's News 12 The Bronx went back this week to the scene of a storefront fire on 183rd Street, reporting breathlessly that the 99 Cent store was still closed and quoting an unnamed neighborhood resident that this was no big deal, "there are a lot of other dollar stores two blocks away." Breaking news, that...

Last week HSBC issued a profit warning heard 'round the world. Its purchase of the predatory lender Household International is now bringing the whole company down. The Times of London called Inner City Press to say, "Guess you guys were right, when you wrote to the HSBC board of director that Household was unsafe and unsound."  Yep... See, e.g., "Sub-prime lenders fear defaults after costly HSBC fallout," Times of London, Feb. 10, 2007.

February 5, 2007

  In the wake of last week's City Council report on the rent-to-own industry, we're reminded of when LISC wanted to locate a Rent-a-Center in its subsidized mall on 174th Street, click here for that, and on more recent fringe finance issues, see "Protest filed against BofA's deal for U.S. Trust," by Rick Rothacker, Charlotte Observer, Jan. 27, 2007

  Speaking of reports, according to the Daily News, Weiner's says that "The Bronx has the highest density of registered sex offenders. Its Morrisania and Tremont neighborhoods also have the highest percentage of offenders living within a tenth of a mile of a school, followed by Bushwick, Brooklyn."  The News then quotes a canned expert, "It is unfortunate but unsurprising that poorer neighborhoods have the most sex offenders because that's where the cheapest housing is."  So there *is* at least one benefit of the continuing attempt, including by elected officials, to gentrify The Bronx...

   From last week's Newsday: "Wrigley Field also blows away Yankee Stadium, especially if you compare the neighborhoods that surround both ballparks." And the solution is to spend over one billion dollars to build a new, unneeded stadium?

  Bee-line we have awaited thee: the bus line, with routes in Westchester County and the Bronx, says it will start accepting MetroCards on April 1. Mount Vernon here we come!

January 29, 2007

  This week we review... The Bronx on the web. In Georgia, they don't think much of the Bronx -- "the Bronx, it was like, 'Oh. Oh. Watch out.'" But in Minneapolis, they like the Bronx' Afrika Bambaataa.  On Long Island, they raise funds from Bronxites in a shelter that's run by the ex-Ramon Velez empire. And in Greenburgh, NY, a Bronx-based cop is caught trolling for troubling on, where else, the Internet.

  Also on the 'Net, Inner City Press' Fair Finance Watch has filed a timely challenge to  Bank of America's application to acquire U.S. Trust, click here for Charlotte Observer article...

January 22, 2007

    The public radio station WNYC is the outlet for, among other things, On the Media and BBC Radio. [Click here for a recent BBC piece on Inner City Press' reporting from the United Nations.] But on Jan. 17, WNYC ran a report, about there being too many bank branches in New York, which exposed its various biases, including as regards The Bronx. Correspondent Lisa Chow joked that in New York -- she didn't say, Manhattan -- there are bank branches on every corner, too many of them. 

            Note to Ms. Chow and to WNYC: come for example to the neighborhoods around the Morris Houses projects in the Bronx. Around the perimeter there are pawn shops, check cashers and the like. But there is not a single bank branch. Rather than take a single two dollar train ride, WNYC gave air time to the head of North Fork Bank, recently cashed-out as a multi-millionaire to the subprime Capital One, who agreed there are branches "everywhere" in New York City. He is a confirmed redliner, so the spin is less surprising. But from public radio?

January 14, 2007

   What is progress? Much has been made of property values in The Bronx rising 28%. Has this helped most Bronxites? Most here are renters. Deals are announced: an overseas group buying 372 apartment in The Bronx, a mall is sold to a real estate conglomerate for $165 milllion, a Limited Liability Company selling a South Bronx building for $64,000 per unit. What's in it for Bronxites, other than higher rents? And yet it's described without equivocation as progress. But for whom?

January 8, 2007

  Chicken war mysteries: last week's arson of Twin Donuts in Hunts Point by the owner of the Kennedy Fried Chicken next door gave rise to coverage on News 12 then the Daily News, which said of suspect Kabeer Ahmad, 32, that his "court-appointed attorney, Timothy Bennett, could not be reached for comment." Why would the owner of a fried chicken franchise have a court-appointed lawyer? Unless Twin Donut's chicken pricing really was undercutting Ahmad's shop...

    Bad Gateway karma: last week construction worker Carlos Reinoso from Ecuador was killed during the ongoing demolition of the Bronx House of Detention, to be given away for mall construction.

    Big picture, small picture: in the week of multiple bi-coastal funeral of ex-president Gerald Ford, in the Bronx on the sidewalk of Kingsbridge Road across from the Edward Allan Poe cottage there was a small funereal shrine, plastic milk crate and candles. Doctor Leandro Lozada was killed in his suburban home. Which memorial was more heartfelt?

   At Inner City Press we're not always big fans of elite media. But this week's New Yorker magazine has a simile we're compelled to note, that the "new" New York is like a lover whose facelift leaves them unrecognizable. Hat's off. Or, heads off -- because in some sections of The Bronx, it's been more than a facelift, it's been a decapitation...

January 1, 2007

  In the week between Christmas and New Years, a visit to West Farms Square found not only screeching birds and trains but the excellent garden on the banks of the Bronx River. A duck looked out through the fence. Down in the river, three ducks dove to eat bananas and, troubling, a frozen chicken someone had thrown over the fence. Bronxites, many waiting for the Q44 to Queens, watched in horror. Ducks eating chicken?

            On Southern Boulevard and 182nd Street, police hang around for apparently no reason. Perhaps to protect the holiday Zoo visitors?

Scenes from a funeral: during the viewing of James Brown at the Apollo Theater, people lined up outside to be sure to get a view. Ever entrepreneurial, some ran to McDonalds and bought slews of Dollar Burgers, returning to sell them (congealing, to be sure) to this captive audience for three dollars apiece.

December 25, 2006

  New York 1's end-of-the-year Bronx round-up praises the sell-off of Highbridge, then notes that some are angry at the forces allowed to " rip up and build on Maccombs Damn Park." Damn, that's mis-spellings in two consecutive words...

            While still 50 degrees outside, the annual miniature ponies showed up in Belmont, and the sleigh-like horse-drawn cart. Speaking of wheels, the new bike lanes on Park Avenue in The Bronx are appreciated, but there are serious pot holes and deep gashes in the asphalt in the bike lane, for example in front of the 48th Precinct, just under the Cross Bronx Expressway...

December 18, 2006

  Bronxites were surprised to see the big "Store Closing" signs go up on the Sears at Fordham Road and Webster. Not long ago it was announced that the building would be rehabbed, with Sears staying as a tenant. Without fetishizing commerce, the site has some history, back to Rodger's Department Store, and the pharmacist's symbol on the corners of the building, with wings and snakes. Though time the store got rundown. Most recently there has been no changing room to even try-on clothes. Still people went to the basement to buy Craftsman tools and overpriced big-screen TVs. And now the end is near. Despite the hype about Fordham Road as retailer heaven, the biggest store on the strip is closing. Where are the politicians now?

  A Bronx tale: a newborn baby with the umbilical cord still attached was found dead outside the Eastchester Gardens housing complex. The 14 year old mother was then arrested at her JUNIOR high school...

  While it's still 50 degrees outside, the annual miniature ponies have shown up in Belmont, and the sleigh-like horse-drawn cart. Speaking of wheels, the new bike lanes on Park Avenue in The Bronx are appreciated, but there are serious pot holes and deep gashes in the asphalt in the bike lane, for example in front of the 48th Precinct, just under the Cross Bronx Expressway...