Friday, July 29, 2011

Committee of 100 Dems throwing a bash

Tomorrow (Saturday), head over to Mosholu Parkway/Lisbon Place (is that north Bedford Park or south Norwood?) for an all day party with plenty of entertainment, food and music. Here's the full release:

The Committee of 100 Democrats

7th Annual Free Community Barbecue
212 Lisbon Place Bronx N.Y.
Saturday July 30, 2011 1-6 PM

Guest of Honor Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.
District Attorney of Bronx County since January 1, 1989.

Community Service Award to the Bedford Mosholu Community Association.
For Their Outstanding Community Work.

1:00PM-6:00PM Music All Day Long

1:30PM A Moment of Silence for Ozzie Brown (Former CB7 Vice-Chair)

1:45PM-2:15PM Local Talent


3:00PM-3:20PM Elected Officials

3:20PM-3:40PM Guest of Honor Bronx DA Robert Johnson

3:40PM-4:00PM Community Service Award to BCMA

4:00PM-5:00PM Salsa Band--- Latin Power

5:00PM-6:00PM Bachata Band---Raul Y Anyely
(From Santo Domingo)

There is other entertainment that was not confirmed at the time the program was done.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Poll: NYPD's Ray Kelly the next mayor

Mayor Ray Kelly?
A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday shows NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly is the frontrunner for the next mayor of our fine city. While he hasn't given any hints of running for office in 2013, he would be the candidate to beat, with 23 percent of New Yorkers (17 percent with Democrats) saying they'd like to see him in running the city. That puts him five points ahead of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who polled with 18 percent (20 percent with Democrats).

With Bronxites, Kelly and Quinn came in one-two, but the gap was much smaller. Kelly received 18 percent of the vote to Quinn's 17. However, more Bronxites (22 percent) said they did not know who they would vote for at all.

Other questions asked cover the current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, as well as the other candidates running for office. Not much of a surprise--Bronxites mostly disapprove of how Bloomberg has handled his last term.

In related mayoral news, WNYC put together an interactive graphic of contributions given to candidates, broken down by zip code. The Bronx, by what looks like a landslide, has given the least amount of money to any candidate. That may be because the Bronx doesn't have a hometown candidate (Brooklyn has DeBlasio and Thompson, Manhattan has Stringer and Quinn, Queens has Liu), though it's probably related to a variety of other reasons as well. Although, if you want to make a stretch, Ray Kelly is a Manhattan College alum (MC is in Riverdale, remember! And yes, I'm a former Jasper myself), so if he gets involved in the race he could try to take advantage of the other candidates' lack of Bronx roots.

Woman still missing after 20 days

Yvonne Pinnock has been missing for 20 days now--since July 8.

She's a 60-year-old who was last seen at 845 E. 224th Street, Bronx NY.

Yvonne is 5'2", 104 lbs. and has serious medical conditions.

This week in the Review...

Here are the stories from the July 28-Aug. 3 issue of the Riverdale Review & Bronx Press:

Exclusive: Discussion between Shoah survivor and new Muslim head of Manhattan College Holocaust Center
Mass exodus of teachers at RKA reflects 'toxic' environment under principal O'Mara
Two local post offices on chopping block
Skating rink problems force long delays
Study confirms teacher dissatisfaction with RKA principal O'Mara
Koppell opposes P.S. 24 parents group on charter
Vacca: Bike lanes based on outdated map
Dinowitz: Obama must stand up to GOP

Also, in the Bronx Press:
Bronx same-sex couples tie the knot as historic new law goes into effect

No Person on the Street this week, but it should be back next week. If you have an idea for POTS, comment below or send us an email.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dinowitz supports sports arena for armory

The Kingsbridge Armory Arena?
The Kingsbridge Armory Task Force won't play favorites, but one Bronx official has come out in support of one design to fill the vacant building.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has written to Marlene Cintron, the president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, to give his backing to a sports arena. Other ideas include a massive church, a film studio and even a chef's kitchen.
"I have long believed that the Kingsbridge Armory should be used for the people of the Bronx.  I have seen the superb facility that has been developed at the armory at West 168th Street and Fort Washington Avenue in Manhattan.  The Bronx deserves a great facility as well."
The project would also put a charter school in the building, have at least six year round ice rinks and one temporary rink outdoors in the winter. Part of the building would be an arena sized for a minor league hockey team or WNBA team. Concerts, conventions and other events could also be held in the arena.

The task force has chosen not to lobby for a specific idea, instead saying the city should reissue the RFP to find a suitor. Dinowitz's letter is really the first instance of an elected officials or community leader coming out to support a single idea, but the everyone's general idea is to get the building occupied, especially after the City Council and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr (co-leader of the task force) blocked a shopping mall in the armory in 2009 when the developer refused to consent to instituting a 'living wage' mandate for all who worked there. Diaz also noted that any retail center at the armory could kill the businesses along Fordham Road, a few blocks away.

Jump below for Dinowitz's letter.

Bronx post offices may close (UPDATE)

The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday they will be studying 17 Bronx post offices to determine if they should be closed. The USPS will be conducting a study of the Bronx offices to determine customer needs.

“Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said.

The Bronx offices are: Botanical, Castle Hill, Clason Point, Cranford, Dreiser Loop, Einstein, Esplanade, Fieldston, Hillside, Hunts Point, Melcourt, Morrisania, Spuyten Duyvil, Stadium, University Heights, Van Cott and West Farms. In Westchester, Yonkers South and Sandford Sta in Mount Vernon will be studied.

Some of these branches have been looked at before, but a USPS spokesperson said it is an ongoing campaign to better utilize a shrinking amount of resources.

UPDATE: It's come to my attention that the Bronx's 17 potential post office closures is by far the largest amount of potential closures in the city. Here's the whole list. Manhattan has six, Brooklyn and Queens five, and Staten Island with just one.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has responded with a statement:
“I am extremely concerned that 17 postal locations in the Bronx are being studied for potential closure. The Bronx cannot afford such a considerable loss of both jobs and commercial activity, and the federal government must seriously reconsider enacting any post office closure plan that would have a serious negative impact on Bronx communities. My office will continue to follow this process to ensure that the collective voice of our borough is heard on this important matter."
For more information, check the upcoming issue of the Bronx Press & Riverdale Review.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Review of the Bronx

Here's a couple stories of interest that you may want to check out. I know we said we weren't going to do roundups, but our blogging has been slow lately, so this is to make up for that.

Check out this Crain's article about the revival of the Bronx and how the borough is slowly overcoming its bad reputation.

And here's an update on the former state senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. He attempted to withdraw a guilty plea on corruption charges but was denied.

Over a dozen people were arrested at public pools throughout the city over the weekend. Out of the 14 people arrested, two were at the Van Cortlandt Park swimming pool.

The homeless problem in the Bronx has been fairly evident, and Kyle Smith explains in the New York Post that it's because shelters are cash cows for the well connected.

Here's the obligatory gay marriage story, from the Daily News.

And here's the story about the group looking to file a lawsuit to nullify the marriages. They claim the State Senate did not act correctly when they passed the bill earlier this month.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MTA Chairman Jay Walder resigns [UPDATE]

Jay H. Walder today informed Governor Cuomo of his intention to resign his position as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority effective as of the close of business on October 21st, 2011. Walder will be joining the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. The MTR is a publicly-traded company that operates rail services in Asia and Europe, and is involved in a wide range of business activities, including consulting and property development.
“I want to thank Governors Cuomo and former Governor Paterson for the honor of serving the people of New York State,” Walder said.  “The MTA’s transportation system is the foundation of the metropolitan region and we are fortunate to have thousands of dedicated men and women who work so hard to provide these critically important transportation services to millions of people each and every day.  I believe that we have accomplished quite a lot in a short period, with the support of two Governors, the Mayor, a hard-working Board and many others.”

Here's the reaction from City Councilman James Vacca, the chairman of the transportation committee:
“This resignation comes at a crucial time. A year after the worst service cuts in the MTA’s history and yet another fare and toll increase, the most serious challenges for straphangers may still lie ahead. While Chairman Walder deserves credit for taking on many structural issues that previous MTA leaders had delayed for a tomorrow that never came, the MTA continues to face a $250 million operating gap and a capital budget that runs out January 1. It’s getting harder and harder to do more with less, and the MTA needs someone at the helm not only who understands the role mass transit plays in the lives of everyday New Yorkers but who is prepared to get to work on day one.”

And a statement from Kate Slevin, Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director:
"MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder has been an effective, innovative leader. He helped restore the agency's credibility and changed the way it does business, finding billions of dollars in savings during his tenure. But his departure comes at an inopportune time. New York's regional transit system faces a capital funding gap that could be as large as $9 billion, and which needs to be addressed in the coming months. Straphangers are at risk. Governor Cuomo must quickly fill this vacancy with an effective leader who has a deep understanding of the transit system."
We'll post more reactions as they come in. [UPDATE] Check below for posts from Gov. Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and more.

Heat shuts down subway clocks

Here's a story from Gothamist about the subway's countdown clocks, and how the heat is causing a few of them to shut down. If you notice the list, you'll see that all of them are along trains that Bronxites typically use.

Spring Street (6) Intervale (2)
Park Place (2,3)
191st Street (1)
145th Street-Lenox (3)
Clark Street (2,3)
Utica Ave (4)
Gun Hill Road (2, 5)
86th Street/Lex (4)
79th Street (1)
77th Street/Lex (6)
59th Street-Columbus Circle
145th Street (1)

Here's what the MTA told Gothamist:
“In certain subway stations, when we experience several days of hot weather, temperatures can exceed 120 degrees in the communications rooms that hold the equipment that drive the countdown clocks. We are constantly monitoring temperatures and working to install cooling systems in impacted communications rooms. We know our customers have come to rely on the “next train arrival” information and we apologize for the inconvenience and ask for their patience as we work to resolve this issue."
So I suppose as the heat continues, and gets worse tomorrow, we can expect more clocks to shut down.

Professional ice rink at Armory advances, making rink at VC Park a joke

For your consideration, the Armory ice skating rink story from this week's paper:

By Brendan McHugh

Proposals for the Kingsbridge Armory include everything from a giant church to an arts and crafts market, but a frontrunner for the nine-story building includes a charter school and ice-skating rinks.
The Kingsbridge Armory - skating rinks?

Developed by former New York Ranger Mark Messier’s management company, the plan includes year-round indoor rinks and even an outdoor rink during the winter months.

“I think they’re real serious contenders,” Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation president Marlene Cintron said. “Because they’re not asking for a dime, they have to be seriously considered.”

Jump below for the rest of the story.

Senators trying to prevent cuts to hospitals

The story about the hospital cuts in the Bronx Press was shortened, so I wanted to give you the full version.

But before we get to the story, take time to read this New York Post exclusive about New York's representatives in Congress fighting for the same thing the state Senators are fighting for.

By Brendan McHugh 

Pleading with the U.S. Congress, every Bronx state Senator and a handful in Manhattan have signed a letter calling on their congressional delegation to oppose major cuts to New York’s teaching hospitals.

With deficit reduction negotiations ongoing in Washington D.C, three major hospitals in Manhattan and the Bronx are facing cuts of up to $1.25 billion, including Montefiore Medical Center.

The hospitals could see massive cuts in Medicare funding, with aid reductions of as much as $5.8 billion nationally. Such cuts would disproportionately affect New York City, given that it’s home to three of the top teaching hospitals in the country.

Aside from Montefiore, cuts would also have an impact on New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Senators Adriano Espaillat, Bill Perkins, Thomas Duane, Liz Krueger, Gustavo Rivera, Jose Serrano, Jeff Klein, Ruben Diaz Sr. and Ruth Hassell-Thompson signed the letter.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

This week in the Review...

Bronx Press and Riverdale Review are out on the streets now!

Here are the stories in this week's edition (July 21-27):

PS 24 educrat 'won't leave home' without credit card
Professional ice rink at Armory advances, making dinky rink at VC Park a joke
A million trees that city can't prune
23% of PS 24 kids don't live in community
VC Village facing a parking crisis
Riverdalian studies post-traumatic stress disorder
City Ed Dept to have a survey about their survey
Bronx Dems celebrate a year of unity
Person on the Street: How do you feel about a BJ's coming to Riverdale?

Also, in the Bronx Press:
Diaz calls on Feds to intervene in Muller dispute
Senators trying to prevent cuts to hospitals

As always, enjoy your reading, and if you have any tips or ideas (especially about what you'd like us to ask in Person on the Street), comment below or email us at bronxpolitics[at]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Riverdale really part of the Bronx?

In last week's issue, we ran a Person on the Street asking people if they thought Riverdale was really part of the Bronx. In the upcoming issue, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz responds in a letter to the editor.

This didn't make the paper, but here is an article our intern (who also does the Person on the Streets) wrote.


Is Riverdale really part of the Bronx?

It’s a long-standing question between Riverdalians and Bronxites. Geographically and politically speaking, the area of Riverdale is obviously part of the Bronx. But asking the people of Riverdale and the Bronx whether they considered Riverdale part of the northern borough, the answer would not always correlate with the geographically and politically accurate answer.

So where does the indiscretion come in? Why is it questionable about what “proper title” to use?

Jump below for the rest of the article.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One month down in health challenge

Senator Gustavo Rivera hosted the first Bronx CAN Health Initiative Check-In over the weekend, focusing on nutrition and healthy eating habits, at the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center. At the kick-off in June, Rivera committed to losing 20 pounds by October 24, the last day of the Initiative.
Rivera hopes to lost 20 lbs. by October.

Saturday, he weighed in at 293 lbs., down six pounds from 299 lbs. in June.

“There are several factors as to why the Bronx is the unhealthiest county, including less healthy options than other boroughs, but we can take ownership of our personal health habits and behaviors,”  Rivera said. “I live in the same community and walk by the same fried chicken spots and pizza parlors, but I have made a commitment to lead a healthier life and to help educate my neighbors about the importance of developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”

He referenced the pizza place Emilio's, across from the Kingsbridge Armory, as a dangerous vice. "They have the best calzones," he said, adding that he only has them every so often now. "You keep the really bad stuff to the minimum, but you really enjoy it when you have it."

Rivera said he walks to Planet Fitness on Broadway, about a mile from his apartment, about five days a week. He has focused on cardio and abdominal workouts. 

The Bronx - and specifically Rivera's 33rd State Senate district - is last or near last in many obesity and diabetic statistics. 

“Holding these events and urging Bronxites to participate in this program is an excellent idea because it is not only helping people to lose weight, but helping people in our community learn healthy habits that will be with them for the rest of their lives,” said Waheebah Shamsid-Deen, a Bronx CAN Health Challenge participant. “I have already lost three pounds as part of the challenge but plan to lose more in a healthy way, participating in the Bronx CAN Health Challenge.”

Jump below for more information about the challenge, as well as to find out who else has joined the challenge.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fighting obesity at the armory

The youth market is open Fridays through October.
Bringing fresh produce to the streets, the Kingsbridge Heights Youth Market kicked off today.

In the shadow of the Kingsbridge Armory at Barnhill Square, Bronx Community Board 8 and GrowNYC launched the second youth market in Community Board 8. It operates Fridays from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. through October 28th.

The youth market is a program of the nonprofit GrowNYC, and is part of a network of urban farm stands operated by teen entrepreneurs bringing fresh produce into low-income communities. The neighborhoods they serve are usually disproportionately affected by diet-related health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The youth markets bring healthy foods such as fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, all grown by New York area farms.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera and City Councilman Fernando Cabrera were both present for the opening. Rivera, who has spearheaded the Bronx CAN Health Initiative (more on that Monday), bought some of the fresh produce to bring to the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center that will be used for the healthy cooking demonstration they are doing at the Health Initiative Check-In on Saturday.

Schervier's Steve Kazanjian (right) speaks at the youth market Friday as State Senator Gustavo Rivera, his communication director Conchita Cruz and CB8 District Manager Nicole Stent listen.
Funding for both Kingsbridge Heights and Marble Hill youth market was provided by Bon Secours New York Health System/Schervier. The Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and Riverdale Neighborhood House will employ the students that operate the markets with guidance and training from GrowNYC. All students have been recruited from the neighborhoods surrounding the youth markets.

Steve Kazanjian, director of Mission for Schervier, said the local nursing home has $100,000 to spend annually on projects such as this.
Jump below for a few more pictures.

Shhh!!!! It's the Bronx County Dinner!

The only thing said more than "Is the Bronx in the house?" last night was "Shhhhhh!" For $500 a plate, you would think the county leaders would let the people not listen to the same speech by ten different politicians.

Nevertheless, the annual Bronx County Dinner seemed to be a success, with big names from outside the borough such as former governor David Paterson, state Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, Manhattan BP Scott Stringer, New York State Democratic Party executive director Charlie King, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, former city comptroller and mayor hopeful Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn all attending.

After former governor David Paterson gave his speech, I had the chance to talk to him for a minute and asked him what he thinks of the book his wife is writing (the one where he supposedly said he might kill himself when he found out he was governor). Here's our quick back and forth:

BM: Do you think you'll get back into the political landscape?
DP: Being front and center, there's only a certain amount of time you can do it...A camera always trained on the front door of my apartment...after a while you just don't want to do that anymore.
BM: Well your wife's writing a book, does that make you nervous at all?
DP: No, she's gonna let it all hang out, it's gonna be pretty good.

I would have loved to dig deeper, but with the throngs of people waiting to introduce themselves to him as we stood in front of the bar (which they shut down only two hours into the night!), it was too tough to keep speaking with him.

Below are a pair of photos from last night's dinner. Bear with me as I try to figure out how to upload videos from my phone. It's not going well.

Rep. Eliot Engel with former governor David Paterson.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with Councilman James Vacca.
For a full recap of the night, check out next week's issue of the Riverdale Review or Bronx Press.

UPDATE: Jump below for some videos from the dinner.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NIMBY: Not In Manhattan, Bloomberg Yearns [UPDATE]

The homeless problem is evident.
"Not in my backyard" is a bit whiny, so I think it would better suit the people of the Bronx to change the acronym's meaning to something that pokes Mayor Manhattan Bloomberg. It's no secret that the Bronx isn't much more of an afterthought for the city administration, and it becomes especially clear when looking at the placement of homeless shelters in the borough. The big story recently has been the Muller Army Reserve Center. Despite hundreds of people from the Bronx-and even some people from Yonkers-coming out in support of a plan for the National Guard to fill the empty space, the Mayor is still trying to stick a homeless shelter in there.

And if that wasn't enough, here's another story from the Daily News about the city trying to put a 200-bed transitional men's homeless shelter across the street from a junior high school:
"We don't like men we don't know," said 10-year-old Michelle Valdez at Arcilla Playground. "I'm a little girl and I don't want them to come and [do something] bad to me."
Local residents and community leaders are meeting today (pretty much right now, actually), to protest the shelter. This is from a Highbridge community website:
Highbridge will join with Morissania. We will Help protect our children from being exposed, to the tragedies of life, at a very early age. From 3pm to 7pm we will join hands around PS 145 on E. 165th Street in Bronx. Both communities are engaged in the exact same struggle with the City and Our right to have a say.
The website notes the struggles that both Highbridge and Morissania have had in getting the city to listen to them. Highbridge has also struggled with an excessive amount of homeless shelters within a few blocks from one another. They've tried reaching out to Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio and City Comptroller John Liu but haven't had much help.

The group has their own idea of what should happen. They include:
  1. In Highbridge, relocate the Men from 1260 Sedgwick away from PS 126 and the community-at-large and return the mothers and babies back to that shelter.
  2. In Morrisania, remove the Men's transitional shelter away from the front of PS 145 and the community-at-large and use that building as per Community's recommendations.
  3. A call to the Public Advocate to investigate what are the roots of these decisions that endanger children and was done in such a sneaky way. Why is the Bronx being saturated with Transitional Shelters?
Jump below for a disturbing picture of the backside of a homeless man on the street with his pants around his ankles. A message to the two girls taking cell phone pictures of the front of him: Why?

UPDATE: Here's a comment from one of the local residents that needs to be read:
Those are not 2 little girls taking pictures. Those are residents and mothers who have been telling the city that they want the men relocated away from the school. WE WOMAN have had to take pictures to document what OUR CHILDREN have to see and then send them to motivate OUR POLITICIANS TO DO SOMETHING. In the original picture, that is the men who have missed curfew and are sleeping on the stairs to PS126's play yard.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BOEDC confirms BJ's at Stella D'oro

The former cookie factory, vacant since 2009.
Last week, we broke the news that an anonymous wholesale club had leased part of the Stella D'oro factory in Riverdale. Judging from the leasing website, we speculated that it might be BJ's.
In this week's Riverdale Review, we were able to confirm from a couple sources close to the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation said that BJ's is in fact going to lease about 90,000 square feet of the property. Sam's Club (Walmart) and Costco also both told us they were not looking at the area. BJ's has yet to return any requests for comment.

And it turns out while we were doing all that, BOEDC president Marlene Cintron was on BronxTalk Monday breaking the news as well (Most of the conversation is about the Kingsbridge Armory, so it's not until 25:30 into the video).

Cintron says it's still in the quiet period of discussion, but the developer is hoping to close within the next week or so. "The developer has invited BJ's to be a part of the Stella D'oro area," she said on the show.

The developer, Metropolitan Realty Associates, has yet to close on the building, but their leasing agents at Ripco went ahead and posted the property online anyways. MRA president Joseph Farkas wouldn't confirm or deny any information, but told us, "I am a concerned and neighborhood-friendly developer, and please be assured that my plans will greatly enhance the area."

Jump below for a little more information about the site and what else might go in the building.

This week in the Review...

Decided to give you the Review stories on Wednesday. The papers are distributed all day today and tomorrow, so why not?

Also, we're going to let you comment anonymously for the time being. We'll see how it goes.

Here are the stories in the July 14-20 edition:

It's a BJ's going into the Stella D'oro building
School surveys: PS 81 shines; trouble at RKA and 24
Local firefighters volunteer time at Schervier picnic
Efforts continue to protect Henry Hudson Parkway
Skating rink still shrouded in mystery
Gay Bronxites excited to get hitched
Review of city budget
Person on the Street is back! Is Riverdale really part of the Bronx?

Also in the Bronx Press:
A special walking tour of Woodlawn Cemetery, honoring salsa queen Celia Cruz

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two weeks left of SalsaFest

Photo courtesy of Marisol Diaz.
I've always been a bit jealous of some of the other boroughs (the one with the "too big to fail companies" and those on Long Island). It always seems like they have the best free concerts. However, because of a new summer concert series at Orchard Beach, the Bronx is showing that it has the ability to host those same great concerts.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and new hairdo (or lack thereof) helped kicked off SalsaFest over the weekend in the first of a three-weekend concert series in the Bronx.

A Warm-Up party preceded the concert last Thursday at Pregones Theater, where there was a screening of the award-winning documentary by City Lore, "From Mambo To Hip Hop, A South Bronx Tale” followed by a discussion on the history of salsa music by film co-producer Elena Martinez and multi-Grammy nominated percussionist Bobby Sanabria, who was inducted to the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2006 and appears in the film.

“The Bronx helped propel salsa into an international phenomenon, and we’re welcoming visitors and native New Yorkers to experience it here this weekend in what will become a new annual celebration,” Diaz said. “With the popularity of TV shows like ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ more people than ever are curious about this rich, rhythmic music. The weekend festival is a chance to put down the remote and put on your dancing shoes.”

The first ever “Bronx SalsaFest” continues at Orchard Beach with two more weekends packed with live music and dancing.
On Sunday, July 17, jazz legend and Grammy award-winning flutist Dave Valentin performs live at Orchard Beach. On Sunday, July 24, sizzling salsa returns to the beach with popular band Tipica 73.
Both concerts are part of the Summer Music at Orchard Beach concert series hosted by Diaz and the Bronx Tourism Council. The events are sponsored by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Bronx Lebanon Hospital and Latino Sports. Sets start at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

For more information visit and

I'm not much of a salsa fan, but if the crowds are passionate enough for this, I can imagine the borough's "music leaders" (whomever they may be) could entice some of those great free Central Park concerts to shuffle up here. Or is that just a pipe dream?

"Is it hot enough for you?"

This is the sun.
I hate that sentence, but I'd rather be hot than have to shovel snow. Anyways, if you're having a hard time surviving the heat, call your local community board or elected official's office, or go to the city's website, to find the closest cooling center. Most of them are places like libraries and community centers, so hopefully they'll have some cool stuff for you to do while you're there.* Libraries obviously have books, but most of them also have videogames, music and movies to keep you occupied. I've never been to a cooling center, but they promise to have air conditioning, which on a day like today, is worth checking out. Let me know how they are if you go.

*Did I write this post just to throw a pun in that sentence? In the words of Sarah Palin, you betchya!

Monday, July 11, 2011

7 years between swimmers in Central Park Reservoir

Here's a story from the New York Post about a man who decided to take a swim in the Central Park Reservoir over the weekend.

What's really shocking is that this was the first time in seven years that anyone has jumped into the reservoir. According to Gothamist, the last time anyone took an illegal dip in the reservoir was in 2004 (and they were Canadians!). Whether or not that was really the last time it happened, the fact that, in the most popular park in the world, jumping over a four-foot fence into a reservoir doesn't happen daily should be testament to opening up access to the Jerome Park Reservoir (JPR) in the Bronx.
CB12 Chairman Fr. Richard Gorman, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Gustavo Rivera during a press conference calling for access to the Jerome Park Reservoir.
Over the past few months, the Department of Environmental Protection has said they will not allow any access to the JPR until construction on the Croton Water Filtration Plant is completed, which is not for another few years. Even then, only pilot programs will begin, so it could be years before those pilot programs are completed as well. Elected officials and community leaders have been kicking and screaming for DEP to begin opening access to the JPR now, while there is no water in it and thus no security threat.

Jump below to find out why the city doesn't want to offer access.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Engel blasts Republicans for lack of jobs bill

Rep. Engel is fighting for a jobs bill.
Rep. Eliot Engel sent out a statement today blasting the Republican House Majority because they have yet to fulfill a promise to produce a jobs bill.

"Instead of putting the resources of the federal government to help the recovery and put more people back to work, the Republican agenda has focused more on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and eliminating the thousands of jobs connected to it.  Worst of all, they passed their FY 2012 budget, which eliminates Medicare and Medicaid as we know it. It seems the Republicans not only do not want to help get people back to work, they want to take away their health care too!" said Engel (D-NY-17), who represents parts of Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties.

Economically, the counties he represents are vastly different. Rockland and Westchester are around 6.8% unemployment, while the Bronx has been in the double digits for a long time. Engel's office said the Department of Labor's most recent listing for Bronx unemployment was at 11.5%.

President Barack Obama also released a statement about the slow job growth, and while he didn't make any direct references to a jobs bill, he did call on Congress as a whole to step up and begin passing bills that will increase jobs.

"Today’s job report confirms what most Americans already know: We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to give people the security and opportunity that they deserve. We’ve added more than two million new private sector jobs over the past 16 months, but the recession cost us more than eight million. And that means that we still have a big hole to fill.

"There are bills and trade agreements before Congress right now that could get all these ideas moving," he said about bills that would increase the sale of American-made goods and services to Asia and South America. "All of them have bipartisan support. All of them could pass immediately. And I urge Congress not to wait. The American people need us to do everything we can to help strengthen this economy and make sure that we are producing more jobs. "

Check out the full release by Rep. Engel after the jump.

This isn't Jim Carrey's "Mask"

And it's definitely not something that the Parks Department would be able to throw out.
Mask, deep within VCP, was created by international artists.

It's dubbed Mask, and it sits 15-feet high and made out of steel. Created by seven international artists from the Art Students League, this giant sculpture will be on display until next summer.

It's a collaborative piece created in the league’s Model to Monument program.

“We’re very proud of this program that takes League artists through the entire process of creating public art for people to contemplate and enjoy,” said Ira Goldberg, the League's executive director.

Students visited the park to brainstorm ideas for what they wanted to create. Eventually, students chose to play on the tragedy and comedy masks to that represent theater. The sculpture will be behind the Van Cortlandt Park Museum and swimming pool, where many plays take place.

“We are going beyond a straight studio practice and actually connecting the artists with the rigors of creating public works,” Greg Wyatt, the students' teacher, said. “These works will receive public reaction, contact, praise, criticism and outdoor weather for one year. That we have the amazing landscape of the public parks and traffic in which to present them is a great gift.”

The sculptors are Elizabeth Allison, Selva Sanjines, John Balsamo, Noa Shay, Allston Chapman, Matthew White, and Akihiro Ito. They all also have individual pieces on display in Manhattan's Riverside Park South.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

These animals can't escape: Bronx Zoo has LEGO animals

A girl checks out a LEGO tiger.

Forget about those real animals--the Bronx Zoo is giving children (and adults who are still young at heart) an opportunity to play with LEGO's!

After checking out their real-life counterparts at the zoo, check out the LEGO tigers, spray toads, flamingos, gorillas, penguins, and other exotic wildlife, all created by LEGO’s talented team of expert builders. Each display includes information on the featured animal and how the Wildlife Conservation Society is working to save it in the wild.

LEGO Master Builders have created a safari of LEGO block wildlife sculptures that will be on display throughout the Bronx Zoo until Sept. 30.

Jump down to find out when the Zoo gives you the opportunity to test your hand at LEGO sculpting.

You got $3 million for a castle? Yeah, me neither

Ah, Fieldston. Home to the elegant, historic and beautiful mansions that none of us plebs will ever have the chance to live in.

Yep, that's a Castle.

Recently, a handful of Fieldston's super-houses that were put up for sale/rent made city-wide and even national news (Like the one that rents for $20,000 a month one block away). This is another one of those stories.

Here's a Wall Street Journal article about a house that was modeled to look like a Castle from Croatia.

Do yourself a favor and look through the slideshow. This house looks like the fantasy of every 5-year-old child who wishes he was a knight in shining armor or she was the princess who needed rescuing.

The article says the owners, Alec Diacou and Suzi Arensberg, bought the house in 2004 for $1.8 million, then put in $1.5 million in renovations over 2 1/2 years, and are now selling it for $2.995 million.

Jump on down below for more info about the Castle.

This week in the Review...

Here are the summaries of the stories in this week's edition of the Riverdale Review (July 7-13, 2011). Hope you enjoy what you read!

Stella D'oro: A wholesale club has leased part of the 115,000 square foot building.
Education Dept confirmed the investigation of P.S. 24 principal.
Four men who attempted to bomb the Riverdale Temple in 2009 received a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
VCP Skating Rink: Are there better sites in the Bronx for it?
After years of delay, construction on the Sid Augarten little league field on Mosholu Ave is beginning.
Charter schools being proposed for Riverdale.
Developer for Broadway Shopping Mall fails to close on a deal with the city.
CUNY trustee featured speaker at Hebrew Institute.

In the Bronx Press Review, we also had: the Muller Center LRA process abandoned; Woodlawn Cemetery named landmark; Fireworks light up Bronx Skies (by our intern, Amanda Macaluso); and Bronx County Historian Lloyd Ultan's Bronx history column.

No Person on the Street this week. We've heard some good feedback about it, so it will return next week. If you have any ideas for a question we should ask the fine people of Riverdale, let us know!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jeter closing in on 3k

New York Yankee captain Derek Jeter is four hits away from 3,000. Not only would he become the first Yankee to ever do so, there's a very good chance it's going to happen at the Stadium. The Bronx Bombers begin a four-game homestand against the Rays Thursday, and ticket prices are starting to skyrocket.

The 'Jeter Meter' has been counting down Jeter's quest for 3,000.
As a big Yankee fan myself, I have season tickets on Fridays (so we all know when I want it to happen). I also know that the average ticket price for a bleacher or 400 level seat on a regular Thursday goes for around $15, and they drop as low as $5 the day of. Tickets for this Thursday's game are already at least $40 for the same area--up over %100 from just two days ago.

Jump below for more information--and a possible tip on where to score free cake!

Boardwalk Empire in VCP

Here's a lousy picture of the television set of Boardwalk Empire from yesterday in Van Cortlandt Park.

From what I've been told, they're still there today, but that's going to be it. I couldn't see Mr. Pink (aka Steve Buscemi), but if your a fan of the HBO show or just a fan of fancy TV production, I suggest going to check it out. They will probably be somewhere around the Van Cortlandt Park Museum, just south of the Parade Grounds.

Bx10 Rerouted in Kingsbridge

Because of construction related to the Croton Water Treatment Plant and Jerome Park Reservoir, the Bx10 bus has been rerouted. Beginning July 3, the Bx10 has been rerouted off Goulden Avenue in both directions because of construction between Sedgwick Avenue and 205th Street.

The construction and bus rerouting should be over by the first week of September, for the start of the school year.

Eastbound (toward Norwood-206th), the Bx10 will take its regular route to Sedgwick and Goulden, via Sedgwick to West Mosholu Parkway South, stop at the Bx1/Bx28 bus stop at Mosholu South, make a right on Paul Avenue to 205th Street and back to the regular route.

Westbound (Towards Riverdale-West 263rd), the Bx10 will take its regular route to Paul Avenue and W. 205th, continue on Paul and stop at the Bx1/Bx28 bus stop at Mosholu South, make a left on Mosholu South to Sedgwick, and a left on Sedwick to continue the regular route.

Visit for up to date route information

Smiling Dynamo recounts rookie year

By Brendan McHugh

Espaillat stands with his rent reg countdown clock
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer proclaimed him the Smiling Dynamo During the state Senate inauguration, but Rookie of the Year may have worked just as well for Adriano Espaillat.

Although he may be too modest to admit it (though not too modest to bring it up), he doesn’t think of himself as the rookie of the year in the state Senate, but Espaillat still has a lot to gloat about after the 2011 session.
“Overall I think it was a productive session,” Espaillat said during a roundtable discussion with reporters.

Espaillat, who represents northern Manhattan, the Upper West Side and south Riverdale (one of the more awkward districts in the state in my opinion. There’s the black vote, the Latino vote, and the Jewish vote), he fought tooth and nail for stronger rent laws, marriage equality, and immigration protection in his first state senate term. The top ranking Democrat on the housing committee, he was a member of the Assembly for 14 years prior to the state Senate.
Up against a Republican majority in the Senate, Espaillat and his fellow Democrats had to fight for the passage of many of their bills. Jump below for a synopsis of his year

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

We're back!

After two years, the Bronx Press Politics blog is back online. We'll officially begin posting tomorrow. I can't promise what you'll see here, but what we have in mind is more than just links to other stories that relate to the Bronx and the city. Same thing goes for simply reposting press releases. For example, if we see a story that we think is interesting, but probably won't make our papers, we may do a little reporting of our own, and toss it up on the blog. Also, expect some videos and podcasts. The podcast is still just an idea in my head, but I promise it's coming sooner rather than later.

As for the stories that make our newspapers, I wouldn't expect to read too many of them on here. We're a free paper, so all we ask is that you walk to the closest box on the street, or even just to the lobby of your building to get the paper. A little exercise never hurt, right?

Comments: We will monitor the comments. Sorry, but commenting is a privilege, not a right, and society as a whole has proved they're too immature to handle it. That being said, as long as you don't swear and your comments do not attack anyone based on race, gender, etc., we should all be OK. We check our email constantly, so any comments will get looked at and posted very quickly. Promise.

Thanks for coming to the Bronx Press Politics. If you'd like to see us do something, cover something, or have an always appreciated tip for us, don't hesitate to email bronxpolitics (at) gmail (dot) com.