Monday, August 29, 2011

Riverdale after the hurricane (UPDATE: Mudslide photos)

Here are a handful of pictures I took yesterday of Riverdale. Make sure to read this week's Riverdale Review or Bronx Press for the full story of all the damage to the Bronx. That includes a mudslide that's currently affecting the Metro North tracks and possible a Charlotte Bronte house.

The Bronx Borough President's office just informed me that 1900 people are without power in the borough, and most of them are in Riverdale. Con Ed is working on restoring power right now. The BP's office says many of the downed wires are still live, so they can't remove the trees until power is shut off.

BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. will be on NY1's "Inside City Hall" tonight to discuss the hurricane. The show airs at 7 and 10 p.m.  He will also be on BronxTalk at 9 p.m. For more information go to bronxnet.org.

If you'd like, send us your pictures and we'll post them up on the site. Bronxpolitics[at]gmail[dot]com.

A small amount of flooding along the Henry Hudson Parkway service road
There's a car under that tree!
Told you!
 Jump below for the rest of the pictures.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Diaz staffer and NY1 commentator debate gun violence prevention, hurricane preparations, DD vs. Bustelo, over Twitter

There are certain things in life you never forget. Your first kiss...your wedding...that time you fought a reporter on Twitter because he called out your boss's stance on gun violence prevention...the birth of your first child. Wait, what?

Read from the bottom up to see the entire story. I did my best to include every tweet, though there are certainly a lot of them, so if I missed one or two, I hope it doesn't take away from this legendary tale. It all began four days ago with a tweet from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr about his upcoming education summit. And ends with Diaz's communications director, John Desio saying he likes Dunkin' Donuts. What a wild ride.

By the way, if anyone involved would like to comment, tweet @mchugh. I'll offer you 140 characters.

UPDATE: It's already been pointed out that I had a mistake in the timeline--I've corrected it. Like I said, there are a lot of tweets, so bear with me!

UPDATE 2: Borrero informed me, via Twitter, that he is not a reporter for NY1. "I'm a Political Commentator not reporter 4 NY1&NY1Noticias. Columnist 4 & PMdrive @am970theapple". Thus the slight headline change. My bad!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cuomo declares state of emergency in preparation for Irene

This is the fifth hurricane named Irene since 1971, and only 1999's Irene caused considerable damage to the US ($800 million to Florida, so...yeah).

Gov. Cuomo has declared a state of emergency to prepare for the potential storm (But like I said in an earlier post: Just head to Riverdale, where Mother Nature probably has a house in Fieldston, to find shelter).

Meanwhile, the MTA--always looking to save money--released a statement relating to their service and maintenance plan for the weekend:

The MTA is actively preparing for the impact of Hurricane Irene, coordinating with the Governor's Office, Mayor's Office and regional OEMs consistent with our Hurricane Plan. We are making arrangements to bring in extra personnel over the weekend, preparing our facilities and infrastructure by clearing drains, securing work sites against possible high winds, checking and fueling equipment, stocking supplies, and establishing plans to move equipment and supplies away from low-lying areas as needed. Because of the severity of the wind and rain associated with a hurricane, there may be partial or full shut down of our services to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. The good news, however, is the above ground train stations will finally be cleaned. We haven't cleaned some of the No. 1 train stations all summer, so this is a welcome relief for us. We are also prepared to implement evacuation plans if the Mayor and Governor decide that is necessary. We urge our customers to check mta.info frequently and to consider the impacts of this storm when making travel plans through the weekend.

OK, so two of those sentences I made up. But is it that far fetched to believe?

Orchard Beach, the Bronx Riviera, named #2 in the City


A report on city beaches released last week has gotten quite a bit of attention, but no one has really discussed Orchard Beach (no one talks about second place). But from where Orchard Beach's shoreline used to be, to where it is now (the best in the city), it just shows what the parks department can do when it really puts everything else on the back burner and focuses on something (yes, that was a very backhanded compliment. Just pick up the Riverdale Review to see the saga of Memorial Grove.)

Anyways, for your consideration, here is a story from this week's Bronx Press.

By Brendan McHugh
Orchard Beach during the July 4 celebration.
The titanic improvements to Orchard Beach’s shoreline earlier this year vaulted the Bronx Riviera to the second best beach in the city, a new report claims.

A 27-page report, completed by the century-old organization New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P), shows sweeping improvements for all of the city’s municipal beaches. The report measured the quality of shoreline, drinking fountains, bathrooms and pathways.

“The news is overwhelmingly good,” the report said. “The city’s beaches have shown extraordinary progress since the first Report Card on Beaches in 2007.”

In 2007 and 2009, Orchard Beach received grades of “Challenged.” But in 2011, mainly due to vast improvements to the shoreline, received the second best grade overall, including a perfect 100/100 on the quality of the shoreline and a 98/100 on the pathways. 

“While every feature showed improvement, shorelines improved most dramatically, rising from a grade of F in 2009 to a perfect score of 100 in 2011,” the report said. 

Earlier this year, the Army Corps of Engineers and the city’s parks department put $13 million dollars into the beach, re-grading the land with 268,000 cubic yards of new white sand. As part of the Orchard Beach Shoreline Protection Project, the Bronx Riviera nearly doubled in size during the five-month project.

Prior to the reconstruction, the 1.1-mile-long shoreline was so bad that beachgoers had to take a literal step down to enter the water.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

This week in the Review...

We had some great weather this week, but hopefully we won't have any bad news to report next week after Hurricane Irene destroys everyone (though I'm convinced zip code 10471 didn't feel the earthquake, giving those 'up the hill' elitists another egoboost they don't need. So go to Riverdale to be safe from the hurricane. I'm also convinced the hurricane will be nothing more than a typical summer rainstorm once it hits New York. For the record, I'm 10463).

Anyways, on to the stories in this week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press:

Two new kindergarten classes will be created at PS 24, hopefully eliminating a wait list
Skate rink today, housing in Van Cortalndt Park next?
More delays for Memorial Grove (delays continue for comfort station just south of Grove)
Will fallout from closed 'toxic school' cause crowding in Riverdale?
Body of subway suicide victim remains unclaimed and unburied
Investigation continues of PS 24 personnel issues
Stellar "Les Mis" at the "Y"
Bronx Catholic schools outpace public schools
Person on the street: How do you feel about parking meters being replaced with Muni-Meters?

Also, in the Bronx Press:
More about the PS 51 toxic school
Orchard Beach, the Bronx Riviera, named #2 in the City

Sound off in the comments or shoot us an email (or find me on Twitter, @mchugh) if you have any tips, comments or recommendations.

Countdown to 602 (UPDATE with pictures)


The 'Jeter Meter' is now the 'Mariano Meter,'
counting down Rivera's last ten
saves to the all time record.
OK, so 602 isn't as catchy as 3,000, but it's even more impressive. Now that Derek Jeter has surpassed the famed hit milestone, the 161st Business Improvement District has found another milestone their LCD sign can track.

The BID has installed a 'Mariano Meter' in front of his portrait between 161st Street and 162nd Street on River Avenue, which will count the last ten saves Mariano Rivera needs to capture the major league all-time saves record.

The meter, which originally counted up to 3,000 hits for Jeter, now counts up to 602 for Rivera as he chases the record.

The Mariano Meter currently sits at 592.

The four-foot LED screen carries 'good luck' wishes from local merchants, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and fans. The Jeter Meter was in place in front of the Yankee Captain’s image from May through July. The Mariano Meter will run through the end of the season in front of Rivera's image.

Billy’s, Yankee Tavern, Molino Rojo, Stan’s, KJY Fruit, S & A Collectibles and Valencia Bakery are the initial sponsors of the Mariano Meter.

Fans will have a chance to wish Mo 'good luck' by stopping at the Mariano Meter and adding their names to the electronic scroll.
The meter is on River Avenue,
between 161st and 162nd streets.

Trevor Hoffman, a former San Diego Padre, holds the MLB record with 601. After Rivera, the next closest active pitcher to Hoffman is Francisco Cordero with 316.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baby faced Bronxites buying booze from bodegas without ID

Here is a story that didn't make this week's paper. Enjoy.

By Amanda Macaluso

The Bronx’s underage drinkers are having no problem buying booze in the borough.

The New York State Liquor Authority released a report last week that shows 38 of 48 bodegas visited by 18- to 20-year-old decoys in the Boogiedown sold alcohol to minors without asking for identification.

From Aug. 15 through Aug. 17, the SLA sent voluntary, underage decoys into 212 groceries throughout New York City to have them try and buy alcohol. In 123 out of the 212 stores (58 percent), the decoys were successfully able to purchase alcohol without being asked for I.D. 

Out of the five boroughs, the Bronx by far had the highest percentage of minors who were successfully able to purchase alcohol, at 79 percent. In Brooklyn, 59 percent of the bodegas approached failed to I.D. minors. Staten Island bodegas sold to 40 percent and Queens bodegas sold to 28 percent. Groceries who were cited for selling to these minors can face penalties of up to $10,000 per violation with fines starting at $2,500 to $3,000 for first time offenders.

Jump below to read the SLA's statement, and also how the Bronx Press did its own independent study and found that some bodegas are still selling alcohol without checking I.D.!

Borough President Diaz announces first ever ‘Quality of Life’ survey for Bronx residents


Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that his office will conduct the borough’s first-ever “well-being and quality of life” survey, which will measure the opinions of Bronx residents and those who work in the Bronx on a variety of issues that impact their communities.

The survey, which you can take here, asks respondents to rate their communities in a number of areas, from crime and education to fresh food availability and civic activity. The survey will remain open until Oct. 31, 2011. Following the completion of the survey, one individual will be chosen at random to have brunch with the borough president.

“It is important that Bronxites participate in this survey and let my office hear from them on the specific issues that face our neighborhoods. We are ‘One Bronx,’ and this survey will help us discover what problems are shared by different neighborhoods, so that we may develop common solutions to them. The goal of this survey is to build upon newly-released Census data to perform a comprehensive, inclusive, and thorough assessment of where we are as a borough and where we want to go. I hope that as many Bronxites as possible will take a few minutes to fill out this survey and join us in that effort,” Diaz said.

The results of this survey will be compiled by the borough president’s office, and a report based on its outcome will be issued later this year.

If the link above doesn't work, the survey is available at the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BronxBP2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Diaz calls for further action on behalf of PS 51 families

Walcott speaks to PS 51 parents last week.
Photo by Miawling Lam.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has issued a letter to City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, urging the Department of Education to take action on a number of specific issues concerning the relocation of P.S. 51/Bronx New School from its former home at 3200 Jerome Avenue (We'll have a story on that for you tomorrow).

Diaz, while applauding Walcott's handling of the messy situation, demanded he take further action to ensure this school year start off as easy as possible for the relocated children.
...we are less than three weeks from the start of the new school year and the Department of Education has yet to publish the TCE test reports, sign the lease on the alternate facility, disseminate the new school location to all parents or announce new bus routes and pick-up schedules. In addition, the DOE has not set a date for the school open house, which my office requested at the August 14, 2011, and was publicly promised at the parents meeting on August 18, 2011, nor has the DOE provided a streamlined process for parents who wish to transfer to their zoned school.
Jump below for the full letter. And while you read it, wonder to yourself: How would Cathie Black have handled the situation?

Speeders beware, Bloomy wants traffic cams everywhere

I eluded to this two posts ago, but it deserves its own post.

NYCDriving.com has put together a Google Map of known locations of red-light cameras throughout the city. You'll see 27 locations in the Bronx, none of which appear to be confirmed (I'll drive around Riverdale tonight, check them out and get back to you tomorrow). Actually, one that I can confirm, but isn't on the map (so make it 28), is the intersection of Jerome Ave. and Gun Hill Road. There is a sign, similar to the photo here, that points out a camera.

According to the Daily News, more than $52 million was collected in fines last year from motorists who blew through red lights while the cameras were rolling. Over 1 million fines were given.

There are now 150 red-light cameras scattered throughout the city, and Mayor Bloomberg has put the pressure on Albany to add 40 new overhead contraptions that are also capable of measuring a driver's speed. The electronic info is then used to issue tickets - all without a cop. Bloomberg has also said he would be willing to have a camera on every intersection in the city if it could save lives and raise money at the same time.

Each red-light summons sets you back $50, and what's worse is that it's mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle, along with a photo of the license plate and snapshots of the car as it passes through the intersection. So you make the violation, and then days later your day is ruined. However, no points are put on a driver's license; it's the same as if you got a parking ticket.

Even though studies show that red light cameras save lives, many people oppose them, saying that they represent a Big Brother invasion of privacy and that the motivation behind them is driven by revenue, not safety concerns.

In order to add more cameras--ones that will give drivers a violation for running a light--a law would have to be passed in the State Legislature. From what I've been told, the biggest obstacle is Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt, who is the chair of the transportation committee.

Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, however, thinks they would be a good thing for the city. 

"I’m not opposed to increasing the number of red light cameras; it’s likely to have a positive impact on people’s lives," Dinowitz said, but added that he isn't sure if putting them at every intersection would be a good thing. "It’s pretty hard to argue against red light cameras."

He also said he'd be willing to support them more if the Department of Transportation would speed up the process of putting a traffic signal where the community requests one.

"They’ve been requested and it’s a roundabout bureaucracy," he said. "Bloomberg gets something at the snap of a finger, but the community gets a long, drawn out process." DOT can typically take weeks to study an area, and then the community must wait at least 18 months before the same area can be studied again.

Jump below for a transcript of Bloomberg's back and forth with reporters during a press conference the other day.

A crackdown on nutty drinks in barbershops

It may be a nutty world, but at least there will be less nutty drinks on the streets.

In some northern Manhattan and Bronx barbershops, "nutcracker" drinks have been sold to minors, and up until last week, barbershops that were caught selling nutcrackers were allowed to keep their barber's license. "Nutties," as they're also called, are fruity, sugary, colorful and strong alcoholic drinks. The drink generally combines multiple types of hard liquor including vodka, whiskey, and rum with sugary juices like Kool-Aid. A loophole in the old law allowed barbershops to continue to operate, even after they were caught selling the nutcracker.
 
“The deadly consequences of mixing alcohol with minors are well known and especially dangerous when the alcohol is sold in the form of fruity, easy to drink beverages that are targeted towards young people,” said state Senator Adriano Espaillat, one of the sponsors of the bill that was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.
Espaillat and Assemblyman Nelson Castro applauded Gov. Cuomo for signing the law that will protect minors from the dangerous drinks. The law, also sponsored by Castro, will crack down on the selling of the nutcrackers.

The law will close loopholes and crack down on scrupulous barbershops that sell the nutcracker and other varieties of the drink," Espaillat said. "I commend Governor Cuomo for signing our bill and look forward to taking further steps to protect the safety and well-being of young New Yorkers.”

"The signing of our nutcracker bill is a victory for all those who are concerned about underage drinking, " Castro said. "Nutcrackers contain a high level of alcohol…indeed we do not know what other illegal or dangerous ingredients are added which can be toxic, threaten the health of minors and can even kill them. This legislation will help protect our children and reduce the number of locations where minors can purchase these drinks."

Check back tomorrow or Thursday for another alcohol related story.

Future Amtrak Acela Service to hit 186 mph

Now, if you want to go fast in a car, I suggest looking at this website first so you know where you'll get busted for running a red light (but lets be honest, if you're running red lights you should get busted). But if you want to go fast(er) in a train, well, that will soon be a possibility.

Does anyone really want to go to Jersey faster?
How about high speed rail from New York to Albany instead?
Congressman Eliot Engel announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation will be spending nearly $745 million to upgrade some of the Northeast Corridor’s most heavily-used sections. Improvements between New York City and Trenton will improve on-time performance and reliability, and an initial increase in top operating speeds up to 160 mph and future maximum speeds of 186 mph.

The work is expected to create approximately 12,000 jobs. Some $295 million of the money will ease major delays for trains coming in and out of Manhattan, with new routes allowing Amtrak trains to bypass the busiest passenger rail junction in the nation.

"This grant money will not only help our economy but is a big win for commuters along the Northeast Corridor. These jobs will go to Americans, using American made material, while improving transportation across a region where 50 million Americans live and work," Engel said.

Jump below for the rest.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Henry Hudson Bridge to close sporadically Thursday night/Friday morning

Here's an email I received a little while ago. Seems important:

I wanted to inform you about some middle-of-the-night closures at the Bronx-bound Henry Hudson Bridge, taking place just after midnight Thursday--technically Friday, August 19th. As follows: there will be intermittent (15-minute-long duration) full closures of all northbound (to Bronx) lanes on Friday August 19th from 12:01 AM through 5 AM, for the removal of two large sign gantries. The closures will be established at the Dyckman Street entrance onto the northbound HH Parkway (Bronx-bound). 
Plan accordingly.

Tea Party in Bronx? You Betcha!

Here is a story from this week's Riverdale Review. Check the post below for a story from the Bronx Press.
 
By Miawling Lam

The Tea Party movement is brewing a potent punch in the Bronx.

More than a dozen rambunctious enthusiasts gathered in Morris Park for the party’s latest meeting on August 5.

Activists formed the independent, grass-roots group earlier this year to address voters’ deep-seated disillusionment with President Barack Obama.

Bronx Tea Party District Leader Bob Diamond said the meetings provided a forum for disgruntled residents to discuss the perilous state of the nation.

And although only six meetings have been held to date, Diamond said the Tea Party was alive and kicking in the Boogie Down.

“We are here because our wonderful country is dying and we’re fighting to try to save it,” he said.
“Right now, we are in a battle to save freedom in our country and we’re losing.”

The two-hour meeting, held in a non-descript, two-storey house last Friday evening, kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner before discussions on the economy, same-sex marriage laws and the debt ceiling agreement took over.

As predicted, the vitriol towards Obama was ubiquitous.

Chairman of the Bronx Conservative Party William Newmark labeled the president a “disaster” and said he needed to be booted from the White House.

“Barack Obama is a disaster,” he said. “Let’s just call it for what it is. He’s a disaster."

“I think Obama is such a danger to this country and to our Constitution, I would vote for any Republican against Obama and I’ve never said that in any presidential race. He’s that dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Diamond even went so far to describe Obama as a puppet for rich international banks and corporations.

“Our president is a dedicated Marxist,” he told the captivated crowd.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

Thou$ands wasted on election mailing

For your consideration, here's a story from this week's Bronx Press.

By Miawling Lam

Talk about flushing money down the drain.

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted after the Board of Elections sent out mailings reminding Bronxites to vote in the upcoming Primary Day elections.

The letter, sent to every registered voter in the borough, turned out to be useless because polls won’t actually be open on Sept. 13.

There are no contested primaries for any office in any political party in the Boogie Down this year. In fact, the only political contest in November will be for the Bronx district attorney position and incumbent politico Robert T. Johnson is just about assured a win.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz was so concerned about the mailings creating mass confusion; he fired off a press release as soon as he became aware of the issue.

“Four years ago, when we also didn’t have a primary, many people came out to vote,” he said.

“We are fortunate to live in a community where so many people always vote, and of course I always want to see people come out and vote, but only when there’s an election.

“So, please, vote in the General Election on Tuesday, November 8th, but not until then.”

By law, the Board of Elections is required to notify registered voters about the dates for Primary Day and Election Day. However, because only one generic notice is created for the entire city, Bronxites were left scratching their heads.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Future Bailey Ave streetlight gets a greenlight


Here's a story that didn't make the paper this week.
By Brendan McHugh

Regardless of who is taking credit, the Department of Transportation will install a new traffic light at the intersection of Baily Avenue and West 234th Street later this year, making the awkward intersection much safer.

Last week, Rep. Eliot Engel sent out a press release applauding the DOT for their actions, setting the assertion that his office was responsible for the new light.

“It will better manage traffic in an area around Kingsbridge Little League Field and Bailey Park, making the neighborhood safer for children and their parents,” he said in the statement.

But a few days later, City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell sent out a statement claiming it was, in fact, his office that brought the issue to the DOT.

“Council Member Oliver Koppell is pleased to announce that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved his request for the installation of a traffic signal at Bailey Avenue and West 234th Street,” the statement began.

As it turns out, Engel’s office had request the DOT examine the area for a stop sign months ago, and more recently, Koppel’s office requested DOT study the area for a traffic light.

Jump below for the rest of the story.

This week's Review

Here are the stories from the Aug. 18-24 edition of the Riverdale Review & Bronx Press, which you can pick up on the streets now!

Will P.S. 24 kids be bused out as others are bused in?
Riverdale's most famous teens relocate--to Mumbai, India (Comic book character Archie Andrews and the gang. Don't fret, they'll eventually come back to the Bronx)
Tea Party in the Bronx? You betcha!
Parks Department stonewalls as skating rink project is further delayed
Child safety expert Mary Pulido offers life-saving tips for parents
Riverdale teens deemed 'too wealthy' to warrant city funds
Too much to drink on Johnson Avenue? (The SLA held up two liquor license applications in fear that too many restaurants/bars were on the block. Could you imagine if that was actually a problem?)
Unusual alliance marks Engel effort to help Dutch Jews
Person on the Street: How do you feel about sex education in schools?

Also, in the Bronx Press:
Thou$ands wasted on election mailing

As always, feel free to email us at bronxpolitics [at] gmail.com or send some feedback in the comments as to what you'd like to see in the papers.

Gillibrand pushes non-profit-based jobs bill for urban youth


Here's an article by our intern, Amanda Macaluso, who attended a roundtable discussion about the solutions to creating jobs for at-risk Bronx youth. You can also check out the Daily News' article about the event here, where they mention that some groups may be too small to be helped by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill (but never really explained why).

By Amanda Macaluso

With the Bronx’s overall average of unemployed youth more than double the nation’s average, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined Bronx Assembly Members and clergy leaders at a roundtable this week to discuss job creation in the Bronx.

At the Bronx Christian Fellowship church at 1015 East Gun Hill Road on Tuesday, Aug. 16, the discussion was geared at the at–risk Bronx youth who are unemployed—20 percent—and the legislation that is trying to be passed that will shrink that population.

The Gillibrand sponsored legislation, "The Urban Jobs Act of 2011,” will give non-profit organizations the resources they need to do job training for at risk youth that will assist them in getting back on their feet and becoming an efficient member of the economy.

She anticipates the bill will pass later this year under a larger jobs bill.

“Supporting education and training for our Bronx youth is a smart investment that will help rebuild our local economy and pay dividends over the long term” the junior senator said. “Youth without jobs only hurt our economy, we’re missing out on possible entrepreneurs, doctors, etc.”

The average unemployment rate for minority youths in urban communities in July was approximately 39 percent for African-Americans and 36 percent for Hispanics. The city’s African American and Hispanic youths are twice as likely to drop out of school and make up more than 80 percent of the city’s detention centers. Additionally, the labor force participation rate for youth without a high school diploma is about 20 percentage points lower than the labor for participation rate.

“If our youth had jobs they would not be participating in illegal activities and the city’s recidivism rate would drop incredibly. However, education goes hand in hand with this without a high school diploma or a GED these kids will never get the building blocks they need for the workforce” Gillibrand said.

The Urban Jobs Act would create an Urban Jobs Program that would award competitive grants to national non-profit organizations in partnership with local affiliates, to provide a holistic approach for preparing youth ages 18 though 24 for entry into the job market. A national organization that received that grant would provide a comprehensive set of services including case management services, educational programming, such as GED preparation and skills assessment, employment readiness activities, and support services, such as housing assistance and health referrals.

“These are the types of initiatives that we support as we look to create both preventative as well as intervention solutions for Bronxites,” said Rev. Que English, a senior pastor at the Bronx Christian Fellowship Church. “We believe that implementing solutions from both perspectives will reduce the alarming school to prison pipeline statistics and offer hope where it appears to be absent.”

Gillibrand believes religious organizations are a good fit for building urban job growth; churches and similar institutions already focus on identifying troubled youth and putting them on a better path.

“The faith-based communities are at the heart of this legislation because they are the people that can identify these at–risk youth in their neighborhoods and point them in the direction of our programs to show them where they can get help and show them where they can better themselves. They will raise awareness to their followers,” Gillibrand said.
 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2012: Klein vs. the Rev?

While it's far too complicated to accurately figure out how redistricting will end up, it's really fun to wonder.

Check out this map the Daily Kos put together of the New York State Senate districts--the Bronx is pretty much torn apart and put back together in a completely new way, and it makes for some very different looking districts that what we currently have.

Lets start in Riverdale and move our way eastward.

31st Senate district: The DK calls it the 59th (they randomly moved the numbers around, so I'll just ignore them), and instead of just peaking into Riverdale and consisting mostly of upper Manhattan, the new district would not only hold all of Riverdale, but some of Yonkers as well. Last year, Sen. Adriano Espaillat dominated Riverdale with the backing of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and the Ben Franklin Democratic Club, so adding more of Riverdale would probably work out fine (Someone did point out that Dinowitz would hate this new district. He currently has three senators within his Assembly district (Klein, Rivera and Espaillat), which can definitely come in handy when trying to find bill support in the state Senate).

All images from dailykos.com
Jump below for much more analysis of the Bronx, including one district that could pit Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz against Sen. Jeff Klein.

Three Dinowitz bills signed by Governor

Here's a story that appeared in this week's edition of the Riverdale Review. Enjoy.
 
By Brendan McHugh
 
The outgoing chair of the aging committee had three bills signed into law last week that will protect and serve senior citizens long after he has moved on.
  
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, finishing his term as the aging chair, sponsored bills that protect seniors against domestic violence, aid senior military veterans, and ease the difficulty of gaining state funds for senior communities.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bills into law last Wednesday.
“I am pleased that Gov. Cuomo signed these three bills, each of which will positively impact the lives of many seniors throughout New York State,” Dinowitz said in a statement. The Bronx assemblyman will be the chair of consumer affairs and protection when the new legislative session begins.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mayor of the state Senate

No, it's not Mayor Bloomberg, or Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, but instead it's state Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Rivera has begun using the social media site FourSquare, which allows users to "check in" at various locations. FourSquare boasts over 10 million users, who have the ability to check in to one of the 750 million worldwide locations. When a user checks in to a location more than any other user, he or she becomes "Mayor" of the site until another person visits the location more often.

Many businesses are also on FourSquare and will reward users with discounts or freebies if they check in ever so often (For example, Mother's Bake Shop in Riverdale gives you a free Black & White Cookie with every fifth check in).

Rivera's become the first New York State legislator to launch and actively participate on FourSquare. In the spirit of government transparency and increased accountability, Rivera has invited the residents of the 33rd Senate District to track his events online in order to better understand where and how their Senator is working to serve them.

"As state Senator, I take very seriously my responsibility to ensure the residents of the 33rd Senate District know I am available to them, whether it be through mail, town hall meetings, visiting community events, Facebook, Twitter and now Foursquare,” Rivera said. “I want my office to be creative about ways in which we can continue to engage individuals who may not normally get in contact with their elected officials. That means utilizing new, innovative ways for my constituents to find out what I am doing to serve them in their communities and to be able to hold me accountable as their representative.”

Rivera has been a champion of social media since he took office this year, actively using Facebook and Twitter to interact with his constituents. The accessibility has been a vast difference from his predecessor. 

Rivera can be found on Foursquare by going to http://www.foursquare.com/senatorrivera. To view a real-time, updated map of where Senator Rivera has visited constituents in the district, go to Rivera’s website: http://rivera.nysenate.gov/.

Joseph Mercurio, a veteran Democratic political strategist, said politicians need to be careful when using social media, but added that New York City politicians should probably use it far more than they currently do.

"Frankly, in the New York City area, it’s barely used," he said. "Especially with cost of television and radio, you’d think people would use it more."

He added that politicians simply need to be responsible and know that regardless if it's them or a staffer handling the social media, if something damaging is put online, it will probably find its way into public (See: Anthony Weiner).

"If you use it properly, Facebook, FourSquare, Twitter and YouTube can be a very, very power medium."

Espada defends Soundview


Pedro Espada defends his Bronx healthcare
network at a press conference yesterday

By David Greene

Former state Senator Pedro Espada came out swinging against at least two articles attributed to unnamed sources that stated Espada's Soundview Healthcare Network will be closing for good on Friday, Aug. 12.

Joined by Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr., Espada held a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 9, where he singled out Gov. Andrew Cuomo, charging that the governor, "is picking the target and firing these missiles."

Stating that he is fighting for the 200 worker's currently employed by the Soundview Healthcare Network and it's thousands of patients, the former senator vowed, "This clinic will not close... the body is alive, the mind is well, were not planning any burials."

Diaz released a letter he sent to Cuomo later in the day, saying, "Since  your  announcement of the indictments and civil court filings, there is  a  growing  perception by many that you have a personal score to settle with Mr. Espada regardless of the due process to which he is entitled to by the court."

Later in the letter, he pleaded with the governor: "Please  keep  in  mind  that  the  Soundview HealthCare  Network  serves a minority-represented  community  and  assists the underserved. It cares for those who cannot always care for themselves, speak for themselves, and help themselves."

According to the New York Post (one of the reports with the unnamed sources), the state Medicaid Inspector General's Office was considering stripping Soundview of $10 million for a plethora of ethical abuses -- which could trigger closure of the clinics.

This week in the Review...

Plenty of good stuff coming to the blog today, but until then, here are the stories in this week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press (Aug. 11-17, 2011):

Mixed bag for local schools in state test results
Woman throws herself in front of oncoming subway train
More muni-meters to pick you pocket
Lawsuit contemplated in assault of PS 24 student during school hours
BronxNet to get $$$ windfall in new Cablevision deal
VCP skate rink clues to be found in Brooklyn
Three Dinowitz bills signed by Governor
Party is not Engel's cup of Tea
Person on the Street: Do you support the debt deal recently passed in Congress?

Let us know if you have any ideas for future stories on what you'd like asked in Person on the Street. Email us at bronxpolitics[at]gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dinowitz fighting for Bronx post offices

Below is a letter from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz requesting that two post offices in his district remain open.

Postal worker Wilfredo Figueroa
with his fellow union members outside
the Bronx General Post Office last month.
Last week, the United States Postal Service announced they were studying 34 offices in the city for possibly closure. Of the 34, half (17) are in the Bronx.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr and Rep Eliot Engel have also voiced their support for the offices. All three Bronx pols have said senior citizens and local mom and pop stores will be terribly hurt if certain offices close.

In the letter, Dinowitz references the distance between Fieldston and Kingsbridge. For those of you not familiar with the area, to get from one office to the other, a person would have to walk down (then back up) 120 stairs between Waldo Avenue and Irwin Avenue, and then seven blocks south. I suppose you could hop on a bus to get there, but really, that shouldn't even be necessary.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rep. Engel's statement on deficit compromise

Rep. Eliot Engel voted against the debt bill earlier this week. Here is a statement from him which ran in this week's Riverdale Review. The bill, despite opposition from every Bronx congressmen, overwhelmingly passed.

Jump below for the entire statement:
 
I voted against the debt “compromise” bill because it is inherently unfair in forcing the middle class and the poor to pay for deficit reduction, while letting the wealthy and large corporations off the hook. The tax code is tilted in favor of the wealthy and large corporations, those who pay lobbyists to advocate for special favors. Hedge fund traders, who make millions, pay a lower percentage of taxes than a middle class family – that is totally unfair.

This week in the Review...

Here are the stories in this week's issue of the Riverdale Review (Aug. 4-10):

Battery Park skate rink fails; what's different here?
Local schools will suffer as budgets are cut across the board
Sunday triathlon means highway closures
All teachers at P.S. 24 granted tenure
Engel votes 'no' on federal deficit compromise
Moerdler, new to MTA board, pledges 'Extreme Subway Makeover'
Engel's own explanation of why he voted against the deficit compromise
Postal workers 'stamping mad' over closures
Person on the Street: How do you feel about bike lanes throughout town?

Bronx organizations clamor for capital funding windfall


By Miawling Lam

Local schools, community centers, housing projects and parks will share nearly $13 million, thanks to a capital funds bonanza.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. last week announced that he secured $12.85 million in funding as part of his FY2012 budget requests.

Diaz said the financial windfall would benefit organizations in all four corners of the Bronx.

He said the cash injection would create new housing opportunities, fund the purchase of smartboards and computers in schools and most importantly, greenify the borough.