|Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr joins Rabbi Levi Shemtov to|
light the largest menorah in the Bronx, located at Bell Tower Park.
* Engel and Klein reach for the pinnacles of power > Congessman Eliot Engel has been anointed as the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington D.C., and as such he wants to push for peace in the Middle East. The Foreign Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over bills and investigations related to foreign affairs of the United States.
* DNA evidence helps local police solve cold case murder > Detectives from the 50th Precinct finally may have cracked the 1993 murder of a prostitute in North Riverdale, thanks to DNA analysis. Police said Lucius Crawford, a 60-year-old ex-con from Mount Vernon, last week confessed to the fatal stabbing of Nella West--a crime he allegedly committed nearly two decades ago. According to police, the body of West, 38, was found by a cab driver face-up outside 5815 Liebig Avenue just after 3 a.m. on October 20, 1993. The victim, a known prostitute, suffered multiple stab wounds to the head, face and torso, a broken eye socket and a crushed skull during the brutal attack that took her life. The cold case had remained unsolved until five-og Detective Chris Boerke and Malcolm Reiman from the Bronx Homicide Squad made a breakthrough earlier this year. The pair ran biological evidence collected from the scene through the current DNA database and found a match.
* Local nursing home rocked by sex assault allegation > The distraught family of an 81-year-old female resident who was sexually assaulted at Hudson Pointe may file a lawsuit against the nursing care facility. Experienced Cheryl R. Eisberg Moin, who has been enlisted by the victim's family, accused the facility's administration of breaching their duty of care toward Gertrudis Munoz. Police allege Munoz was sexually assaulted bby a janitor in the third-floor dementia unit of the Hudson Point at Riverdale Center of Nursing and Rehabilitation on November 29. Jorge Sarmiento, 56, of Washington Heights, has since been arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person and attempted sexual assault.
* Algiers still without gas > Residents of The Algiers in central Riverdale remain without gas nearly three weeks after a fire on the south side of the complex forced Con Edison to shut off gas service.
* Reporter tossed from community board meeting > The chair of Community Board 8 allegedly violated the state's open meetings law when he tossed the media out of this month's executive committee meeting. CB8 chair Robert Fanuzzi asked a reporter from the Riverdale Review to leave last Wednesday's meeting after members spent 40 minutes discussing whether the law applied to the executive committee.
* Settlement in co-op discrimination suit > Parties involved in a housing discrimination lawsuit at 3800 Independence Avenue have reached an agreement. According to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office, Loventhal Silver Riverdale, Goodman Management and Jesus Velasco allegedly discriminated against African-American apartment seekers. The release charged that Velasco, the building's superintendent, admitted he informed prospective African-American buyers that there were no vacant units in the complex. On the very same day, he informed potential Caucasian buyers that there were available units. The United States District Court in the Southern District of New York signed a settlement and consent decree on October 16, but news of the decision only surfaced last week. Loventhal Silver Riverdale and Velasco are required to pay a $40,000 civil penalty.
* North Riverdale merchants weigh BID > Merchants in North Riverdale are in the preliminary stages of establishing a business improvement district in the neighborhood. The ambitious plan is still two to three years away, but local merchants said the BID's formation is part of a wider beautification project.
* Fuel conversion strains local buildings > Building owners and managers are already scrambling to meet their first deadline under the Clean Heat program announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year. The program requires all residences to convert from No. 6 heating oil to cleaner-burning No. 4 by 2014. By 2030, all buildings must upgrade to the still-cleaner No. 2 or to natural gas. According to Con Edison's gas conversion procedures, building owners have until January 11, 2013, to submit both an acknowledgment and a load letter in order to participate in the 2013 area growth program. A load letter requires that a certified plumber examine a buildings' heating system and come up with an estimate for the conversion. But with the influx of requests, there are not enough certified plumbers to go around because many are involved with repairs in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
* Spellman charged with manslaughter > Riverdale resident Kevin Spellman, a now-retired NYPD detective, was convicted last Thursday of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Kingsbridge resident Drane Nikac in October 2009, Bronx district attorney Robert Johnson announced. Witnesses said Spellman drove through a red light on Kingsbridge Avenue near West 232nd Street at around 6:30 a.m. when the victim, a 66-year-old Albanian native, began crossing the avenue with a cart containing bottles and cans for recycling. Spellman, 45, faces up to 15 years in prison and is free on bail awaiting sentencing on February 15.
* Benefit concert at HIR for Sandy relief > A varied lineup of performers will offer a Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert this Sunday, December 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. Admission is $36, but donations of larger amounts are welcome. Proceeds will go to a fund administered by the UJA-Federation of New York to help those still in need as a result of the October storm that wrecked several of the city's neighborhoods.
* Local workers sought for 230th Street mall construction > It will be the $54 million two-story shopping mall that Bronx workers helped to build. The developer of the Broadway Plaza shopping center has announced that the borough's tradesmen will have first crack at filling a portion of the construction jobs on offer. Equity One last week revealed they have started hiring for the project and are seeking resumes from qualified, but currently unemployed, tradesmen who live in the northwest Bronx.
* Koppell declares war on graffiti > Graffiti vandals be warned: If you plan to tag in Riverdale, it probably won't stay up for long. Councilman G. Oliver Koppell has teamed up with CitySolve, a graffiti removal business, to remove to handiwork of graffiti vandals across his district. Koppell kicked off his campaign last Friday and personally painted over defaced sections of the West 235th Street Henry Hudson Parkway pedestrian overpass during the launch.
Also, in the Bronx Press:
* Campaign to save Clinton HS gathers steam > DeWitt Clinton High School on Mosholu Parkway, labeled as a failing school for the past three years by the Department of Education, has been on the chopping block twice and has become a dumping ground for failing students. Yet students, parents and teachers poured into the school auditorium for a hearing on December 6 to show their support and to prove to the DOE that their school deserves another chance.
* Eight injured in mattress fire in Longwood > At least five residents of an apartment building, said to be a recently converted homeless shelter, are recovering after a mattress fire near the lobby entrance. Firefighters got the call at 5:30 p.m. on December 9, as the billowing black smoke climbed up into the six-story building at 941 Intervale Avenue, creating panic among the trapped residents. RMS reported at least eight injuries, including five civilian and three firefighters.
* Norwood resident gunned down along Murder Row > A popular Norwood man was shot and killed during an early-morning dispute on Decatur Avenue, just two blocks from his home. The deadly confrontation took place outside of a three-family home at 3089 Decatur Avenue between Mosholu Parkway North and East 204th Street at 2:2 a.m. on December 9. The victim was later identified as Gary Rodriguez, 46, of 3285 Decatur Avenue.