Bronx Bureau Launches May 16 at Bronx Museum of the Arts

30 Apr

The City Limits Bronx Bureau (formerly Bronx News Network), is being officially launched on Thursday, May 16 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will lead with a discussion of the city’s homeless policy and will be followed by a networking reception and free tour of the museum. Learn more and register at this link.

I am now the managing editor at City Limits. Hope you can make this event!

-Jordan Moss

P.S. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at jordan-at-citylimits.org. Thanks!

Told to Come for Gas, Residents Leave Armory With Nothing

4 Nov

Council Member Fernando Cabrera, who set up a help center at the Kingsbrige Armory talked to Chris Emdin and other frustrated residents right after police told them there would be no gasoline provided after they waited in line the entire day. (Photo: J. Moss)

Yesterday, at the end of a day of biking with a friend and our daughters, we decided to go check out the Kingsbridge Armory where I heard on Facebook that morning that Councilman Fernando Cabrera was setting up a service center for Bronx people in need.

We biked over there from my house a few blocks away and brought some non-perishable food I had in the house.

There was a line around the block, from Reservoir Ave. looped around to East 195th St. Almost every person on that line had with them one or more red plastic containers for gasoline. Early that morning they had heard that gas would be available at various locations in the city. It was announced by the governor and the info showed up on various web sites. People arrived as early as 8 a.m. (Though I somehow didn’t see it myself — maybe because I was focused on the people in line on the sidewalk — I’ve heard multiple reports that there were lines of cars headed into the Armory reaching back into Bedford Park.)

The massive Armory drill hall (where “Back to the Future” car scenes were filmed) was commandeered by Council Member Fernando Cabrera for distribution of food, water and other supplies. They already had piles of it, organized by enthusiastic religious volunteers like Gaby Santizo who works with the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. Cabrera himself is pastor of a local church and has many connections in the evangelical community.

Gaby Santizo of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition helped lead volunteers at the Armory yesterday. (Photo: J. Moss)

At around 4:30 when we arrived, several politicians were gathering on the drill hall floor with a large contingent of police who had asked them early that morning for space to distribute the gasoline. As it never showed up and people were beginning to get testy, the cops were planning to announce to those on line that there would be no gas.

Chris Emdin, one of many fed-up local residents on the line, told Councilman Cabrera that he was there since 10 a.m. because the government advertised the opportunity. He heard about it on the TV and on the borough president’s Facebook page, he said.

The pols, including State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblyman Jose Rivera, stayed way past the announcement. They heard out the people, offered their help, told them they were as upset as them, etc. Cabrera gave Emdin his cell number. Deputy Inspector Jospeh Dowling of the 52nd Precinct, and other officers, also hung on for the back-and-forth with frustrated residents.

Cabrera said the governor and mayor should’ve predicted the gas problem before the storm and hired consultants to help them figure out a strategy of getting it out to people in worst-case scenarios.

As for other needs like providing food and batteries and generators, Cabrera said other states know better know better how to capitalize on the power of nonprofits and religious groups from the get-go, rather than wait for people like him to volunteer in the middle of the crisis. “Down south they know how utilize this,” he said. Here, he added, the city and state “failed to use the grassroots.”

Emdin is a professor of education at Columbia University’s Teachers’ College. In an e-mail yesterday evening he told me he does research at schools around the boroughs and needs gas for that and to help family and neighbors get good produce. He wrote a thorough post about his experience yesterday here. Here’s an excerpt:

As the crowd grew more thin, an officer from another NYPD van mentioned that the gas intended for the Bronx was directed to parts of the city who needed it more. As this message came across, the people seemed to understand. They had empathy for other parts of the city.

Unfortunately, what officials failed to recognize was that while others may have needed the gas more, residents of the Bronx needed to know they were considered. A borough of people who have had political decisions about their neighborhoods made without their input for decades needed to know that they weren’t being toyed with. They needed to feel that they weren’t disposable.

Many Bronxites can struggle for a few days without gas. In fact, many were content with not having gas until they were told that some was made available for them. They came to the armory not because they wanted a hand out, but because they were invited to. They showed up and organized themselves calmly because they were appreciative. Unfortunately, as is always the case with those who lack power, and all too often the case with residents of the Bronx, they were dispersed without concern, treated unkindly, and asked to just grin and bear it.

Today marks another chapter in the story of disregard for the residents of the Bronx. The Great Gas Hoax at the Kingsbridge Armory adds another chapter to the sad tale of poor education, mistreatment, and police brutality for the Bronx. At what point will we be valued?

Regardless of when the gas shows up, the site will continue to provide food, clothing and supplies for as long as its needed, primarily to local Bronx organizations able to distribute it.

One Sign of Storm in NW Bronx

30 Oct

Sandy didn’t cause nearly as much devastation in the northwest Bronx as in many other parts of the city but there were certainly some clear signals it had passed through. This tree came up from its roots and put a portion of Albany Crescent in Kingsbridge temporarily out of commission.

This tree ruined a car and blocked off the northwest section of Albany Crescent. Photo: J. Moss

For more on Sandy’s Bronx impact, check out reports here and here.

 

 

NYPD Blocks Access to Neighborhood Crime Stats; Bill to Set Them Free Held Up in Council

26 Sep

If you want to know whether crime is up or down in your neighborhood, you’re out of luck. While the NYPD releases the data for precincts — which are as big as many U.S. Cities — on their summary CompStat reports on-line, they don’t make the stats for sectors within precinct available to the public.

The Norwood News (where I was editor until last year) began raising the issue of the sector stat lockdown several years ago and continues to do so under editor Alex Kratz.

Council Member Fernando Cabrera introduced legislation last year that would require the NYPD to post the sector data on the web monthly. It’s gone nowhere. I take a deeper look at what’s holding things up and the sector stat issue in general in this City Limits article. Take a look.

Naomi Rivera Won’t Debate and Host Shares Opinion of Her Absence

12 Sep

Naomi Rivera declined to participate in the 80th Assembly District debate on BronxTalk on Monday night.

Click here for video of the debate and following is a statement from the show’s host, Gary Axelbank:

Unfortunately, although we had worked very hard to coordinate the schedule for this debate with the incumbent, Naomi Rivera has flat declined our invitation to appear. Editorially, I will say that asking people for their vote and then not be willing to participate in a debate with other candidates is a posture that we reject wholeheartedly. The Bronx is made stronger by responsive elected officials who respect the democratic process, their opponents, and most importantly, their constituents. By refusing to appear tonight the assemblywoman is directly insulting everyone involved, BronxTalk, Bronxnet, her fellow candidates, and you the people of the Bronx. In fact, it’s the second time she has declined to participate. Viewers will remember she didn’t appear in 2010 either. Given this program’s ongoing commitment to keeping Bronxites informed and engaged, we abhor the very notion of it. And so she will be represented by an empty chair throughout tonight’s proceedings.

Bronx Politics Discussion on BronxTalk at 9 p.m.

27 Aug

From Gary Axelbank: Tonight “BronxTalk will welcome the editor and political writer of the Riverdale Press to talk about Bronx politics. Both have a lot to say about the state of our local political system, redistricting, the relative quality of candidates, etc. You can weigh-in, too, on the phone. Monday night at 9:00pm on Bronxnet’s channel 67 [on Cablevision] and Verizon Fios 33.”

We’re hearing Bob Kappstatter, who now edits and spills ink for, the Bronx Times, may call in, too.

If you don’t have Cablevision or Fios, I’ll put up a link to video of the show, which doesn’t get enough buzz. So buzz!

‘Ne Cede Malis’ Still Bueno?

27 Aug

New York Times reporter Sam Roberts blogs about the history of Bronx motto “Ne Cede Malis,” (Yield Not to Evil) which apparently took effect in 1912, but hasn’t had substantial success in deterring the civic evils perpetrated by many politicians. There are some, like Fordham professor Mark Naison, who think the motto should be more reflective of the borough’s progress in recent years. But others like, Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Fernando Ferrer, current and former BP’s respectively, think it’s as important now as it ever was.

Schlein May Cash In with No Money Down on No-Bid Project

25 Aug

A Bronx community garden the city razed to make way for a housing development project looks like it’s going to grow some greenbacks for Stanley Schlein, a long-time Bronx Democratic political fixer with a rather controversial work history.

Sean Carlson, a CUNY Graduate School of Journalism student guided by veteran investigative journalist Tom Robbins’, wrote this piece for the Mott Haven Herald. It’s a must-read, particularly in a city run by a mayor whose biggest claim to accomplishment is he hasn’t had to abide by parochial politics as usual.

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