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.
The New York Times, silent for weeks while the Daily News took aim at the New York City Housing Authority for sitting on top of millions of dollars in federal funds while thousands of deteriorating, mold-infested apartments are left unattended, finally gave the issue some ink on its editorial page today.
As Bronx Matters pointed out in a previous post, a thorough City Limits investigation into the city’s reliance on private consultants — including Boston Consulting Group , the one NYCHA head John Rhea hired for a review of his agency and previously worked for himself — was first to declare that the city paid big bucks for a review of the public housing agency but hadn’t released it to the public.
It’s not too late for the Daily News to tip its hat toward City Limits.
First things first … The Daily News reported the other day on the New York City Housing Authority’s $10 million contract with the private firm Boston Consulting Group, which NYCHA is keeping under lock and key, and the fact that the agency’s chief used to work for BCG. It’s an important story and great it’s getting more ink, but the paper failed to acknowledge that City Limits broke all aspects of this story back in their November issue along with their excellent wide-ranging investigation into the tremendous spike in private consultants retained by the Bloomberg administration. It’s called: “Beyond City Time: When private firms take on public work, there’s more than money at risk.”
Failure of the dailies and other big news outlets to credit smaller ones that broke stories first is chronic. In my 17 years as Norwood News editor, it was a never-ending (and unsuccessful) battle to get big papers and broadcast outlets like Bronx News 12 to credit us for stories they picked up from us. Instead they regularly used Bronx community papers as a wire service but without credit or compensation. It was nice to see Arthur Brisbane, The New York Times’ public editor, address this in his column last Sunday. He made an excellent case for how unfair it was for The Times to run their investigation of lax prosecution of sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community without crediting the smaller weeklies like Jewish Week and the Jewish Daily Forward who did dogged, ongoing reporting of the issue long before the Times got to it. We need to keep up the drumbeat. Like the stonewalling public agencies that all good journalists try to hold accountable, the bigger outlets won’t change their arrogant ways until we all direct some of that sunlight on them.
OK, that said, back to the critical issue at hand: NYCHA forked over $10M of NYC taxpayer cash to BCG to examine the agency’s growing problems but they won’t let the public see it. This is not some abstract wonkish policy endeavor. NYCHA is way behind on repairs of apartments in desperate conditions where residents’ health and well-being are at stake. If there’s any information in that report indicating how that can be reversed, and even if there isn’t, the public has the right to know. We all paid for it after all.
Yesterday, The Daily News (yes, we’ll credit them despite the above lamentations, because it’s the right thing to do) reported on Bronx residents of NYCHA buildings threatening to sue the Bloomberg administration for the backlog in repairs. The Bronx Documentary Center in Melrose also had a stirring, moving photo exhibit a couple of months ago illustrating how conditions at nearby NYCHA buildings are undermining the health of residents young and old in the local projects.
Bottom line: The lockdown of public information (which is something of a theme in Bronx Matters this week) harms the public. We should all do what we can to set it free.
Investigative reporter Tom Robbins and I were on BronxTalk with Gary Axelbank on Monday to discuss the “Phantom Landlord” investigation we did with Tom’s students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in City Limits. Click here to watch.
The show is also re-broadcast throughout the week on Cablevision channel 67 and Verizon FIOS 33 at 9 p.m.
Reposting this today. See update below on my appearance with Tom Robbins on BronxTalk tonight at 9 p.m. -Jordan Moss
How do particularly irresponsible landlords get away with so much neglect for so long?
A panel of housing experts will discuss potential solutions at Manhattan College today, April 23 at 4 p.m. in a forum called Safe at Home: Putting Teeth in Code Enforcement and Holding Landlords Accountable. The event is free and all are welcome.
The participants will be as follows:
- Tom Robbins, Investigative Journalist in Residence, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
- Harold Shultz, Senior Fellow, Citizens Housing and Planning Council
- Gregory Lobo Jost, Deputy Director, University Neighborhood Housing Program
- Kerri White, Organizer, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB)
- Sandra Erickson, Bronx Property Owner
- Ivan Pichardo, Tenant Leader, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
City Limits editor Jarrett Murphy will moderate the panel discussion which stems from a recent investigation in the magazine about landlord Frank Palazzolo by Robbins, his class at CUNY; and Jordan Moss, former editor of the Norwood News, who will also participate in the forum.
The event, sponsored by the Manhattan College Urban Affairs and Government Departments, City Limits and BronxMatters.com, will take place in Scala Auditorium on the first floor of the Leo Engineering Building, 3825 Corlear Avenue (a block west of Broadway, between E. 238th and E. 240th streets).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with any questions.
UPDATE: Following the event, Robbins and Moss will appear on BronxTalk, the TV talk show hosted by Gary Axelbank on Cablevision channle 67 and Verizon FIOS channel 33. The show airs live at 9 p.m. and is re-broadcast at the same time through Friday.
State Senator Gustavo Rivera along with several advocacy organizations are putting on a housing forum today on the first floor of the Lehman College Music Building from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Issues being discussed will include rent regulation, tenant organization, Section 8 issues and foreclosure prevention. For more information, email Josiris Urena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good afternoon. Thanks for reading Bronx Matters.
Here are some links we think are important and/or interesting …
Evictions are way up in the city, particularly in the Bronx. Sally Dunford of West Bronx Housing and Neighborhood Resource Center, tells WNYC: “I don’t even advertise our services because I’m too afraid of what would happen if we actually started advertising.”
Some delectable photos of dishes served up at the Khmer New Years Festival on Marion Avenue recently.
A roving foreclosure blockade came to Bronx Supreme Court yesterday, resulting in 14 arrests. It was Organizing for the Occupation’s seventh blockade. They’re headed to Brooklyn on Thursday. An important fact from Daniel Beekman’s coverage of the same action: The Bronx endures fewer foreclosures than Brooklyn and Queens. But no urban county in the state suffers more foreclosures per mortgage than the Boogie Down, said Justin Haines, foreclosure prevention director at Legal Services NYC – Bronx.
Want to learn more about the country’s foreclosure crisis? Read this special report on Pro Publica (a nonprofit investigative news site).
Steve Ritz of the Green Bronx Machine continues to spread the gospel of urban farming and good food to students and the adults in their lives. (Video)
10 very brief Life Lessons of many in the archives of Esquire.
Beyond our borough: Why San Diego is not hopping on the teacher evaluation bandwagon.
Assemblyman Jose Rivera posted this on his Facebook page yesterday, a video documenting the 1980 South Bronx People’s convention in the rubble of Charlotte Street. There’s footage of President Carter famously visiting the area in 1977 along with south Bronx activists joined by allies from around the country as they met in a makeshift conventional hall on Charlotte Street and marched to the official Democratic Convention site at Madison Square Garden in 1980.
The Bronx faces incredible challenges, struggling with high unemployment, poverty and some of the worst health statistics in the state. But as we address those issues it’s important to remember what Bronxites have already overcome on Charlotte Street and devastated neighborhoods all over the borough.
Anyone out there take part in the South Bronx Peoples’ Convention? Would love to hear from you.