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High School Student Highlights NYC’s Crime Data Cover-Up; Adds to Previous Bronx Reporting

11 Nov

In the Daily News last Friday, high school student Josh Waldman’s letter to the editor tops the page with the headline: “Let us see all the crime numbers.”

Waldman reports how the Police Department keeps all but the current week’s crime statistics a secret. He points out, when the NYPD posts the current precinct-wide weekly data known as CompStat, it removes all prior stats off the site!

Congrats Josh for highlighting this critical issue that virtually no press is paying close attention to, save the Norwood News and City Limits, where I wrote this article almost two years ago.

It focused on the fact that it’s critical to know how current precinct stats compare to past precinct data and, even more importantly, to know where in those precincts specific criminal activity is growing or consistently problematic. That’s called sector stats, more material that the NYPD won’t release. Precincts are the same size as the community districts they are in and many, serving 100,000 residents, are bigger than most American cities. That’s why sector stats are so critical. They keep track of the same crime data — assaults, car thefts, robberies, burglary and murder — as CompStat data. But sector stats provide the data virtually neighborhood by neighborhood.

In the City Limits article, I reported on Bronx councilman Fernando Cabrera’s bill that resulted in law. He was inspired by Norwood News coverage by me and Alex Kratz on the fact that the NYPD refuses to make sector data available. Norwood News did eventually acquire the info through FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests but that took more than a year. All media, community boards, community groups, and interested individuals should submit similar FOIL requests to pressure NYPD and city government in general to make the information regularly available.

Cabrera achieved some, but not all, of the change he sought, particularly the provision of sector stats. In maps where you can click on circles indicating some data, the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) website does show generally what block crimes have been committed on but only on a monthly basis. And the site doesn’t indicate sector or neighborhood crime totals. So forget about complete, clear neighborhood sector data. DoITT has kept that hidden as well.

When it became law, Greg Faulkner, Cabrera’s chief of staff, said his office had a similar concern about the map. “It doesn’t have enough details and our vision of it was there was going to be a lot more,” said Greg Faulkner, Cabrera’s chief of staff, in the City Limits article. “We need to hear whether there were specific security concerns about why they were left out.” He added back then that the website was not shared with Council members before it was fully implemented. Had it been, Faulkner says, the city “would have been able to determine whether their implementation matched the Council’s intent.”

It clearly hasn’t.

One more thing:

Waldman, the high school student, even created a NYC Shootings website that holds on to crime stat data that the NYPD removes. (It looks great but it’s not functioning at the moment. Josh, let me know when it’s up an running again.) If students at every high school in the city were keeping an eye on what was going on around them, and acting on it like Waldman, it would have an impact on city policy.

NY1 Report: Bronx DA Candidate at Center of Controversial Rikers Case

23 Oct

The Bronx Democratic candidate Darcel Clark faces new controversy beyond the fact that she is essentially an appointed successor to retired district attorney Robert Johnson in a borough led only by Democratic elected officials. As a former judge she presided over the case of Kalief Browder, “a Bronx youth who committed suicide earlier this year after he had been held at Rikers Island for three years without trial,” NY1 reports.

More on Bronx DA Race, and Lack Thereof

6 Oct

As explained in previous post, Darcel Clark replacing District Attorney Robert Johnson is a virtual certainty thanks to Johnson’s post-primary resignation and Bronx Democrats dropping Clark in his place. A Republican lawyer, Robert D. Siano, has entered the race, but with no other elected Republican in the entire Bronx of 1.4 million residents, his chances are, uh, a tad limited.

In the Daily News today, Errol Louis writes about wrongful convictions during Johnson’s 28-year tenure,  and says, “voters deserve to hear much more about the decade [Clark] spent in Johnson’s office and how she intends to correct the scourge of wrongful convictions.”

Great Links to Bronx Artists and Growing Art Scene

3 Jun

There are so many Bronx artists and an emerging art scene. BX 200 has done a great job on its website promoting and linking to both. Check out this list of artists and this list of art scenes (organizations, galleries, etc.).

Still Waiting for Citywide Coverage of Staten Island Courthouse’s Disastrous Delay

2 Jun

There is still no certainty regarding when an architecturally impressive, yet incomplete, courthouse will open for business on Staten Island, after more than a decade of delay and more than $100 million over budget.

And there still hasn’t been any citywide coverage!

As I mentioned in Bronx Matters’ last post on this, this is an ongoing fiscal travesty following a similar construction, and civic, disaster in the Bronx. There has been zero citywide coverage in Big Apple newspapers as far as I can tell, even as the crisis continues. What’s up with that?!

Here are links to a more recent article and editorial from January on the Staten Island Advance’s silive.com website.

The Advance says Mayor de Blasio can’t predict the move-in date,  but Gov. Cuomo should be interviewed too, as it’s the state’s Dormitory Authority that is responsible for the construction. Heck, at this point, every city and state elected official should be called on it too as no one seems to be making any noise.

Bronx Matters’ ears are wide open.

New Bronx Community Board 8 District Manager

22 May

Community Board 8 has a brand new district manager, Patricia Manning. Yet she’s a 30-year veteran of the office. (I remember working with her briefly in the early 1990s, when I was working for the borough president and the Department of Sanitation in Community Boards 11 and 8 on education and helping communities adhere to the brand new recycling law. I also remember her daughter worked (works?) at the Botanical Garden in the Bronx. More news on her new gig in The Riverdale Press.

5.28.14 — Bronx News that Matters

28 May

Harry Bubbins, head of the Friends of Brook Park, lays out his position on why the city’s financial support of FreshDirect taking over a chunk of the south Bronx’s waterfront has gotta go.. He calls on Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. to get back to his previous positions and on Mayor de Blasio to follow his current ones.

Beginning last night, Bronx Times broke a story that Montefiore is merging with Yeshiva University’s Einstein College of Medicine. Montefiore announced it today, the paper just reported.

Do you want the Citi Bike program up and running — uh, biking — in the Bronx?

Think the Bronx is, or was ever, in tough shape? It certainly was, especially in the 70s and 80s, but that seems like nothing compared to what Detroit is going through now. What do you think?

Anyone with kids in city schools knows how limited or completely absent sports and phys ed are in public schools. Jim Dwyer focuses on this issue in the Bronx.

Norwood News reports on the 52nd Precinct cracking down on barbecuing in local parks. Community orgs are doing the same.

Arthur Avenue, the Bronx’s (better) Little Italy, is now home to a new Latin fusion joint, reports Bronx News 12.

5.27.14 Bronx News that Matters

27 May

Though the Daily News reported on Sunday that State Senator Adriano Espaillat, a challenger to longtime Congressman Charles Rangel, won’t appear on a BronxTalk debate “due to Albany’s legislative session,” host Gary Axelbank told Bronx Matters today that Espaillat has decided to take part. Meanwhile, Rangel’s office asked Axelbank for a conference call “for rules and other debate procedures” along with staffers of the other candidates. Axelbank responded by setting that up for 2 p.m. today. Stay tuned on Bronx Matters for debate status update.

Councilman Fernando Cabrera announced to tenants of NYCHA’s Ft. Independence Houses in Kingsbridge that its community center won’t be closed, according to The Riverdale Press. Cabrera said NYCHA confirmed that but the Riverdale Press said that “in in recent e-mails, NYCHA’s press office said a determination was yet to be made about the authority’s 106 community centers.” It’s a citywide issue: “The way Mr. Bloomberg left the centers last year, the city would end funding for 57 centers operated by NYCHA itself this June. Nonprofit agencies support the other 49 sites,” the Press reported.

Speaking of NYCHA housing, the Bronx Times reported on the agency’s new commissioner, Shola Olatoye, meeting with residents and local politicians at Pelham Parkway Houses and getting an earful of complaints about long delays making critical repairs — a chronic, unresolved problem during the Bloomberg administration.

State Senator Jeffrey Klein and Assemblyman Marcus Crespo (both Bronx reps) are partnering on legislation to keep alcohol out of the hands (and mouths) of underage drinkers by allowing retailers to swipe bad IDs among other efforts. The Daily News reports that 400 minors were admitted to two city hospitals — North Central Bronx and Jacobi — just over Memorial Day weekend in 2012 and 2013.

Parishioners are battling the proposed closure of Visitation Church in Kingsbridge. St. Gabriel’s Church in Riverdale would also have to cut down its weekday masses. (I’ve also heard that Visitation will merge with St. John’s Church on Kingsbridge Avenue near 231st Street.)

Hunts Point Express files a detailed report on the possibilities for the rebirth of waterfront land where a decrepit Marine Transfer Station in Hunts Point is expected to be torn down.