Tag Archives: Bronx politics

After 8 Years of Nothingness, Armory Ice-Rink Plan Ditched

17 Dec

Dec. 17, 2021 …. Breaking News (really, I’m not kidding!): After almost 30 years of fits and starts (and a lotta stops) on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory, the plan the city, and its chosen developer, got the OK on has been officially and legally ditched.

Almost exactly eight years ago — on Dec. 10, 2013 — the future of the historic site was handed over to KNIC (Kingsbridge National Ice Center) a group that was planning to turn the armory into a home for nine ice skating rinks, particularly for hockey teams, and 50,000-square-feet of space for local nonprofit community organizations. (The armory — the biggest one in the world! — is over 520,000 square feet.)

But virtually zilch has happened since.

So, earlier today, wondering where the heck things were at long after after KNIC took on the project, I wrote to the city agency responsible for the program: the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). This was their breaking-news response:

“We are disappointed the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory — a centerpiece of the Kingsbridge community — has been set back but we look forward to working with the community to rethink the uses of this historic building.”

And referring to a recent legal ruling that led to their disappointment, EDC added this:

“In a recent decision, the First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York agreed with New York City Economic Development Corporation that KNIC did not provide the necessary evidence of financing for the ice center project at Kingsbridge Armory by the required deadline in 2016.  Therefore, the project will not be proceeding. We are disappointed that KNIC has been unable to realize the financing for the project, despite continued efforts since the 2016 deadline.”

It’s been almost 30 years since I and the Norwood News first covered the armory (see photo below), when the state handed it over to the city. The paper covered it relentlessly over the next few decades. That had an impact on helping get the empty historic facility some attention from local politicians and city agencies, as did the relentless activism of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

But now that we’re back where it all started, it needs much more media and political attention, like if the Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side suddenly went empty. No one wants another freakin 30 years of this (or even 5 or 10!). Let’s get it on the top of our elected officials’ priority list and make them focus on what the community wants and needs. —Jordan Moss

The state of the Kingsbridge Armory was covered by the non-profit Bronx community newspaper, the Norwood News,
from 1993 to 2013 and beyond.
Photo by Jordan Moss

We Need Local Civic Education in the Bronx and Beyond

3 Dec

12.3.18 — “One of the primary reasons our nation’s founders envisioned a vast public education system was to prepare youth to be active participants in our system of self-government. The responsibilities of each citizen were assumed to go far beyond casting a vote; protecting the common good would require developing students’ critical thinking and debate skills, along with strong civic virtues.” This is from a recent article at NEAtoday.org 

And Horace Mann, a famous public education advocate, stated something similar in the mid-1800s, according to an article in The New York Times the other day: He “wrote in 1847 that education’s purpose was to foster ‘conscientious jurors, true witnesses, incorruptible voters.'”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the above during, and since, the most recent local election for the New York State Senate. I volunteered in the campaign for State Senator-elect Alessandra Biaggi.  The level of civic awareness and activity was encouraging, invigorating, and inspiring. More people voted in a mid-term election (between the presidential races) than they had in about the last half a century.

But this will not continue if it’s just us over-50 folks that get more involved. There will be fewer and fewer of us as time goes on, so, yes, high school students will play a key role in our near future whether they are politically engaged or not. And maybe even us middle-agers won’t stay so focused in the near future. Trump got us to the polls (on both sides) but he ain’t gonna be around forever (thinking this is the only way I can stay sane).

So, to interest young people in getting involved and having an impact, what’s more important than high school students learning about what city and state governments do (and don’t do!) and what students can do to have an impact. Elected officials are only going to know what their young-adult constituents are concerned about if high school students connect with them.

So civic education is critical. I’m no expert on this but I’d be surprised if more than a few high schools in the Bronx, and beyond, focus on that. Even if they do, it’s probably rather brief.

There are some efforts to teach teens civics but the results aren’t promising. As NEA today reports: “Only 25 percent of U.S. students reach the “proficient” standard on the NAEP Civics Assessment.  White, wealthy students are four to six times as likely as Black and Hispanic students from low-income households to exceed that level. Here’s why: Students in wealthier public school districts are far more likely to receive high-quality civics education than students in low-income and majority-minority schools.”

Beyond learning who their elected officials are, high school students should learn about what they can do to act on their own concerns. How many students (and adults too) know that they can go to a NYC website to check out what their landlord isn’t fixing, what the level of crime is in their communities, where their local community board office is and how they can get involved. And they should also learn about local community organizations that may be working on issues they’re particularly concerned about.

Norman Wechsler, a Bronxite and former great principal of DeWitt Clinton High School (long before it was chopped up into several separate entities under the same roof) shared this thought with me: “It would be great if there were a requirement for students to actually meet all of their government representatives — at the city, state, federal level (Congressmen/women, Senators), to identify an important issue with which each is engaged, and to write a letter to each advocating for a matter important to them.”

That’s a great idea. Students could also work together on an issue they think is important in their own communities. That could lead them to connect with elected officials, attend community board meetings, and more.

Wechsler also says that there is “one required semester of Social Studies, usually in the 12th year, is P.I.G.- Participation in Government.” I wonder how much, if at all, that class focuses on local politics and community issues.

The lack of civics education is a problem nationwide, according to a recent Times article about how students in low-income communities learn almost nothing about government and politics, and that Rhode Island has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that that’s unconstitutional.

Above are just some thoughts and facts about the need for civic education. I’d love to know what you think, especially if you’re a student or a teacher. The State Senate, newly empowered with Democratic leadership is about to take office. It’s a perfect time to tell them what you think they should take on.

—Jordan Moss

4 Days to Go — Voters on THURSDAY, Sept. 13 Can Put an End to the IDC

9 Sep

You, or people you know,  may think the state’s IDC (Independent Democratic Conference) is done and gone. Yes, State Senator Jeff Klein, its founder and leader, no longer has the fancy office or leadership positions handed over by his GOP pals, who wouldn’t be leading the NY State Senate without his help. But Klein and other IDC political pals use IDC money for their campaigns even though they’re not supposed to. They’re still using money that was raised for the IDC. Take a look:

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So this has been reported before, but more voters should know that the IDC is indeed still functioning campaign-wise and it’s just one of the many ways Klein has used — and still uses —  the IDC to benefit his current campaign and those of his entire tawdry team.

According to an article in City & State, Risa Sugarman, chief enforcement office of the New York State Board of Elections, recently issued a letter arguing that, “in order to be in compliance with a June court ruling, members of the IDC must return hundreds of thousands of dollars that was funneled through a finance account to the members from the state’s Independence Party. Of the $2.5 million that the IDC raised in conjunction with the Independence Party, Sugarman pinpointed more than $1.4 million that needs to be refunded.”

Meanwhile, Alessandra Biaggi is getting incredible endorsements and grassroots from so many organizations, unions, and elected officials (including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has come to the Bronx to campaign for her several times). And all of that is great, but what’s even more critical to her campaign is your support financially and volunteer-wise. Just go to her website and do whatever you can! (Oh and here is the recent endorsement of The Daily News.)

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State Senate candidate Alessandra Biaggi, a real Democrat, at a forum for State Senate candidates, organized by the Northwest Bronx Community and Coalition last month. Klein didn’t show up. Photo by Jordan Moss

22 Days to Go: Biaggi Will Attend Bronx Town Hall Tonight for State Senate Candidates. Will Klein?

22 Aug

With only 3 weeks (+ a day) to go before the critical primary vote on Thurs., Sept. 13 for staten senator, in the 34th Senate District (and others all over the city), the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition is hosting a Town Hall tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Monroe College, 2501 Jerome Ave. (near Fordham Road) for Senate candidates interested in representing a few northwest Bronx districts. Alessandra Biaggi will be there. I heard that her opponent, incumbent Jeff Klein has not RSVP’d. Anyone interested in learning where candidates stand on many critical issues — health care, housing, schools, jobs, etc. — are welcome to attend.

Debate on Monday and 35 Days (Just 5 Weeks!) to Go Before Thurs., Sept. 13 Vote in Critical Bronx State Senate Race!

9 Aug

As I already reported, BronxTalk will air a critical debate between State Senator Jeff Klein (incumbent and IDC founder) and progressive, grassroots challenger Alessandra Biaggi on Monday, Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. . If you can, invite some friends and neighbors over, especially those who know little, and want to learn more, about the campaign. And spread the word about the debate to as many friends local voters as you possibly can! If you won’t be home that night you can always watch it on the web, beginning the next day. Of course, there’s a lot more to learn about Biaggi (and Klein) on her website and in my previous posts. Her site is also a great way to get involved and donate to her critical campaign (it affects the entire state!) .

Some other news:  Biaggi got an essential endorsement from the CWA (below) yesterday:

And in a recent tweet, Biaggi linked to a Gotham Gazette article focused on unanswered calls from Cuomo and legislative leaders for sexual harassment hearings. “The silence is alarming,” she wrote. “Albany needs to be better, now. I’ll fight everyday, and sound every alarm, until women are safe at work. This is not normal.”

Biaggi vs. Klein Debate on BronxTalk on Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. (39 Days to Go Before Election on Thurs., Sept. 13)

5 Aug

Just got word from BronxTalk’s veteran host Gary Axelbank that he’ll host a debate between Alessandra Biaggi and Jeff Klein, candidates for State Senate, a week from tomorrow: Monday, Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. It’s on Optimum channel 67 and Fios channel 33. Don’t have those? Well, go to a friend’s house that does have one and invite more friends!   It’s critically important because, as I’ve already written here and here, it’s a local race with impact throughout the Empire State. If you can’t watch it at that time, it’ll be on-line soon thereafter.

40 Days to Go — Klein Has a Lot More $$, but a Lot Less Contributors (Uh, Supporters) than Biaggi

4 Aug

As Cindy Lauper sang, “Money Changes Everything.”

Right? Well, in terms of local elections, particularly the ones this year, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Incumbent State Senator Jeff Klein, founder of the Independent Democratic Conference, which handed Senate power over to Republicans, raised $1.8 million for his campaign. Alessandra Biaggi, on the other hand, has raised only $314,000, according to the investigative website Sludge. So, sounds like she doesn’t have much of a chance to defeat Klein, right?

Well, no, because what matters even more than money in local politics is people, and Biaggi has gathered a lot of them. The number of  her contributors and volunteers outweigh Klein’s significantly. Sludge reports she already has 4,108 contributors. He has only 932. Meanwhile, for Biaggi, 400+ volunteers are on the streets, knocking on doors, making calls, sending post cards and more.

The average donations to Klein are $1,915 and come larger from company’s and PACs. Biaggi’s donation averages are $76. So, thanks to a big pile of corporate donors, his current cash count is over 25 times larger than hers. (You can check out his top corporate donors in a City Limits article by Jeanmarie Evelly, a great reporter I worked with at the Norwood News and Bronx News Network.)

For detailed reports of what each candidate in this race and all state races are raising, and from whom, just go to this contribution database on the  New York State Board of Elections site.  If it isn’t clear already from this and previous posts, you’ll learn from that database that I support Biaggi. Happily. (If you’d like to do the same, go here.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

 

Care About the Bronx and Beyond? Watch This Brief Video on How a Group of Fake ‘Democrats’ Has Handed the State Senate Over to Republicans and Learn What You Can Do.

19 Mar