Tag Archives: David Lewis

Virtual Appointment of New Bronx DA Without Significant Election Criticized

1 Oct

After almost 27 years as the Bronx’s district attorney, Robert Johnson retired, or maybe resigned is a better word, as he’s likely to acquire another impressive legal gig as judge.

Many people are pissed. Why? Because Johnson, DA for a quarter of a century, departed after primary election day in September. Therefore, his Bronx Democrat pals got to nominate a current judge, Darcel Clark, to essentially replace him without a November vote that matters. And those same Dems have effectively appointed Johnson to be a state Supreme Court justice. And since Primary day is long gone, potential Democratic challengers have literally been dismissed. As for Republicans, there hasn’t been a GOP elected official in the Bronx since State Senator Guy Velella resigned in 2004 (following his corruption conviction).

The Riverdale Press covers the story. It also shares its outrage and profiles Johnson’s likely replacement. And today, in the Times, former Riverdale Press editor Kate Pastor covers Clark’s visit to the Benjamin Franklin Democratic Reform Club on West 231st Street in Kingsbridge. Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, who is the chair (a second position actually) of the Bronx Democratic County Committee, had this to say about the election in Pastor’s article:

“The power that was allegedly taken away from the voters was gone already, because nobody chose to run against him,” Dinowitz said.

True, but 27-year incumbent DAs, particularly in Johnson’s case, rarely get much of a challenge, if any at all. Open seats do. Johnson sat on his seat until he got a new job.

What Johnson said about leaving his veteran position was in the New York Times right after the Democratic convention:

“Don’t resign a job without a job,” he said was often his advice to friends. “If I had resigned before this convention tonight, I would not have a job. I think that after 40 years of public service that I deserve to be able to continue to serve the community.”

If you’re interested in this, as all Bronxites should be, WNYC’s metro editor (and Bronxite) David Lewis, along with NY1’s “Inside City Hall” host (and Daily News columnist) Errol Louis — both veteran reporters — take a well-educated whack at what are essentially Bronx Democrats’ actions that ain’t so democratic.


A Harlem River for the Bronx?

15 Jun

Friends of Brook Park members canoe in the Bronx Kill. Photo by Dirk Ewers.

The Harlem River, which borders the Bronx’s south and west sides, is not really a recreational resource for Bronxites. But just like in the borough on the other side of the river (Manhattan) it can be. There are major difficulties — the presence of industry and factories, and a 99-year-old lease granted long ago for a chunk of waterfront land, and the lack of city elites’ obsession with Bronx waterfront space, unlike similar efforts in Manhattan (see Highline) — but they are not insurmountable.

Haven on the Harlem, a special project of the Mott Haven Herald and the NYCity NewsService, both of which are published by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, digs deep and wide all along the river, interviewing officials, activists, residents and landlords, coming up with  articles (as well as on-line videos and interactive maps) detailing the state and potential fate of the waterfront and the river itself.

This project was led by by Bronxite David Lewis, the veteran journalist and CUNY professor, and produced by his students.

Haven on the Harlem, and all the other work associated with the the NewsService and the Herald, as well as its sister publication the Hunts Point Express, are really models for the kind of public service that academic journalism projects can provide.