Tag Archives: Norwood News

42 Days to Go — Taking Down Members of Bronx-Born IDC (Independent Democratic Conference)

2 Aug

8.2.18 – I wrote about Bronx politics and critical local issues for almost 20 years, when I was reporter and editor of the Norwood News (in Community Board 7) and the Bronx News Network. One thing I rarely witnessed were Democratic incumbents (all were Dems except for Guy Velella during my tenure) facing primary challengers with a good shot of winning. During my time on the job, except when corrupt incumbents were defeated or stepped down (State Senator Pedro Espada, Councilman Pedro G. Espada, State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Councilman Larry Seabrook, Nelso Castro, Eric Stevenson, Israel Ruiz, etc., etc.) few if any vets of the City Council, state Assembly, or state Senate, faced significant challengers.

But times have changed. If there’s one thing to be grateful to Trump and his seemingly corrupt victory for, it is this: excellent and energized freshmen progressive candidates are taking it to the streets along with big teams of dedicated volunteers. They are acting on the fact that state and local elections are as – and even more in many cases – critical to democracy and local issues as presidential elections. What happens – or doesn’t happen – locally has a dramatic impact on national politics as well. Even big-shot former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.”

And it is not just local in terms of issues affecting Bronx residents and neighborhoods, but residents and towns of the entire Empire State.

And that’s because of the IDC, a team of eight “Democrats” who sided with Republicans in the State Senate, handed over all of the real power of Democrats to the GOP. That’s blocked every essential bill on critical issues like voting rights, school funding, a Health Care Act, and the DREAM Act from passing in the State Senate and joining forces with the Assembly, vastly controlled by Democrats.

State Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, formed the IDC in 2011. It wouldn’t have existed without him. (Technically, it no longer exists since Cuomo made them shut it down earlier this year, but Klein and his team are being told to pay $1.4  million they received from the Independence Party. Like almost all other IDC incumbents, Klein faces a strong challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, who already has 400 volunteers on her team taking it to the streets, knocking on doors, phone banking, writing post cards, contributing whatever they can. Here’s her recent video.

Bronx Democrats (including me) have moaned and groaned for years that our votes don’t  count for much, particularly in presidential elections. But this is a Democratic primary with epic issues (local, state and national) at stake. Your vote – and participation – matters. Big time.

So learn more and volunteer for Biaggi (or any of the other challengers to IDC incumbents ) right now! There are only six weeks to go! The primary is on Thursday (yes, Thursday!) September 13.

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the IDC, check out this excellent, brief video Zephyr Teachout did last year.

 

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Arts and (Photo)Graphs: My Opening at An Beal Bocht

28 Jun

Hey Bronx (and Beyond) Pals: My art and photo exhibit –  at An Beal Bocht (cool, artsy Irish pub/cafe in Riverdale/Bronx) opens on July 6, next Wednesday, beginning at 6 p.m. It’s at 445 W. 238th St. in Riverdale, a short (if somewhat steep) walk from the 238th St. 1-train station. An Beal Bocht will provide some food. They’d just like you to shell out a little dough to buy some booze or whatever else (water, juice, soda, whatever) you’d like to take a swig of. Don’t worry if you come later – even a lot later – than that. I’m figuring it will go on until at least 10 p.m., or probably beyond that when the last one of us heads out the door. Here are a couple of photos of what I’ll be showing.

One of my abstract paintings, collage, whatever you wanna call it:

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One of my photos … (Guess where and when? 😉

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OK, hope you can make it, but if you can’t the exhibit will continue through the month of July. Thanks! If you have any questions, just email me at bronxmatters@gmail.com.

Kingsbridge Armory Re-Do Update

20 Jan

 

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The Kingsbridge Armory on Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx. Photo by Jordan Moss.

In the latest Kingsbridge Armory status update, the Norwood News recently reported that the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) will receive a $30 million loan from Empire State Development for its first redevelopment phase of the massive landmark facility. The Armory will become the largest ice-skating center in the world, with nine rinks. Completing the initial phase of work is scheduled for April 2017. That’s more than 20 years after initial debates and activism were launched to plan the armory’s future.

Spread the Word on Bronx Youth Heard!

13 Jan

A bunch of years ago at the Norwood News (and the now-defunct Bronx News Network)  I, and James Fergusson, launched Bronx Youth Heard, a free after-school journalism program for Bronx teens that takes place at Hostos Community College. I’m thrilled that David Cruz & Co. at the Norwood News are still making it happen. Bronx Youth Heard is an actual newspaper that’s published along with the Norwood News.

The application for the next session is due on Jan. 22. Click here for all the info. And spread the word to all the Bronx teens, teachers, and parents you know. There’s no other program and newspaper like this in the entire Bronx — and probably the entire city!

 

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.

Brooklyn Landlords on ‘Worst’ List Buy 6 Bronx Buildings

16 Oct

This is news from two months ago in Real Deal, but news to Bronx Matters nonetheless. Two Brooklyn landlords, Yechel Weinberger and Bernard Miller, who are currently on the NYC Landlord Watch List (100 worst landlords in the city) have connected to purchase six apartment buildings in the northwest Bronx (three of them in Norwood), a 364-unit portfolio.

Bronx Matters Returns!

19 May

This Bronx-focused blog is back-at-it! More details here.

NYPD Still Hiding Neighborhood Crime Data

23 May

The previous post on that New York World stop-and-frisk map got me thinking once again about how critical it is for the NYPD to release crime data for neighborhoods rather than just precincts, which is what the weekly CompStat reports cover. Precincts have populations as large as many cities (for example there are about 150,000 people in the 52nd Precinct). The NYPD understands very well that precinct stats alone are not that not helpful in determining where particular categories of crime listed in the CompStat reports are the most prevalent. That’s why they generate more targeted data, called sector stats, for at least a dozen areas within every precinct in the city.

The NYPD rarely makes this data available. At the Norwood News, where I was editor until last September, we once got it from the 52nd Precinct commander, but NYPD brass prevented him and future commanders from sharing it again. So the last time we got it we waited more than a year for the agency to fulfill our Freedom of Information Law request and they complied only after an NBC-TV report (video) highlighted our editorial campaign to get them to release the data.

The data is critical simply because people have the right to know whether they are safe in their own neighborhoods. Precinct-wide data is not helpful in that regard. Crime may be down precinct-wide but it could be up significantly in a sector (which may be one reason the NYPD is locking down the info). New Yorkers should be able to easily find out where crime is going down and where it’s going up.

And they should have easy access to data that indicates what crimes are on the upswing. Lots of car thefts in the area? A spike in rapes? An uptick in assaults? Knowing this info would help residents ensure their own safety and also be on the lookout for crimes in progress. How can more eyes and ears on the streets not be useful to the NYPD?

Last year, motivated by the Norwood News’ reporting, Council Member Fernando Cabrera introduced legislation that would require the NYPD to release the sector stat data on a regular basis. It’s still in committee and we have a call into Cabrera’s office to find out more about its status. We’ll let you know where it’s at soon. In the meantime, take a look at the bill:

It’s not complicated. The NYPD collects this data on the taxpayer dime, yet keeps it hidden from public view. The legislation above would fix that. We hope to see action on it soon.

—Jordan Moss