Tag Archives: Tom Robbins

City Limits Highlights 40 Years of Critical Reporting

3 Feb

City Limits is 40 years old this year. For most of its life thus far it was a hand-held magazine, but for a couple of years now it’s been a website with the same critical coverage of urban policies that affect all New Yorkers and their neighborhoods.

Celebrating its impressive anniversary (how many nonprofit publications are around for four decades?) City Limits highlights a story from each of those 40 years (including my piece -part of a series produced by Tom Robbins and his excellent students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism – about a boy’s death following a fire in a disastrous Bronx building long-ignored by its landlord.)

What City Limits also has up and running are essays by many of its former editors including Robbins, Alyssa Katz and Doug Turetsky. (Bronx and Norwood neighborhood resident Jarrett Murphy is the current editor who made this whole lookback happen.)

Take a read and pass it on. It’s good for everyone to know more about where we were and focus on what policies still need focus and change.



Schlein May Cash In with No Money Down on No-Bid Project

25 Aug

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.

Tom Robbins & Jordan Moss Discuss City Limits ‘Phantom Landlord’ Investigation on BronxTalk

25 Apr

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.

—Jordan Moss

How Can Future Palazzolos Be Stopped? City Limits Investigation Subject of Lehrer Show This Morning

30 Mar

The City Limits investigation into “Phantom Landlord” Frank Palazzolo is the subject of the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC this morning at 10 a.m. (93.9 FM and 820 AM). As I’ve previously written on Bronx Matters, this investigation began in 2002 when 8-year-old Jashawn Parker died in a building fire on DeKalb Avenue in Norwood. While the Norwood News (where I was editor) covered that and many related stories for almost 2 years back then, we only scratched the surface of Palazzolo’s impact on almost 100 buildings throughout the borough, not to mention his stifling of Bronx housing organizing via a lawsuit. I always kept the files on my shelf hoping that we’d have the time and staff to get back to it. Fast forward to last fall when Tom Robbins, his students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and I embarked on the City Limits investigation. Tune in if you can. These are critical issues affecting hundreds of thousands of Bronxites who rent apartments, not to mention the rest of the city. If you have thoughts, questions, or concerns about your own building, please comment here. Thanks.

UPDATE: Here’s the link for the segment.

-Jordan Moss

Link to Inside City Hall Segment on Palazzolo Investigation

24 Mar

Errol Louis, host of Inside City Hall, interviewed Tom Robbins, former CUNY J-School students Tamy Cozier and Paul DeBenedetto, and former HPD official Harold Shultz, about the City Limits investigation of Frank Palazzolo’s real estate operation. It’s short and informative. Take a look.

An Investigation on My Mind Since 2002 — Now in Print

14 Mar

In 2002, 8-year-old Jashawn Parker died in an electrical fire at  3569 DeKalb Ave. His older brother was badly burned. I, and a stellar intern named William Wichert, spent more than a year at the Norwood News looking into the dealings of a Westchester real estate operator connected to the building, Frank Palazzolo, who considered himself a “lender” rather than a landlord. We ran a lot of in-depth articles and hard-hitting editorials on Palazzolo and his associates. But there was so much going on in dozens of buildings linked to them that we only scratched the surface of what was really going on.

Last summer, nine years after the deadly fire, Tom Robbins, the great investigative reporter who is now teaching his trade at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, put out the word that he was looking for a project that his students could tackle. I pulled out a foot-high pile of documents that I kept on a shelf next to my desk, hoping to some day get back to them, and shared them with Tom. He decided to take it on and I worked with his class over the last several months on the project. The students, who spread out across the Bronx and Westchester, and buried themselves in court documents and property records, did a tremendous job reporting. The project would not have been possible without their hard work. I learned a lot myself from working with them and Tom.

There are several articles in this package, published by the great urban policy magazine City Limits, so it’s no small amount of reading. But I promise you this: It’s a great read and if you delve in, you will learn a tremendous amount about how the worst landlords often manage to get away with neglect that endangers the health and safety of tenants. Despite all the rules and regulations on the books, landlords that wish to ignore them are given an incredibly long leash by the banks that finance them, the Housing Court judges that have the power to appoint outside administrators but rarely do, and a housing code enforcement system that needs much more stringent tools than it currently has in its possession.

I’m grateful to Tom Robbins for giving this story new life, welcoming me into his class, and teaching me so much more than I knew about investigative reporting. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, Jarrett Murphy, the editor of City Limits, for believing in this project and doing a phenomenal job of editing it and asking us all the right questions along the way. It also would not have been possible if it were not for the vision of Sarah Bartlett, the director of the urban reporting program at the CUNY J-School. She created the investigative program and has been a great colleague to work with on this and other journalism projects close to my heart.

When you read the story in City Limits, I’d love to know what you think. Looking forward to the discussion.

—Jordan Moss