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Bronx Stars of Tomorrow: Q&A with “Son of No One” Actor and Co-op City Resident Brian Gilbert

December 2, 2011

By Emily Piccone

Young Bronx actor Brian Gilbert

The Bronx has born another actor, this time hailing from Co-op City. Brian Gilbert, 15, has a passion for acting that started at the age of 9. That passion is sprouting into a career as Gilbert made his silver screen debut in “The Son of No One,” starring Al Pacino, also a Bronx native. Gilbert sat down with us to discuss how he got started, his favorite Bronx spot, and playing a young Jim Jones in the rapper’s debut play. 

This is the first in a series focusing on exemplary Bronx youth. If you know of a young person in the borough you think deserves recognition or you are that young person, send us an e-mail at norwoodnews@norwoodnews.org.

The character that you play in “A Son of No One,” Vinnie Carter, seems like a troubled boy with a lot of problems, was it a difficult role to get into?

This is what I had been waiting for. I was so hungry and intent on playing him that I just turned myself into a different person. When the director said “cut,” I was still in it, but me and Vinnie are nothing alike. I like to help my friends out, and that’s how we’re alike, but I don’t get sexually abused and I don’t live in the projects. I’m not in the mindset of looking over my shoulder and the paranoia that’s he’s in.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I used to watch the “behind the scenes” [features] on DVDs, I remember wanting to be a part of the whole process; I loved it. I started acting when I was 6 and I was in “Madea” when I was 9 at the Classical Theater of Harlem. I enjoy doing film and television more than plays. In film, it’s more realistic.

What actors do you look up to?

Robert Downey Jr., Joe Pesci, Adam Sandler, Al Pacino. As soon as Will Smith comes out with another film I’ll be a fan of him again. Read more

A Bronx Neighborhood Loses Its Pizza Man, But Not His Pizza

December 2, 2011

By Alex Kratz

Sal Calces, former owner of Sal’s Pizza and Restaurant on Bainbridge Avenue, is retiring after 31 years, but the restaurant and its employees will remain. (Photo by Alex Kratz)

It’s a typical Monday night inside Sal’s Pizza and Restaurant, Norwood’s oldest and most popular Italian joint. Hurried locals drop in for a quick slice. Friends pick up take-out. A family stops for a sit-down meal. And there’s Sal Calces, the gregarious, omnipresent owner of his namesake eatery since 1980.

Always affectionate, Sal’s laying it on thick tonight. He wants to give you a big smile and a hug and maybe a kiss on the cheek. After 31 years of tomato sauce, sweat and tears, he’s leaving, he tells you. But it’s going to be okay, he reassures. That’s just how life works. He shrugs and says with a thick southern Italian accent hardly dented after 43 years in the Bronx: “Everything come to an end.”

By the time you read this, Sal will be gone; retired at age 62, spending time in the east Bronx with his ailing wife, two kids and four grandchildren. But his life’s work — the restaurant, his pizza, his spirit — will still be on Bainbridge Avenue, between East 205th and 206th streets. Aside from adding a delivery option, the new owner, Musa Nesheiwat, a Jordanian man who grew up eating Sal’s pizza, says he won’t change a thing.

Still, Sal’s without Sal will take some getting used to.

A woman lured Sal to the Bronx in 1968. The oldest of seven siblings, Alfonso “Sal” Calces was working on his family’s small farm in Sarno, Italy, a mid-sized town of about 65,000 people close to Naples. His wife, Lina, had moved to the Bronx earlier that year to live with her sister and her sister’s husband, an American citizen. On Christmas Eve, Sal arrived in the United States. The plan wasn’t necessarily to stay forever, but that’s how it worked out. Read more

Norwood News Photographer Showing Work Downtown; Opening Reception Tonight

December 1, 2011

By Alex Kratz

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Starting tonight, Norwood resident and frequent Norwood News contributor Adi Talwar will be showing a selection of his photos for an exhibition at Illuminated Metropolis Gallery in Chelsea, 547 W. 27th St., Suite 529 (between 10th and 11th avenues). There will be an opening reception tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. Talwar says he will be showing 15 photos, most of them neighborhood shots from the northwest Bronx (like the one above from this year’s Jerome-Gun Hill BID Street Festival) that you may have seen in the Norwood News print edition or online. A smaller portion will be more abstract compositions (see below) that Talwar developed at his apartment near the Williamsbridge Oval. So if you’re free tonight, head to Chelsea and support a local artist. And if you’re not free tonight, you can head down to the gallery any time between now and the end of December when the exhibition ends.
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Father of Slain Bronx HS Athlete Indicted

December 1, 2011

By Emily Piccone

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson announced last week that Andre Muller has been indicted on charges of assault and illegal possession of a weapon in connection to a deadly altercation that occurred this June in Bedford Park that resulted in the death of the defendant’s son, Isayah Muller, a high school football star.

Muller was indicted on two felony counts of assault in the 2nd degree, punishable by a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison if convicted, and one misdemeanor count of criminal possession of a weapon.

The incident occurred after Muller and his son were returning from a dinner at City Island in celebration of the son’s graduation from Lehman College that day. Muller discovered that a bottle of expensive cologne was missing from his car, and drove back to the parking garage on East 198th and Jerome Avenue to confront the attendants that were on duty. The confrontation quickly escalated into a brawl between the attendants and Muller. Read more

Oval Shooting Victim Charged in Gun Hill Road Stickup

December 1, 2011

By By David Greene

A teen who was shot last week on Tryon Avenue near Williamsbridge Oval Park was arrested for armed robbery of an East Gun Hill Road nail salon that same day, according to a police source.

Police were called to 3400 Tryon Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 19 around 6 p.m., where a 16-year-old male claimed he had been shot on the street, and had bullet wounds to his arm and leg. He was transported to St. Barnabas Hospital for treatment.

A ranking NYPD source, however, says the boy’s story was bogus from the start.

“The victim lied from the very beginning,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The boy told officers he was shot on the street by an unknown assailant, and even provided them with a fake name. Read more

Kingsbridge Armory at Center of Citywide Living Wage Debate

December 1, 2011

By Jeanmarie Evelly

Living wage supporters packed Harlem’s Riverside Church for a rally last week, the night before the City Council’s hearing on the bill. (Photo by Jeanmarie Evelly)

Born out of an argument fought two years ago over a proposed shopping mall at the Kingsbridge Armory, a fierce battle over legislation setting wage requirements at some publicly subsidized developments has come to a head this month.

In an exhaustive hearing last week, the council spent nearly five hours debating the details of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, proposed last year by two Bronx Council members at the behest of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. Both opponents and supporters of the bill testified their cases to Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who largely controls the fate of the legislation — though the two sides, ultimately, found little grounds for an agreement.

“Some of the concerns expressed by some of the so-called opponents were greatly exaggerated,” said Councilman Oliver Koppell, who sponsored the bill with colleague Annabel Palma. “We have to review what we have, and perhaps make some small adjustments, but the overall bill is sound.” Read more

For 2nd Straight Year, Bronx’s Clinton Falls to Lincoln in HS Football Playoffs

December 1, 2011

By Ronald Chavez


[Photos by Francesca Andre for Norwood News]

So close and yet so far away.

For the second year in a row, the DeWitt Clinton varsity football team’s season ended with a resounding loss to Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School.

Last year, the Governors lost to the Railsplitters in the second round of the playoffs. This year Clinton came into their semifinal playoff matchup — the school’s first trip to the semis in more than two decades — riding a five-game winning streak. But the result, a resounding 30-14 loss, was similarly disappointing.

The loss was marked by an early injury to star player Ashton McKenzie in the first quarter after a player fell on his left ankle. McKenzie is the team’s kicker, linebacker and fullback. He tried to return to the game at the start of the second half, but couldn’t play through the injury.

“Losing him that early really put us in a whole. It made it tough for us to come back. We tried though,” Coach Howard Langley told the Daily News. He called the injury a high ankle sprain.

Lincoln played Quarterback Ryan Camilo tough, sacking him seven times, according to the New York Post.

Lincoln’s Railsplitters will move on to face Erasmus at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 6.

Tales from the Occupy Protests: Yankee Stadium

November 30, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

Ed. note: On Nov. 17, we sent two reporters out to cover the Occupy the Subway protests in the Bronx. This is the story of the rally at Yankee Stadium. A version of this story appears in this week’s print edition of the Norwood News, which is being distributed throughout the northwest Bronx over the next two days.

For Bronx Occupy Wall Street activists, perhaps no meet-up location was more apt than in the shadow of the new Yankee Stadium. The dozen or so protesters that had assembled beside the McDonalds on 161 Street and River Avenue said that despite city involvement in the project, the community has yet to see the benefits of the new billion-dollar ballpark.

This was the Bronx leg of a 16 location, citywide “Occupy the Subways” protest, which would culminate downtown at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan.

The activists were among thousands taking up the battle against economic inequality on Occupy Wall Street’s National Day of Action, a day to celebrate the two-month anniversary of activists first taking up residence in Zuccotti Park. (Protesters were evicted two days before the mass protests.)

The stadium protest stood in a sharp contrast from the rest of the movement, and even from events earlier that morning. There were barely any cops and none in riot gear. And there were no bushy-haired youths clashing with charcoal suits.

Instead, there was longtime activist and Highbridge resident Agnes Johnson, a Hispanic mom and her young boy, members of the New York Civil Participation Project and Living Wage NYC Campaign workers (see front page story). Read more

Tales from the Occupy Protests: Fordham Road

November 30, 2011

By Emily Piccone

Ed. note: On Nov. 17, we sent two reporters out to cover the Occupy the Subway protests in the Bronx. This is the story of the rally at Fordham Road. A version of this story appears in this week’s print edition of the Norwood News, which is being distributed throughout the northwest Bronx over the next two days.

At the intersection of Grand Concourse and Fordham Road two weeks ago, about two dozen people showing their support and affiliation with the Occupy Wall Street movement were joined by Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera.

“Six months ago, we were not having the conversations that we are having today about economic inequality,” said Rivera before protesters heading downtown to join thousands of others at Foley Square, the final gathering for the Occupy movement’s National Day of Action.

In a movement that began on the opposite end of the city, protesters are sprouting up in the Bronx, where residents represent a highly concentrated slice of the marginalized so-called, “99 percent.”

“The 99 percent live in the Bronx,” said Rivera. “They are the people that I represent.”

The group was an even mix of men and women of different ages and ethnicities. Read more

Local News & Links

November 30, 2011

Happy Wednesday, readers! The latest print issue of the Norwood News is hitting the streets today, and it’s chock full of good stuff: an update on the living wage debate,  a look at the end of Clinton’s football season, a farewell to Sal of Sal’s Pizza fame (he’s retiring this week) and more. Pick up a copy today, but until then, here are some other noteworthy news stories to keep you in-the-know.

The latest twist in Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook’s corruption trial: his former mistress, and the prosecution’s star witness, says she has early onset dementia. This is after she testified that she couldn’t remember if she gave the councilman a cut of the money she received running the three nonprofits he put her in charge of. Seabrook is accused of funneling public funds to groups where he employed his family and friends.

Read more

Tax Workshop for Bronx Small Businesses

November 29, 2011

The end of the year is fast approaching, and with that comes what many dread: tax season. That’s why the Bronx Small Businesses Development Center is having a tax workshop geared towards helping small businesses handle their taxes. It’s tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at CUNY on the Concourse, 2501 Grand Concourse on the third floor.

The workshop will cover topics like minimizing your taxes, tax credits for small businesses, and employer health care deductions.

For more information, call 718-960-8806. Those planning to attend can RSVP here.

Bronx Community College Unveils “Transformation” Mural

November 28, 2011

By Emily Piccone

BCC artists stand in front of their digitized mural, "Transformation," they created to beautify a construction wall on campus.

The Bronx Community College has unveiled a new student-driven mural on its campus, called “Transformation.” It’s located on the temporary construction fence adjacent to the college’s Language Hall.

The collaborating group of current students and alumni sketched a design incorporating iconic Bronx landmarks such as the Bronx  Zoo and Yankee Stadium. From the sketches, they digitized the design using Photoshop. The mural, designed by six different artists over a period of eight months,  showcases the talents of the digital art department at BCC.

“The mural was a labor of love donated by the students of the Digital Arts Program at BCC as a way of celebrating their own transformation, and as a gift to future students who will follow in their footsteps,” said Lisa Amowitz, deputy chair of the Department of Art and Music.

The mural, which is 64 feet long and 4 feet 6 inches tall, is a colorful decoy for the campus as it undergoes major infrastructure improvements.

Thanksgiving Recipes from The Norwood News’ Be Healthy! Section

November 23, 2011

There’s no doubt the turkey is the inevitable star of the Thanksgiving spread. But if you want to boost the health quotient of your holiday meal, let your vegetable side dishes share some of that spotlight.

This year, cut out at least one traditional high-calorie standby—buttery rolls, or those marshmallow-coated yams—and opt for a few of these simpler sides instead.

Sweet Boiled Beets
Use a pound or two of fresh beets. Wash and trim off stalks—the green, leafy bits at the top—but put them aside for later. Cut the beets themselves into quarters and peel off the rough outer skin. You can wear latex gloves if you want to avoid staining your hands. Place beets in a medium to large saucepan, and pour in a cup or two of orange juice, enough to cover the beets by at least an inch. If you can find blood orange juice—the regular orange’s crimson-colored sister—that’s even better, but regular Tropicana juice will do, too. Boil the beets in the juice for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on their size, or cook until they’re tender enough to be easily sliced with a fork. Drain from the juice and serve.
Bonus: Beet greens—the stalks you trim off the top—are edible, and delicious. Simply sauté them in oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until tender. That’s two dishes for the price of one.

Roasted Carrots with Cumin Seed
Take one or two pounds of full-sized carrots, peel them and slice into sticks. Spread the carrot sticks on a baking sheet and drizzle with two or three tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with two teaspoons of cumin seed, and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees until brown and tender; about 25 to 30 minutes.

Honey-Roasted Squash
Use as many acorn squash as you’re looking to serve. Each squash will be halved, and one squash will make two servings. With a sharp knife, slice each squash in half, lengthwise, from stem to stem. Use a spoon to scoop out the seedy, stringy gunk in the center, so that each half looks like a little bowl. Place pieces in a baking pan with the centers facing up (in other words, skin side down). With a knife, score the squash, making shallow slices along the surface of each piece. Sprinkle with salt, then add a small pat of butter to the center each half.

Drizzle squash pieces with honey. Before baking, add a cup of water to the pan for some moisture, then cover with foil, leaving a few gaps here and there so steam can escape. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until squash is soft.

Spicy Green Beans with Garlic
Use one pound of fresh green beans, washed and with their edges trimmed.  Briefly cook the beans in a pot of boiling water, for no longer than three minutes—they’ll turn bright green, and should be slightly tender, but still crisp. Remove from boiling water and plunge beans into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat two teaspoons of olive oil. Add the green beans, and stir for a minute or two. Add two cloves of chopped garlic and half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like things spicy!) and cook for another few minutes, until beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Bronx Sports Roundup: Clinton Gears Up for Semis, Fordham Fires Head Football Coach and More

November 23, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

Thanksgiving and sports go together like mash potatoes and gravy. So, with turkey day on the horizon, we thought we’d offered a brief local sports roundup to get you caught up on all the latest action.

Clinton Football Thriving as Underdog
So far for the DeWitt Clinton High School football team the PSAL playoffs have been a Governor’s ball. The seventh-seeded Governors upset fourth-seeded Fort Hamilton last week and will face undefeated and top-ranked Lincoln High School in the semifinals. The Railsplitters bounced Clinton from the playoffs last year by a score of 32-6. The game is set to start at noon on Saturday, Nov. 26 at Lincoln’s home field in Brooklyn.

It’s the farthest Clinton has ever made it in the playoffs and Coach Howard Langley says, in preparation, he’s making his team sweat the details. Langley says he’s been looking at tape from last year’s game against Lincoln to, “try to find a crack in their system.”

Clinton’s offense received a boost this year after Quarterback Ryan Camilo transferred from Cardinal Hayes, according to the New York Post. Another major contributor of the Governors has been Jeremiah Obeng-Agyapong, who’s brother, who graduated from Kennedy High, now plays for Penn St.

Langley also said Clinton’s underdog status is used as an advantage. “When you’re the underdog, you don’t have anything to lose,” he said. “Kids play without fear.” Read more

Bronx Thanksgiving Events

November 23, 2011

By Jeanmarie Evelly

Happy Thanksgiving, readers!

The community has been getting in the holiday spirit of late. Yesterday, the Fordham Road Business Improvement District, nonprofit healthcare provider Healthplus and Councilman Joel Rivera’s office donated turkeys (see photo at left) to Part of the Solution (POTS), the Webster Avenue organization that runs a food pantry and other services for low-income residents (for more on POTS and the work they do, see here).

On Friday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., gave out 100 free turkeys at the corner of East 180th Street and Southern Boulevard (see photo below) and has been holding similar giveaways this week.

Courtesy Borough President's Office

See the list below for local groups and churches that are offering free Thanksgiving meals tomorrow for those in need. If you know of any other programs we should add, let us know at norwoodnews@norwoodnews.org.

  • Owen Dolen Recreational Center 2551 Westchester Ave. Thanksgiving meals from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. (718) 829-0156.
  • St. James Recreational Center, 2530 Jerome Ave. (at E. 192nd Street).Thanksgiving meals from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.(718) 367-3657.
  • POTS at Our Lady of Refuge Church, Thanksgiving meals starting at 12 noon, 290 East 196th St. (718) 220-4892

Norwood Teen Latest Victim of Bronx Gun Violence

November 22, 2011

By David Greene

A 16-year old was shot two times inside of 3400 Tryon Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 19. (Photo by David Greene)

A Norwood teen is recovering after being shot two times outside of an apartment he shared near Williamsbridge Oval Park on Tryon Avenue.

According to EMS records, the unidentified 16-year old male was shot in the arm and leg on the second floor of 3400 Tryon Ave., at just before 6 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 19. The victim was transported to St. Barnabas Hospital and was expected to survive.

According to witnesses, a dispute began when two groups of men had a dispute inside the apartment that spilled out into the hallway, where the victim was shot. Residents reported hearing four gunshots and witnessing four individuals taken into police custody from the scene.

Residents say that despite being in a wheelchair, the still-unidentified 25-year-old tenant of the apartment has been in trouble since moving into the there back in January, allegedly throwing partys with as many as 100 guests in the 1-bedroom apartment.

One neighbor cried, “I hope he didn’t die!” When told the teen would recover, she responded, “That’s great. Maybe he just needs some therapy. These kids these days.”

The neighbor, who declined to be identified, said of the young man, “He’s in a wheelchair because of his criminal past.”

A second neighbor called the young handicapped man, “trouble,” adding, “They throw party’s with 100 people in the apartment.”

Resident’s also have been complaining of the stink of marijuana smoke, music blasting until the break of dawn and visitors at all hours of the day and night.

The neighbor recalled a police raid shortly after the young man moved in. “The police took out bags and bags of pot,” he said. “They had a plantation in there.”

A third resident of the building confirmed police have visited the apartment three to four times in a single night.

Calls to the building’s landlord at E.N.M. Associates was not immediately returned. This publication will reach out to both the NYPD and the Bronx District Attorney’s office regarding the accusations made by residents.

Live From Council Living Wage Hearing

November 22, 2011

Norwood News reporter Jeanmarie Evelly is Tweeting live from the City Council’s contentious hearing on legislation that would require businesses to pay living wages ($10 an hour plus benefits) to workers if their development deal include significant government tax breaks and subsidies. We’ll capture all the action here.

Living Wage Supporters Rally; City Council Hearing Today

November 22, 2011

Living wage supporters packed the pews at Harlem's Riverside Church at last night. (Jeanmarie Evelly)

Backers of a controversial living wage bill that’s scheduled for a debate in the City Council this afternoon held a spirited rally last night at Harlem’s Riverside Church, where elected officials, union workers and  leaders from faith institutions across the city demanded action on the legislation, which has been lingering in the Council for over a year.

Supporters of the bill–which would require development projects that receive substantial taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without–packed the pews of the enormous church, the rally lasting over two hours. Speakers likened the living wage campaign to other movements raging across the country and elsewhere, reiterating a sentiment of disillusionment with those in charge and frustration over the widening wealth gap.

“This struggle is part of a worldwide struggle, from Egypt to Tunisia, from Wisconsin to Occupy Wall Street–the struggle for economic justice,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

A slew of Bronx elected officials and faith leaders attended the event and were among the first speakers to head off the rally. The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act was sponsored by two Bronx City Council members, and its introduction is rooted in a political battle over wages at the Kingsbridge Armory two years ago, which several alluded to last night.

“We rescued our community from what would have become a poverty wage center,” said Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, who heads the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance and led the fight to kill a mall project there–a project pushed by Mayor Bloomberg–because the developer, Related Companies, refused to agree to a living wage mandate in exchange for the taxpayer subsidies it was set to receive.

“Let’s be very clear: it was Bloomberg who killed those jobs,” Pilgrim-Hunter said. “We’re facing off with Bloomberg again, but this time we have a citywide coalition.”

Today’s City Council hearing will focus on changes made to the legislation recently by its sponsors, who essentially watered down the proposal after opponents–the city’s business community and Mayor Bloomberg, for starters–claimed mandated wages would stifle development and kills jobs.

The future of the bill is in the hands of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who can kill it by refusing to bring it up for a vote on the council floor. She’s yet to take a stance on the issue.

We’ll be covering today’s hearing, which starts at 1 p.m., and will be tweeting updates from our twitter account @NorwoodNews, so stay tuned!

One of Bronx’s Original ‘Green’ Building Programs on Chopping Block

November 22, 2011

By Emily Piccone

In her 10th floor apartment in Keith Tower on Southern Boulevard, Marge Marcone wipes her hand across the long windowsill in her living room, and is still amazed by the lack of dust.

It has been more than a year since a local community organization installed all new windows in her apartment for free — a major improvement from her old, faulty windows.

“Those huge windows were monsters for me, they were very difficult to open, but air still got in,” Marcone said. “My window sills would be filthy, even on the 10th floor.”

Created to help low income residents of ailing buildings in the early 1980s, the Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition’s Weatherization Assistance Program was one of city’s first “green” building programs. It received a burst in funding from the economic stimulus package in 2009, allowing it to install new energy-saving boilers, lights, appliances and windows for tenants like Marcone and countless others.

But with funding set to expire in December, the program could be forced to downsize on all sides. Read more

Living Wage Hearing Scheduled for Tomorrow

November 21, 2011

By Jeanmarie Evelly

Parties on both sides of the contentious living wage debate are gearing up for another fight tomorrow, as the City Council is scheduled to hold its second hearing on the bill–this time to consider recent revisions made to the legislation to appease critics and make it more business-friendly.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, sponsored by two Bronx City Council members and inspired by a political battle over wages at the Kingsbridge Armory two years ago, would require developers receiving substantial taxpayer-funded subsidies to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without.

The bill’s backers made a number of changes to the legislation last month, essentially watering down the proposal after opponents–the city’s business community and Mayor Bloomberg, for starters–claimed the mandated wages would stifle development and kills jobs.

In the newly amended version, only projects receiving tax breaks of $1 million or more (up from $100,000) would have to comply with the law; manufacturing companies, commercial tenants in affordable housing projects, and small businesses earning less than $5 million in revenue would now be exempt.

The changes may not be enough to convince the bill’s opponents. According to today’s Daily News, the city’s major construction unions are fighting it. The legislation, however, has the backing of powerful labor and healthcare unions and a large swath of the city’s faith community, and according to the Times, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York–which has previously declined to weigh in on the bill–is now also on board.

Regardless, the future of the bill is in the hands of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who can kill it by refusing to bring it up for a vote on the council floor. She’s yet to take a stance on the issue.

Supporters of the Living Wage Campaign are holding a big rally tonight at Harlem’s Riverside Church; the City Council’s hearing is tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be covering both, so check back here on Breaking Bronx for updates.

 

Montefiore’s Pioneer Surgical Assistant Program Celebrates 40 Years

November 21, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

Graduates Helene Bruce, Natalya Zaritskaya, Suzanne Timmes, Timothy Ramos, Christopher Anderson, Lyncy Simon, with Robert Sammartano Program Director, RPA-C, Program Director PA Residency in Surgery, Senior Surgical PA Pediatric Surgery, President of the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants, and graduates Joni McIntyre, James Doolittle beside Dr. Arnold Berlin M.D. Medical Director, PA Residency in Surgery, Associate Professor of Surgery, Dr. Scott Boley, M.D. Emeritus Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Professor of Surgery & Pediatrics, Robert Blumm, M.A., PA-C, DFAAPA and in the center Shi Chian Khor, 2011 winner of the Michael and Ailing Sheran Award. (Photo courtesy of Montefiore)

Montefiore Medical Center’s Surgical Assistant program recently came full circle. Not only did it celebrate the graduation of its 2011 class, it’s also looking back at 40 years since the program began.

Physician’s assistants help doctors and surgeons perform medical tasks. They came into vogue during the Vietnam War, when physician assistants were relied upon to care for soldiers under doctor’s directions. Montefiore was the first hospital in the country to center the program around helping surgeons in 1971.

Ten members of the PA program graduated at the ceremony recently held at the Cherkasky Auditorium. Members of the 2012 class were also announced.

Clara Vanderbilt is one of the program’s first students and won the PA of the century award from Montefiore in 2000.

“Four decades ago Montefiore established a tradition which became the inspiration for over 40 residencies in surgery and other medical specialties around the country,” she said.

The program, which used to be a full four -ear residency, is now a grueling 15 month program.

Mentors Helping Keep Kids in School

November 21, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

Speaking at the Bronx’s Walton Campus earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed to truancy as an accurate indicator of future academic struggle.

“The more school a child misses during the early grades, the more unlikely for him or her to succeed in the higher grades,” he said.

Bloomberg went on to announce the expansion of a limited city mentorship program that he credits with improving absenteeism at participating schools, including the High School for Teaching and the Professions, one of several small schools at Walton in Kingsbridge Heights.
Read more

Group Wants Kingsbridge Armory to be Bicycling Center

November 21, 2011

By Emily Piccone

A rendering, by renowned architect Ralph Schuermann, of what a velodrome would look like inside the Kingsbridge Armory (courtesy of the NCA)

The six-day bicycle race, made popular in Madison Square Garden in the late 1800s but not held in the city for decades, could be coming to the long-vacant Kingsbridge Armory come spring time. If that works out, event organizers say they will push for the Armory to become the permanent home of a regional bicycling center.

In a presentation on the expansive 575,000-square-foot drill floor of the Armory two weeks ago, National Cycling Association CEO Jack Simes presented the two-part proposal and renderings of the velodrome, an angled, oval racing track, created by Ralph Schuermann, designer of four Olympic velodromes.

The NCA estimates the cost of a one-time event, which would include free bike clinics for youth, the installation of the track, bleacher seating for 2,500 spectators, concession stands and bathrooms, would run about $700,000. Simes said the costs would be covered by private sponsors.
Read more

Bronx’s Clinton Streaks Into HS Football Semifinals

November 19, 2011

By Alex Kratz

Clinton started its playoff push with a narrow win over northwest Bronx rival John F. Kennedy last month. (Photo by Francesca Andre)

The DeWitt Clinton Governors, the last Bronx high school football team in the Public School Athletic League playoffs, beat defending champion Fort Hamilton today, 16-8, to reach the semi-finals. Next Saturday, Clinton faces top-seeded Lincoln, which eliminated Clinton in the second round of the playoffs last year. Winner plays for the championship. Clinton’s riding a five-game winning streak during which they’ve given up an average of around eight points a game, exactly what the defense allowed this afternoon.

Clinton Football Reaches Elite 8, Takes on Fort Hamilton Saturday

November 18, 2011

By Alex Kratz

The DeWitt Clinton Governors football team, riding a five-game winning streak including last week’s dismantling of Port Richmond in the first round of playoffs, travels to southwest Brooklyn tomorrow to take on Fort Hamilton. With eight teams left in the tournament, the winner heads to the semi-finals.

Clinton, seeded 7th, are ranked 9th in the latest Daily News poll.

Yahoo Sports has a breakdown of all the quarterfinal match-ups and says Clinton’s strong defense could turn tomorrow’s game against defending champion Fort Hamilton into “a low-scoring slugfest.”

Saturday Tour to Explore Rezoning Of Kingsbridge and U-Heights

November 18, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee is hosting a walking tour of several neighborhoods in Kingsbridge Heights and University Heights to assess possible rezoning options. The walk is set to begin 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, in front of the Kingsbridge Armory (West Kingsbridge Road and Davidson Avenue).

It will last about two hours. The walk will explore Davidson Avenue, Devoe Park Terrace, and Grand Avenue.

The Board recently completed the rezoning another area of the district. In March, with direction from Community Board 7, the City Council approved the rezoning of a stretch of Webster Avenue and select neighborhoods in Norwood and Bedford Park. The idea was to encourage residential and retail development on Webster and preserve the character of certain blocks in Norwood and Bedford Park.

Rash of Violence Puts Fordham Neighborhood in Crime Spotlight

November 18, 2011

By Jeanmarie Evelly

At the time of his death, Bimal Chanda was moving out of his apartment on West 190th Street and Grand Avenue, where he’d lived for decades. Concerned about increasing crime in the area, friends say, Chanda, his wife, and their teenage daughter were about to move to a condo in Parkchester.

On the morning of Oct. 29, he walked to the store to buy more packing tape. On his way home, he was attacked and viciously beaten in the stairwell of his building. He died five days later.

Chanda’s killing was one of several violent incidents that took place over the last few weeks in the northwest Bronx, with three attacks occurring in close proximity to one another in Fordham. Just a day before the fatal beating, another man was stabbed to death a mere block away, and last week, a four-year-old boy was in critical condition after he was shot on the street just a quarter of a mile south. (About a mile away, on East 198th Street and Bainbridge Avenue, 21-year-old Edwin Nunez was shot to death in the early morning hours of Nov. 5.) Read more

Second Suspect Arrested in Grand Avenue Stabbing

November 18, 2011

By Lindsay Armstrong

Police have arrested and charged a second suspect in the Nov. 1 stabbing death of Bronx resident Gabriel Sherwood.

James D. Garlick, whose girlfriend lived across the street from the University Heights building where he Sherwood was murdered, was arrested in Manhattan on Nov. 11. Police charged him with murder in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a court report filed by the Bronx District Attorney’s office.

Garlick, who often went by his middle name, Darnell, lived in the building next door to Sherwood’s long-time partner, Prum Odle. Odle was shocked when he learned that Garlick was wanted in the case.

“The guy that killed my partner, I don’t know what came into his mind that day. He was a very nice person,” Odle said. “When I found out he was the one, I felt so sad.”

Sherwood suffered multiple stab wounds to his torso during an altercation in the lobby of 2460 Grand Ave. Security cameras captured the entire struggle on tape. Read more

Live from Occupy Demonstrations in the Bronx

November 17, 2011

We’re going to do a little experiment here on Breaking Bronx with some live coverage from the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations happening today as part of the “National Day of Action for the 99%” effort that will culminate in Foley Square in downtown Manhattan at 5 p.m. There will be a handful of events at Bronx subway stations. Norwood News reporters Ronald Chavez and Emily Piccone will be at Yankee Stadium and Fordham Road, respectively, filing reports via Twitter. I’ll do my best to capture all the action here.

Bronx Ale House’s ‘Can 4 Can Food Drive’ Looks to Fill POTS

November 16, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

A great deal at the Bronx Ale House is reinforcing the idea of beer as panacea. All day tomorrow, Nov. 17, if you bring one can of food to the Kingsbridge Heights bar’s, “Cans 4 Cans Food Drive,” you’ll get a free can of craft beer. The food will go to Part of the Solution’s Thanksgiving food pantry.

Part of the Solution, better known as POTS, is a nonprofit multi-service community organization that offers a food, legal services, showers and haircuts to the poor.

The food will help feed a growing number of people in the community who need it on Thanksgiving. POTS said it’s seen usage of its services grow by 88 percent from 2005 to 2010.

POTS says it needs canned protein like tuna, salmon and beans the most.

After the first can, each additional can of food will get you 20 percent off your next beer. That means you can guzzle so that on Thanksgiving, others can gobble.

Electric Truck Manufacturer Coming to the Bronx

November 16, 2011

(Photo courtesy of the Bronx Borough President's office)

For the first time in what feels like a long time, manufacturing jobs are coming into the Bronx instead of leaving it:  Smith Electric, a Missouri-based company which makes electric trucks, will be opening a facility in Port Morris.

Buoyed by a $6 million package of tax breaks, Smith Electric plans to renovate the  Murray Fleiss building, a former lamp warehouse at 275 Locust Ave., according to a press release. The site should be up and running by 2012 and will create 100 jobs, a statement said.

“This project is a win-win for the Bronx and the entire State, and continues to show not only our commitment to bringing new jobs to the Bronx but to growing the green economy here in our borough,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said in a statement.

According to Smith Electric’s website, the company makes zero-emission commercial electric vehicles to use an alternative to traditional diesel trucks. It’s customers include big-names like the Coca-Cola Company and Frito-Lay.

Small Turnout at Bronx Vigil a Sign That Fear Reigns

November 16, 2011

By Lindsay Armstrong

Just four people attended a candlelight vigil for murder victim Bimal Chanda last night on Jerome Avenue. Organizers say the low turnout is an indicator that residents are fearful of reprisal. (Photo by Lindsay Armstrong)

A handful of community members gathered in front of Monroe College for last night’s candlelit vigil in honor of Bimal Chanda. Eight flames honored the 59-year-old Fordham resident who died two weeks ago as the result of a brutal beating at the hands of two unidentified thugs.

The turnout for the vigil was much smaller than expected, but organizers said that was not because there wasn’t support for the victim.

Mohammed Solaiman Ali, a friend of Chanda’s who organized the event said it was not a lack of respect for Mr. Chanda that kept many members of the local Bangladeshi and Indian communities away from the vigil, but rather fear.

“They are afraid. They don’t want people to see their faces,” Ali said. “Even my wife said she wouldn’t come tonight. She said, ‘Don’t make yourself a target.’”

Ali understands this fear all too well. In the summer of 2007, he was the victim of a series of crimes. A woman allegedly burglarized Ali’s Fordham-area home twice within a matter of weeks. When he confronted the suspect about the burglary, Ali says she threatened him and later physically assaulted him with a male partner.

“I couldn’t live properly, do my job properly, or even be on my block because I didn’t feel secure,” Ali says.

When Ali heard about the attack against Chanda he decided it was time to send a message to the community: violence against innocent people must stop. Read more

Bronx Anti-Smoking Events This Week

November 16, 2011

A number of local groups and elected officials will host a forum tonight at the Riverdale Y, 5625 Arlington Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Laying the Foundation for Healthy Living,” is the first in a series of forums organized by the Bronx-Smoke Free Partnership, and will focus on the health benefits of smoke-free housing policies. Panelists include the housing chair for Bronx Community Board 8, a representative from the New York Fire Department Fire Safety Education Department, and a pediatrician from Montefiore Medical Center. RSVP to Deidre Sully at dsully@healthsolutions.org or at (718) 466-8862.

In other anti-smoking news, tomorrow, Nov. 17, is the Great American Smokeout, a day sponsored by the American Cancer Society that aims to inspire smokers to either quit, or to smoke less. Montefiore Medical Center and Bronx Breathes will be handing out free nicotine patches, gum and quit-smoking literature at eight sites throughout the Bronx: At the hospital’s Moses Division, 111 East 210th Street inside the Food Pavilion; 600 East 233rd Street outside the cafeteria; 600 East 233rd Street in the 4th floor Cafeteria; at the Family Health Center, 360 E. 193rd St.; Bronx East, 2300 Westchester Ave.; at the Comprehensive Family Care Center, 1621 Eastchester Road and at the Comprehensive Health Care Center, 305 E. 161st St.

For more information, call Bronx Breathes at (718) 430-2601.

Bronx’s Rivera and Other Latino Leaders Push for Community Engagement

November 16, 2011

By Emily Piccone

After Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez was arrested early Wednesday morning at Zuccotti Park for participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Latino political and organizational leaders, including northwest Bronx State Senator Gustavo Rivera, are standing in support of Rodriguez and urging community participation during tomorrow’s National Day of Action for the 99%.

According to a press release, Rivera was scheduled to appear at a rally today at noon on the steps of City Hall, along with Rodriguez, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, as well as members of the groups La Fuente and Make the Road New York, to speak out and exemplify New Yorkers’ rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.

Tomorrow’s “Day of Action,” celebrating the Occupy Wall Street movement’s two-month anniversary, includes an “Occupy the Subways” rally at the city’s main transit hubs. In the Bronx, protesters will be convening at 3 p.m. at a handful of train stations, including Fordham Road (4 train), 3rd Ave and 138th Street (6), 163rd and Southern Blvd (6), and 161st at Yankee Stadium (B, D, 4).

From the train stations, Occupiers will be heading to Manhattan’s Foley Square for a larger rally at 5 p.m.

Prayer Vigil Tonight for Murder Victim Bimal Chanda

November 15, 2011

Community leaders and local elected officials will hold a prayer vigil tonight for Bimal Chanda, the Fordham resident who was fatally beaten two weeks ago in the stairwell of his apartment building on West 190th Street. The service will be held outside of Monroe College, 2501 Jerome Ave., at 6 p.m.

Community Board 7 member Mohammed Ali, who was a close friend of Chanda’s, is organizing the rally to draw attention to the recent uptick in neighborhood crime, and the vulnerability of immigrants to attack. He believes Chanda, a native of India, was targeted because of his ethnicity.

The outbreak in violent crime attracted the attention of city politicians, who met last week to discuss tactics to curb violence.

The same week that Chanda was killed, another man was stabbed to death in an apartment building just around the corner. Last week, a man was shot to death on Bainbridge Avenue, a four-year-old boy was shot and critically injured in a botched robbery in University Heights, and in another incident, a gunman opened fire at Bronx-Lebonan Hospital. 

Wall Street Protesters ‘Occupy Woodlawn’

November 15, 2011

Dozens of protesters and union members held an "Occupy Woodlawn Cemetery" rally on Saturday. (Photo by David Greene)

A group of protestors from downtown Manhattan’s Occupy Wall Street encampment came to the Bronx this weekend, in a show of support for Woodlawn Cemetery workers campaigning against what they say are unfair labor practices at the landmark cemetery.

About 75 Wall Street demonstrators and members from several labor unions showed up on Saturday to rally with the cemetery workers, who for the last couple of years have tried unsuccessfully to address what they said were acts of overt racism by Woodlawn supervisors.

“We’re going to be there to support them, because their struggle is our struggle,” said Occupy Wall Street organizer Alan Janczewski.

The group marched outside the gates of the 150-year-old cemetery, holding signs and chanting slogans like, “Hey hey, ho ho, racist bosses got to go.”

For the past few years, unionized Woodlawn employees have been at odds with management, claiming supervisors there discriminated against minority workers. Last spring, the cemetery laid off 15 of its 37 workers, a move officials say was necessary to cut budgets costs but which workers claim was retaliation for protesting. Read more

Ribbon Cutting for Oval Park Playground Tomorrow; More Delays for Rec Center

November 14, 2011

By Alex Kratz

The Oval Park playground in July. (Photo by Adi Talwar)

There’s good news and there’s bad news for Norwood’s heavily-used Williamsbridge Oval Park.

We’ll start with the good news. Tomorrow morning at 11 a.m., the Parks Department will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the new playgrounds and basketball courts on the south end of the park. The playgrounds were finished just before the 4th of July thanks to some heavy lobbying by the Friend of Williamsbridge Oval volunteer ground. The basketball courts were only recently finished; their completion was delayed by a shoddy concrete job earlier in the summer.

Now, the bad news. A Parks spokesperson said the plumber working on the major overhaul of the Rec Center has defaulted, which will delay the opening of the center until the spring of 2012. It was originally supposed to open this past spring. Read more

Friday News & Notes, 11/11/11, Veteran’s Day Edition

November 11, 2011

We took last week off, but we’re back today on Breaking Bronx with some freewheeling and random tidbits as we head into the weekend.

— First of all, a very Happy Veteran’s Day to all of our brave men and women who have served or are currently serving overseas.

— I want to take a minute to send a shout out to the vet I know best, ex-Marine Nicky Rosa, a tattoo enthusiast and beer aficionado who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and experienced some crazy, ah, stuff. (Full disclosure: he’s my lovely wife’s cousin.) Soon after coming home from the Middle East, Nicky moved to the Bronx, a borough he is exceedingly passionate about. He loves the Bronx’s working-class, down-to-earth people and attitude. For the past few years, he’s lived on Decatur Avenue, a few blocks north of Fordham Road (one of toughest neighborhoods in the northwest Bronx and he loves it) and now spends his days underneath the Cross Bronx Expressway plying his trade as a union iron worker. Though it’s not official and I don’t mean to jinx it, Nicky is in the process of fulfilling his dream of buying a house in Woodlawn, which he hopes to fix up with the help of his beautiful girlfriend Kelly.

Recently, I’ve read lots of stories about veterans struggling to adapt to life after war and I think it’s completely understandable. While it hasn’t always been easy for him, Nicky has worked hard, stayed positive and, as a consequence, his story keeps getting better and better and should serve as an inspiration to other veterans who are looking to find their post-war way. Cheers, Nicky.

— The family of Bimal Chanda, the 59-year-old Bengali man who was fatally beaten two weeks ago, has hired attorney Joseph Awad.In a phone interview today, Awad said Chanda’s widow, who found her husband in stairwell (and may or may not have scared off his attackers) is understandably devastated and receiving counseling to help her cope with the pain of losing her husband. I asked him about rumors saying Chanda was targeted for some reason — like his ethnicity or the possibility that he witnessed a crime. Awad said, at this point, “there was no reason to believe he was targeted.” Read more

Bronx Community Leaders and Officials Brainstorm Solutions to Recent Violence (Video)

November 11, 2011

By Alex Kratz


[Video: Council Speaker Christine Quinn, second from the right, talks about the recent spike in violence citywide. Sitting with her, from left to right, are Community Board 7 Chair Paul Foster, Councilman Fernando Cabrera, and Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene.]

In reaction to a recent spike in violent crime, including the shooting of a 4-year-old in University Heights on Tuesday night, Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera and Council Speaker Christine Quinn held a public brainstorming session among community leaders. The goal was to solicit solutions, both immediate and long-term, for curbing the recent rise in violence.

In terms of long-term fixes, at the beginning of the meeting, Quinn announced the formation of a gun violence task force in the Council headed by Cabrera and Brooklyn’s Jumaane Williams.

From there, Cabrera, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene and community board leaders from several community districts offered up a wide range of ideas, some concrete, others more philosophical. Read more

More NW BX Violence: 4-year-old Boy Shot; Gunman Shoots Up Bronx Lebanon

November 10, 2011

By Alex Kratz and Emily Piccone

The recent outbreak of violence in the northwest Bronx continues. A four-year-old boy was shot during a botched robbery attempt in University Heights on Tuesday night. Last night, two hospital workers were struck by bullets when a gunman opened fire at Bronx Lebanon Hospital in Mount Eden.

Both of the hospital workers were in stable condition and were expected to be release. But the boy, Cincer Balthazar, is in critical but stable condition at Columbia University Medical Center while police sort out the gory details and local elected officials search for answers.

Details remain somewhat sketchy and differ according to reports, but this much is clear: Cincer’s father, Bobby Balthazar, had taken his son out for ice cream and was returning him to a homeless shelter near Grand Avenue and Evelyn Place where the boy lived with his mother. While walking back to the shelter, Balthazar was approached by three young men who tried to steal the father’s designer Pelle Pelle jacket at gunpoint. Read more

Generator Fire at Hospital Forces Temporary Evacuations; No Injuries Reported

November 9, 2011

Montefiore employees return to work this afternoon after a boiler room fire forced a temporary evacuation. (Photo by Alex Kratz)

A fire that began today at around 2 p.m. in Montefiore Medical Center’s main building on Gun Hill Road forced the evacuation of 250 hospital employees for a little more than an hour. Montefiore officials said no one was injured, patients were temporarily transported to other parts of the building and employees successfully followed emergency procedures.

After carbon dioxide levels died down, employees returned to work shortly after 3 p.m.

Witnesses said black smoke began billowing out of a Montefiore building vent on Gun Hill Road, near Baibridge Avenue, at around 2 p.m. Soon, Montefiore employees were streaming out of the front entrance to the building wondering when they would be allowed to return.

The two-alarm fire completely shut down traffic around the already congested intersection of Bainbridge Avenue and Gun Hill Road.

Inspector Joseph Dowling, the commander of the 52nd Precinct, said the fire erupted in the boiler room, but was mostly doused by “foam units” that dispersed automatically when the fire started. Smoke from the fire began circulating through the hospital’s ventilation system causing conditions that forced an evacuation of patients and staff.

Patients being treated in the emergency and intensive care units were taken to other parts of the building that weren’t affected by the fire, a Montefiore spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, in the hospital’s operating room, business continued as usual. David Turk, an anesthesiologist who was in the middle of helping out with a thyroid operation at the time the fire broke out, said they could smell smoke and knew something was happening, but it didn’t affect their case.

Breaking: Fire at Montefiore Medical Center (Updated)

November 9, 2011

A fire broke out this afternoon at Montefiore Medical Center (photo by Emily Piccone)

Firefighters are currently responding to a two-alarm fire at Montefiore Hospital, on Gun Hill Road, near Bainbridge Avenue. Norwood News editor Alex Kratz is on the scene and says the blaze was small and started by a generator above emergency room. The emergency room and two intensive care rooms were evacuated.

According to the hospital’s Twitter feed, no one was injured and the fire was contained immediately.

We’ll have more information for you as it come in.

Update: Employees returning to the building, as of 2:55 p.m.

Revealing The Buried Afro-American History Of The Bronx River

November 9, 2011

Morgan Powell during his walking historical tour of the African-American experience near the Bronx River. (Photo courtesy of Morgan Powell)

By Lulaine Compere

Morgan Powell has been on a nine-year mission — researching, traveling and interviewing people about the history of African Americans in the Bronx. He estimates, conservatively, that he has spent $8000 to bring this story to life.

In the spring, Powell partnered with the Bronx River Alliance and held a free two-hour walking tour along the Bronx River to highlight certain places and people that are important to the African American history in the area. And two Saturdays ago at the Bronx Library Center, Powell turned his walking tour into a presentation called “The Bronx River’s Afro-American Heritage in 100 Golden Moments.”

“The point of this project was to write African American history into a story people might think they know about the Bronx River,” Powell says, adding: “African Americans are the second biggest ethnic group in the Bronx.”

Powell says the walking tour wasn’t his original idea. But when someone at the Bronx River Alliance suggested it, Powell decided to do it. Currently there are no plans to extend the walking tour or expand it to other parts in the Bronx. In the future, Powell says he wants to publish academic essays about the Bronx’s African American history. Read more

Searching for Answers in the Murder of Bimal Chanda

November 8, 2011

By David Greene

Mohammed Ali, a friend of the victim, speaks to a reporter during a press conference that coincided with the wake for Bimal Chanda. (Photo by David Greene)

By David Greene

Last Thursday evening, as mourners began paying their respects to murder victim Bimal Chanda at the Parkchester Funeral Home, Chanda’s friends joined with community leaders and local elected officials outside of the building to publicly demand answers in his death.

A day earlier, Chanda, 59, died from injuries he suffered during an Oct. 29 attack in his West 190th Street apartment building stairwell.

The wake and press conference last Thursday night were charged with anger and emotion.

As Mohammed Solaiman Ali, a longtime friend of the victim and Community Board 7 member, spoke to a crowd of assembled reporters, his voice cracked with emotion.”I cannot even believe he’s not in the world anymore, this innocent guy,” Ali said. “He’s like a hero. He knew every single thing.” Read more

An Anticlimactic Bronx Election Day

November 8, 2011

Your ballot choices.

Yes, it’s Election Day in New York, in case you were wondering why the kids have off from school. Bronxites eager to fulfill their civic duty, however, will be disappointed to learn that there’s no actual race going on in the Boogie Down.

New Yorkers in some parts of the city will be voting for district attorney and judicial candidates, but there’s only one name on the Bronx ballot — Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.

Johnson, the borough’s DA for the last two decades, hasn’t had an opponent since 1999, according to City Limits.  

So while you might not get to indulge in the thrill of voting today, you can enjoy the thrill of parking on any side of the street you want: thanks to Election Day, alternate side rules are suspended.

Budding Marathon Star a Neighborhood Face

November 7, 2011

Buzunesh Deba, the runner up in the women’s race for the New York City Marathon isn’t just a Bronxite. She may be your neighbor.

The 195th Street resident finished just four seconds behind fellow Ethiopian and friend Firehiwot Dado at 2:23:19, according to the Daily News.

Photo courtesy of New York Road Runners

Deba and Dado rushed past Mary Keitany with about one mile of the 26.1 mile race to go. Keitany unwisely shot ahead at the start, and could not keep her pace.

Deba moved to the Bronx from Asella, Ethiopia six years ago as an 18-year-old after marrying Worku Bey, according to the New York Times. Bey, formerly an elite runner himself, quit to become Deba’s trainer.

This isn’t the first time Deba’s legs carried her to great finishes. Last year she won the Twin Cities Marathon and the Grandma Marathon in Minnesota, but her time for the New York City Marathon yesterday was her best ever. Deba had previously finished 10th and seventh in her hometown race.

Deba also told the Times her diet consists of broccoli, potatoes, rice, and sometimes chicken. When she’s not running, she admires at the zebras at the nearby Bronx Zoo.

On the men’s side, Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai won the marathon in grand fashion. At 02:05:06, he smashed the previous record for the marathon by 2:37.

Man Shot to Death On Bainbridge Avenue, In Third Murder In Seven Days

November 7, 2011

By David Greene and Jeanmarie Evelly

A 21-year-old man was shot and killed on Saturday on Bainbridge Avenue and E. 198th Street — the third homicide this week in the 52nd Precinct.

The shooting took place outside of 2843 Bainbridge Avenue, at 4:26 a.m. on Saturday. The victim, identified by police as Edwin Valdez, 21, of the Grand Concourse, was shot once in the chest and died a short time later at St. Barnabas Hospital. One witness claimed to have heard multiple shots fired before observing a group of teens fleeing north on Bainbridge Avenue. Police canvassed local hospitals, believing the gunman was also shot, but have not identified the shooter. Police have no suspects and continue to investigate. Read more

Domestic Violence Art Project Returns to Fordham Plaza

November 7, 2011

By Jeanmarie Evelly

(Photo by Jeanmarie Evelly)On Oct. 18, Bronx AIDS Services sponsored its annual “Clothesline Project,” in Fordham Plaza. Domestic violence survivors and their supporters decorated white T-shirts with messages of encouragement, and strung the shirts along clotheslines across the square. The event is meant to be an outlet of expression for survivors of abuse, and an opportunity for them to symbolically air their dirty laundry, said organizer SoJourner McCauley. Read more

DOT Looks to Put Gun Hill Road on Fast Track

November 7, 2011

By Ronald Chavez

Despite its name, traffic on Gun Hill Road is known to be anything but bullet speed. That’s why the Department of Transportation has presented a new study that includes a slew of fixes it hopes will speed up the molasses-slow road.

The East Gun Hill Corridor Study proposes a series of street direction changes, extended sidewalks and curbs, and repairs to make intersections safer and speed up traffic. Read more

Coalition, Occupiers Combine Forces

November 7, 2011

By David Greene

A crowd of about 200 demonstrate outside of Chase Bank on East Fordham Road. (Photo by David Greene)

The old school grassroots organizers with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition have found an energetic new ally in the growing number of demonstrators with the nascent Occupy the Bronx movement.

The two groups, who share a “power to the people” message, joined forces on a recent Saturday afternoon to collectively call out big banks for what they say is the banks’ role in creating the country’s economic crisis.

But first, each group held their own separate assemblies on opposite ends of Fordham Road. Read more

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