It has been around forever

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Politicians Praise Riverdale Review But Fail to Disclose Conflicts

In this week's Riverdale Review, five politicians (BP Diaz, Councilman Koppell, Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Dinowitz and State Senator-elect Espaillat) took a not-too-subtle stance on the community boycott raging against the Riverdale Review. They all took full page ads (although I am sure Andy Wolf did not charge them the full freight) to congratulate the Review on 18 years in business. Of course, what 3 of them did not disclose is that they have major conflicts of interest concerning the paper. As previously reported in the Riverdale Press, it was Congressman Eliot Engel who along with Councilman Koppell who helped Andy Wolf acquire the paper 17 years ago by assisting him with obtaining financial support and legal assistance to complete the transaction. So when Councilman Koppell says in his ad "A free press is the hallmark of a great community" he is being about as hypocritical as a politician can be. Before he goes around pretending that the Review is a unbiased newspaper, he should disclose that he was instrumental in making sure Andy Wolf could purchase the paper and he has benefitted greatly from that assistance. The same goes for Congressman Engel. There should be no mystery why Mr. Wolf supports these politicians given this history. The same also goes for Mr. Diaz. One of his top aides is John DeSio, who wrote for the Review for nearly a decade. Just as telling is that when Diaz first ran for BP, Andy Wolf created a blog called Bronx Press Politics that was written almost entirely by -- guess who -- John DeSio. As you can see by checking out the blog (until they take it down), it reads like a Diaz campaign website. So is it any wonder why the public is so cynical about politicians and their motives? And finally, while all these politicians were patting Andy Wolf on the back for his "18th year fighting for better schools and a stronger community" (as Diaz put it), in the very same issue he was busy once again attacking P.S. 24 in 3 of his articles and an editorial. I guess this is what they are referring to as a great service to our community?

Riverdale Press Takes Andy Wolf to the Woodshed on First Amendment

Here is a great editorial in this week's Riverdale Press that takes Andy Wolf of the Riverdale Review to the woodshed on the First Amendment. Since November, there has been a community boycott of his paper that has already garnered nearly 700 signatures. Last week the group visited Mr. Wolf's office to deliver a birthday card signed by dozens of local residents and a cake on the 219th birthday of the First Amendment (of course, the coward refused to come out of his office and instead called the police even though it was a peaceful visit). All of this has Mr. Wolf crying about his First Amendment rights. However, as the Press editorial accurately points out after referencing the actual language of the First Amendment,"When you do, it becomes clear that this fight has nothing to do with the First Amendment at all. A group of citizens that stages a protest against what it sees as irresponsible journalism doesn’t even come near stepping on the Constitution’s toes. This is not the long arm of the law reaching in to stop the free flow of information. It’s angry citizens saying what they think." The editorial ends with this powerful statement, "So in belated honor of the First Amendment’s birthday we ask Mr. Wolf to stop taking its name in vain..." In other words, after years of savaging our community with his biased stories and blunting the free speech of others, Andy Wolf is now trying to wrap himself in the First Amendment to insulate himself from any real criticism. The First Amendment was designed to protect the exact speech reflected in the boycott. Wolf's hypocrisy is comical. If you really want to honor the First Amendment, sign the petition. Viva La Boycott!

Bronx Beep Takes Credit for Alleged Spike in Bronx Economy

Here is an article by Dan Beekman at the Daily News about the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. touting his role in the spike in business in the Bronx. The article notes that "the Business Initiative Corp. of New York, sponsored by the BOEDC (Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp), has made 41 loans to Bronx businesses since October 2009, totaling more than $24 million.The BOEDC has also arranged $2.3 million in federal Empowerment Zone loans this year." The BP's office funds the BOEDC. But the article also notes "About 12.5% of Bronx residents are unemployed, the highest rate of any borough." So I am a bit confused as to what spike we are referring to. While BOEDC should be commended for their outstanding efforts to loan money to Bronx businesses, it is not clear that it has borne fruit yet in the form of an uptick in jobs or the local economy -- or at least there was no mention of it by the Daily News or the BP. Would like to hear more about those numbers before people start patting themselves on the back and dancing in the streets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jeff Klein Loses (Leaves) Post at State Dem. Senate Campaign Committee

Celeste Katz at the Daily News is out with a follow-up story about the change in leadership at the State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee from Jeff Klein (pictured on the right) of the Bronx and Senator Mike Gianaris of Queens (pictured on the left). It's unclear whether Klein was forced out or he left on his own. He has stated that he voluntarily left after serving for two years as is customary. However, here is an interesting quote from an earlier post by Katz that might shed light on this issue, "Gianaris steered clear of talking about the rumblings that the replacement of Klein, who's still deputy leader of the conference, had to do with any designs he might have had on Sampson's leadership post." Reports are that the Senate Campaign Committee is $7 million in debt after this round of elections, which cost the Dems the Senate.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Borough Presidents Spend Their (Our) Money

Here is a good article from Chris Bragg at City Hall News about how the City's Borough Presidents shell out their/our dollars. One interesting quote, "Out of the $387,000 that the Bronx borough president's office has spent on discretionary expenses this year, $300,000 went directly to the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the office's economic development arm." In this economy, support for small businesses is critical, so hopefully our borough is getting a good return on that investment.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Profile of New Councilman: Fernando Cabrera

Here is a profile of Councilman Fernando Cabrera from the Bronx News Network. Cabrera, who was elected in 2009. defeated Maria Baez by less than 100 votes. As some readers may recall, she was regarded as one of the worst members of the Council (and that is hard to do). Here is an interesting quote from the article, "Unlike Baez, who had the worst attendance record in the Council for years, Cabrera shows up to work. He has perfect attendance at “stated” Council meetings (when the whole body convenes) and says he’s made 89 percent of his committee meetings." No where to go but up!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pols Called Out on Double-Dipping Pensions

Here is a New York Post article that identifies 11 state lawmakers (including former Bronx Boss and Assemblyman Jose Rivera--pictured far left with Ruben Diaz Sr. and Vito Lopez to right) who are able to double-dip on their pensions. These lawmakers are able to file their "retirement" papers but continue to be paid their full salary while in office. So for example, Vito Lopez, the embattled Brooklyn Boss, is going to get an $88,000 pension on top of his $92,000 salary in the Assembly. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pedro Espada and Son Indicted -- Finally!

Celeste Katz at the Daily News is all over the story about the long-awaited indictment of Pedro Espada for embezzlement and theft charges. The feds also charged his son, Pedro G. Espada, a chip off the old block. It is thought that the Espadas stole millions from the health care clinics they ran. But one of my favorite lines of the day came from the Senate Dems, "In light of Senator Pedro Espada's indictment, he has been removed as Majority Leader and Chair of the Senate Housing Committee effective immediately." Hey Senate Dems, why the rush? Is there anyone who wonders why they lost the majority after only two years?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Riverdale Review Boycott Highlights Attacks By Andy Wolf on Schools

Here is a link to the Boycott the Review facebook page, which posts a newsletter detailing the vicious attacks that Andy Wolf has made against no less than 6 local schools. So while Wolf likes to pretend to be an expert on education he has no educational background and his only real credential is his attacks on schools and their leaders. Time to stop the hate -- Boycott the Review and sign the petition.

An Unhappy Anniversary for the Kingsbridge Armory: UPDATE

Here is an article from the New York Post about the sad 1st anniversary of the day that the Kingsbridge Armory was killed as a consumer mall. The article is appropriately entitled "In the Bronx, an empty sore instead of jobs". Here is another little interesting thing to note -- it was written by Candice Giove. For years, Candice was Andy Wolf's chief cheap-shot artist over at the Riverdale Review. I guess it is a good idea that Wolf keeps most of his most vile attack pieces off the web so her new employers probably never saw it. UPDATE: Here is an editorial in today's Daily News, entitled "Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Let Down the Bronx When He Killed the Kingsbridge Armory Mall." This editorial states that a recent study "found unemployment among young black men at 24.2%. Worse, joblessness is a staggering 52% for young black men without a high school diploma." In addition, an editorial in today's New York Post refers to the Armory anniversary in an article about Wal Mart. This editorial states "In The Bronx, sadly, the concept of any job all too often doesn't apply. The borough has the city's highest unemployment rate -- and it ranks among the nation's poorest communities." It also cites to a recent survey that found that New Yorkers approve of having a Wal Mart by an overwhelming margin of 71 to 24 percent. Just as significant for the Armory issue, Bronxites supported a Wal Mart by an unbelievable margin of 80-18 percent. So who are the ones opposing Wal Mart? We need an honest an open debate about this issue and it looks like that is finally going to happen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Espada Still Pulling Down Big Bucks

Here is a story from the NY Post about the fact that Pedro Espada is still drawing a salary of $287,000 a year from his health care centers. He has already been charged with using one of his centers as his personal piggy bank by AG Cuomo. Nothing new here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Diaz, Sr. Calls Out the Senate on Parker

This story from Capital Tonight goes to the heart of the hypocrisy in the State Senate -- State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. came out swinging against his colleagues for their lack of action against Senator Kevin Parker after he was convicted on two misdemeanor charges. Of course, not too long ago the Senate moved to expel Hiram Monserrate for one misdemeanor. Diaz rightly says, "Will Senator Schneiderman be consistent and show us what a true hero he thinks he is by starting the same kind of Senate action he organized to kick Hiram Monserrate out for his one misdemeanor?”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Assemblyman Peter Rivera Fires Staffer Over Press Conference: UPDATE

Here is an article from Capitol Confidential about Assemblyman Peter Rivera firing longtime aide Guillermo Martinez hours after he put on a press conference dubbed “Latino Agenda: Recommendations to Governor Elect Andrew Cuomo & and Lt. Governor-Elect Robert Duffy. The article recounts, "The press release that was issued at the conference included what could be described as a series of demands tucked into the recommendations. It is imperative to have Hispanics named to agencies as Commissioners, Deputy Executive Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Counsels, Government affairs liaisons and department heads,” reads one of the suggested initiatives." Just thought you might find this interesting. UPDATE: here is an interview with Peter Rivera with Liz Benjamin.

New Amigos in the State Senate?

Here is a posting by Gerson Borrero of El Diaro about six Latino members of the State Senate who may be the new amigos. He notes that for the first time in history, there will be six Latino State Senators serving at the same time. Four of the six represent portions of the Bronx, including Ruben Diaz, Sr., Jose Serrano, Gustavo Rivera (pictured), and Adriano Espaillat. Borrero states, "The Republicans may have the control once again, but could the six Latinos join together to make themselves relevant even while their party is in the minority? Or will they?"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bx. Boss Heastie Complains about Anti-NYC Sentiment

Liz Benjamin over at Captial Tonight blogs about Bx. Boss (there is our Boss to the left) Carl Heastie's sense that there is an anti-NYC sentiment among opponents of the plan to restructure the downstate OTB operation.

Liz writes:"Heastie, who is also chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party, called this development “sickening,” adding (via text message, his preferred mode of communication): “(It) can lead to regional problems down the road for those who need city legislators’ votes for their regional issues. That sounded vaguely threatening to me, but Heastie insisted he’s not suggesting he’ll vote “no” on anything in particular. He did, however, confirm that he’s “pissed” at lawmakers who are now proposing a “compromise” bill that would include the regional and suburban OTBs."

You would think our Boss would find something more important to get excised about than OTB--a bookie operation that should have been put out of business long ago.

Mayor Proposes Ways to Make Voting Easier

Celeste Katz at the Daily News posted this link to a press conference by Mayor Bloomberg where he and various good government groups propose a series of reforms to make it easier to vote. Voting rates in NY are among the lowest in the country. So to address the problem, the Mayor proposed the following ideas to the state legislature:
Creating an early voting period;
Allowing New Yorkers to fill out their ballots at home and bring to a polling site;
Modernizing registration process and extending registration deadline from 25 days to 10 days before Election Day; and
Simplifying the ballot design with plain language instructions.
At this point anything will help!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Republicans to Control State Senate

Liz Benjamin over at Capital Tonight reports on a ruling by a Nassau judge on a close State Senate race that will now hand control of the Senate over to the Republicans as many expected. This seat gives the Republicans 32 votes, a small majority but enough to control the patronage and budget issues. The Democrats may challenge this ruling, but it is being reported that they are $2.4 million in debt. So it looks like the Dems may lose the Senate after just two years -- and they did such a fine job!

Andy Wolf Responds to Boycott of Review: UPDATE

So here is Andy Wolf's answer to a community boycott against his rag the Riverdale Review --[UPDATE: As only a true coward would, Wolf made his site password protected once we linked to it] true to form he spews plenty of hate and lies and tries to hide behind the First Amendment. Wolf calls me "corrupt" and a "two-bit politician" -- last I checked I have been elected to no office and enjoy a stellar reputation as a volunteer for the past 15 years. Wolf then goes on to jumble up the idea of freedom of the press and the First Amendment -- of course, he fails to acknowledge or comprehend that those principles only apply to governmental action to limit the press or speech. Boycotts of newspapers and speech by non-governmental entities and communities are as old as our country. There have been boycotts of the Daily News by one of its unions, boycotts of Hearst Newspapers, and there is a major boycott going on right now involving Fox News. More locally, in 2006 right here in Riverdale there were two protests by some prominent religious leaders of speeches to be given by controversial speaker Tony Judt. Mr. Judt cancelled one of those appearances under the threat of further protests. Those religious leaders had every right to express their displeasure with his appearance and speech--that is what is protected by the First Amendment. Andy Wolf supported their efforts in his paper. Why was he not screaming about free speech then? Because he is either a hypocrite or completely ignorant of the basic tenants of the Constitution. If you want to stop the hate Sign this Petition or visit this Facebook Page for more information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Councilman Koppell Worried that Bronxites Can't Spell

Bob Kappstatter over at the Daily News wrote the story below about the effort by Councilman Oliver Koppell to change the name of Kazimiroff Blvd. outside the Botanical Garden back to Southern Blvd. That change has got some locals livid over the feeling that the name of Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff will be lost to history. Koppell says the change is needed after 30 years because some people can't spell Kazimiroff into their GPS. Curiously, he wants to leave it for certain stretches of the road? Good to see the Council is spending it's time on these weighty issues during the worst economy in our history.

A street by any other name

Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, usually the easiest going of men, is hoppin' mad over the City Council skedded vote today to turn Kazimiroff Blvd. outside the Botanical Garden and Fordham U. back to its original name of Southern Blvd.

It wasn't named for some obscure general from the Revolutionary War, but in 1981, a year after the death of Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff, a dentist who served as official Bronx historian and co-founded the Bronx County Historical Society.

"We don't want to destroy the good memory of Dr. Kazimiroff," said bill sponsor Councilman Ollie Koppell, explaining that emergency service and postal vehicles have trouble finding addresses there, as do GPS users who can't spell Kazimiroff.

Kazimiroff Blvd. WILL remain the secondary signage from Fordham Road to Allerton Ave.