Tag Archive | "city council"

City Council Members Want Trump Golf Course License Cancelled

Parks and Recreation Committee listens to testimony at a sparsely attended hearing. Tate Hewitt for The Bronx Ink.

City council members are calling on the parks department to cancel a contract it holds with Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a golf course in Throggs Neck.

Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Shekar Krishnan and Councilperson Marjorie Velázquez were joined last Thursday by members of 9/11 Justice, an advocacy group for victims and families of September 11th, in an attempt to prevent The Aramco Team Series, a Saudi Arabian funded golf tournament, from being held in October on Trump’s golf course. 

Citing FBI operation Encore as evidence that Saudi Arabia was linked to the terrorist attack, 9/11 Justice was asking the city to intervene by pulling the license of Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point.

“Our federal bureau of investigation has identified 12 Saudi government officials who were directly responsible for assisting the 9/11 hijackers. One of those Saudi government officials was working for the Saudi intelligence agency,” said Brett Eagleson, president of 9/11 Justice, “For the City of New York to ignore this point…is a travesty,” adding “it’s like salt on an open wound.”

The contract can be canceled at parks commissioner Sue Donoghue’s sole discretion, but her employer – the mayor- may also dismiss her at will. Neither Donoghue, nor any representatives from the parks department, attended the special parks committee hearing last week to review Ferry Point Park LLC’s license to operate a public golf course. Mayor Eric Adams and his administration was also absent from the hearing.

Krishnan said the council was informed late Wednesday night that representatives from either office would not be in attendance. “No reason was given,” according to Krishnan.

“Not one minute away from this chamber…this administration could not send a single person to explain to New Yorkers why City Hall has handed over a public park to Donald Trump and his criminal enterprise,” said Krishnan. The license dates back to February 21st, 2012, predating much of the controversy surrounding former President Trump.

The Bronx Ink reached out to the Mayor’s office for comment on their absence. They responded with a statement from Communications Director Max Young, “Because of ongoing litigation risk, the administration has been advised against appearing at this hastily called hearing and will instead be submitting written testimony.” 

The statement from the mayor’s office was sympathetic to the “desired outcome to cancel both this tournament and the overarching license agreement” but argued that the price of breaking the contract would be “up to tens of millions of dollars.”

The Aramco Team Series is a women’s golf tournament that is a new addition to the Ladies European Tour. It constitutes an initial Saudi Arabian investment into the golf world, but has recently been overshadowed by their second initiative, LIV Golf, a men’s tour which has controversially pulled athletes away from the PGA tour with large sums of money. This would be the first year in which a leg of the tournament would be hosted in New York City.

A document addressed to the Committee from Park Commissioner Donoghue states that her office shares the sentiment that the Aramaco Tournament is “disappointing” and also pointed to financial risks. “Given the City’s budget situation, termination at will – as you are suggesting – would be irresponsible at this time. It would embroil the City in litigation and require a termination payment…that Trump Ferry has claimed could amount to $30 million.” 

Donoghue’s statement disputed points of the hearing’s testimony by questioning the city’s legal standing for breaking the contract, and whether any “misuse” of the contract has occurred.

This contrasted the committee testimony of Stephen Younger, a past president of the New York State Bar Association. He spoke on the legality of terminating the license, informing the committee that Donoghue may pull the license as long as her reasoning is neither arbitrary nor capricious.

Younger noted the recent guilty plea of Allan Weisselberg, a Trump organization leader in whose name Trump Ferry Point LLC is held, as well as the recent withdrawal of support by Mezars USA (the accounting firm that certified Trump’s now disputed net worth as sole guarantor for the park license), as reasonable grounds for termination of the license. 

Krishnan asked Younger about the divorce fee of 30 million dollars that had been stated by a spokesperson for the mayor, after an earlier attempt to cancel the tournament. Younger said that the cost would likely be between $5 million and $10 million.

“The same price of building a bathroom in a city park,”  Krishnan said.

The higher figure of $30 million was originally stated by Eric Trump– apparently not fact-checked by the Mayor’s office, according to Krishnan. 

The sole dissent on the committee was David Carr (R), who objected that the committee was not interested in management of the Parks many golf courses, but was instead “motivated by one thought: orange man bad.”

Posted in Politics, Southern Bronx, SportsComments (0)

Bronx Political Trailblazer and Civil Rights Leader Rev. Wendell Foster Remembered

Rev. Wendell Foster, a civil rights activist who marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King and the first black city council representative from the Bronx, died on Tuesday, Sept. 3. He was 95 years old.

“He endured Jim Crow, marched for civil rights, fought to open doors of opportunity for his constituents in the Bronx, and blazed a trail for black lawmakers across our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted on Wednesday. “Our hearts are with the Foster family tonight.”

Pastor of Morrisania’s Christ Church for 52 years, Foster was known for his deep connections to the neighborhoods he served both spiritually and politically.

“Rev. Wendell Foster was a pioneer, and someone who helped to make the Bronx and our nation a better place,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. in a statement. “As the first black elected representing the Bronx in the City Council, Rev. Foster was a historic figure in our borough and a dedicated public servant who inspired a whole generation of elected officials to serve their community.”

Foster told the New York Times in 2009 that he came to New York from Alabama when he was 13 years old after reading in a black newspaper about “what people were doing ‘up north.’” The bus station he left from was segregated.

He became an ordained minister and was then sent by a bishop to Bermuda, where he met his wife, Helen Foster. The two returned to New York, settling down on Woodycrest Avenue in the Bronx. Their 63rd anniversary would have been Monday, Sept. 9

Foster’s first run for city council in 1973 proved unsuccessful. One of his opponents, south Bronx political power-broker Ramon Velez, sent Foster one of his own sound trucks to advertise his campaign message throughout the neighborhood, according to Rev. Bruce Rivera, who took over for Foster as senior pastor at Christ Church last year.

“Could you imagine any opponent sending assistance to help?” said Rivera, who was 16 years old at the time.  “We didn’t know anything about how politics operated in the Bronx. We didn’t know anything about petitions.”

Rivera was introduced to Foster the same year he helped out on Foster’s first campaign. “If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have been another lost kid in the South Bronx,” Rivera said. “His influence deeply changed my life.”

Foster finally won the 16th council district seat on his third try in 1977. The district encompasses the Morrisania, Highbridge and Crotona neighborhoods. According to Rivera, many of Foster’s policies were developed by asking neighbors and community members what their needs were.

Foster was the primary sponsor of 74 city council resolutions, according to New York City data, targeting everything from police reform and better access to libraries and parks, to increased public housing and always for equity in black and Hispanic Bronx residents.

Foster served on the council until 2002 He was succeeded by his daughter, Helen Foster. She was the first black woman elected official in the Bronx, where she represented the 16th district for 11 years, stepping down in 2013.

 “He was a committed and dedicated public servant who gave his all to making a difference during a challenging time in the Bronx,” said Vanessa Gibson, current councilperson representing the 16th district. “His work paved the way for African American elected officials in the Bronx and I proudly stand upon his shoulders thankful for his service through the years.”

After his years on the council, Foster continued to serve his community through his church and as a community advocate.

 “The liberation movement has never ceased: It’s always been,” said Foster in his 2009 New York Times interview. “You’ll always find a few nuts like myself out there, trying to better things.”

Foster is survived by his wife, Helen, his two daughters, Helen and Rebekah, and two grandchildren.

Posted in Bronx NeighborhoodsComments (0)

Cannoli and gorillas in the Bronx, Crain’s NY

Local merchants of the city’s largest Little Italy that rely on zoo crowds for business fight Bronx Zoo budget cuts.  Crain’s NY reports that the annual Boo at the Zoo Festival alone brings thousands of families to Arthur Avenue after the festival.  City Hall’s original budget proposal for fiscal 2012 called for a 53% funding cut for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the zoo.  In protest, Bronx’s Cannoli King, Jerome Raguso, owner of Gino’s Pastry Shop, sent a few dozen empty pastry shells to City Council members. His message said, “This is what you get when you eliminate 53% of a cannoli.”



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[VIDEO] Bronx smokers fuming over ban

The City Council voted 36-12 to extend the smoking ban to parks and recreation areas.

By Ethan Frogget

Posted in Bronx Life, Multimedia, Politics, The Bronx Beat, VideoComments (0)