Tag Archive | "ruben diaz jr"

Domestic violence services in the Bronx to get $1M, NY1

The federal government announced that it is extending nearly $1 million in grants to improve domestic violence cases in the Bronx, according to NY1.

The federal money will go to the Bronx district attorney’s office, the city Department of Probation, the NYPD and Safe Horizon, a nationwide victim service center.

The grant will also go toward future events sponsored by Safe Horizon, an anti-violence advocate in the Bronx and the city.


Posted in NewswireComments (0)

Multimedia: Ruben Diaz Jr. knocking doors for peace

A day after 16-year-old Bronx teen, Jose Webster, was gunned down, borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. spent knocking on doors to promote his gun control initiative. Along with Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, City Council Member Fernando Cabrera and volunteers, Diaz took the “Peace in our Streets Initiative” to the James Monroe Houses in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

Posted in Crime, Multimedia, SlideshowsComments (0)

Fighting gun crime one flyer at a time

Ruben Diaz Jr.: "We are sick and tired of being held hostage in our apartments."

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. raced from door to door in the Monroe Housing Projects in Soundview last Saturday, knocking on doors, handing out flyers, imploring residents to help clear guns off the streets.

“We’re sick and tired of reading about shootings on a daily basis,” said Diaz Jr., dressed in a Peace In Our Streets t-shirt promoting the borough hall initiative that implores residents to call an anonymous hotline if they know about illegal guns.

“We are all sick and tired of being held hostage in our own apartments,” Diaz Jr. said. He lives in Boynton Avenue in Soundview, and is fearful when his son goes out at night to walk his girlfriend home across the street.

The 10-year-old program, funded in part with private donations, offers a $1,000 reward for tips that end in arrest. Diaz Jr. claims that the program resulted in 109 Bronx arrests in 2009 and 158 in 2010. He said that 79 guns were confiscated because of the hotline last year, up from 59 the year before.

Soundview in the 43rd Precinct of the Bronx has seen a spike in gun crime over the last two years. Arrests for felony assaults increased from 352 to 378 between last year and today, an increase of 7.4 percent.

“We need some uniformity in federal gun control laws,” Diaz Jr. said. “What we’re seeing is many of the guns in our streets that are killing our children are coming from Virginia and South Carolina.”

His remarks came a week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out against the new Right-to-Carry Act, a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed firearms over state lines.

Ruben Diaz Jr.: Knocking Doors for Peace from Mohammed Ademo on Vimeo.

Some residents were skeptical about the borough president’s approach. “Paying people in the community to rat or squeal on those who have guns is one thing, but we still have killings,” said Martin N. Danenberg, an education advocate. “I don’t have much confidence in the people all around to get the job done.”

Danenberg believes education is more effective than anonymous tipsters. “If you educate them and they realize they can earn money without using guns,” he said, “you won’t even have to pay them $1000!”

Still, Diaz believes the program is so worthwhile, he was willing to walk the halls of the Monroe project to promote it. Diaz Jr. believes the 15.6 percent jump in arrests for felonies can be attributed to illegal gun smuggling and the glorifying of violence in popular culture.

“They only give individuals record deals where they promote violence,” he said. “There has to be more of an option.”

Monroe residents were surprised and a little skeptical to see their borough president knocking on doors. Local resident Rhonda said Diaz Jr. knocked just as she was getting ready to leave the house.

“I was like, I’ll be nice,” said Rhonda. “But I’ve never seen him before a day in my life!”

Miriam Sanchez has lived in Monroe housing for 23 years. She supported the mayor’s recent campaign to increase the minimum sentence for firearms offences to three and a half years.

“Now, I don’t feel the three years is doing any justice either,” Sanchez said. “It’s not working. They need to get five years mandatory.”

Sanchez supports the Peace In Our Streets initiative. “The more that the public is aware that this is anonymous, they’ll come forward,” she said. “But too many times the people who witness crimes are afraid. We need to take that fear away.”

Posted in Bronx Beats, Crime, Featured, Southern BronxComments (0)

Officials push for new hotel near Yankee Stadium, Daily News reports

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced a new plan to transform an underused parking garage near Yankee Stadium into a hotel. The project will be in conjuction with the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp, the New York Daily News reports.

The site renovation, at E 153rd Street and River Avenue, will not only create jobs and offer tourists a more upscale place to stay near the stadium, Diaz said at a press conference, but will also bring in revenue for Bronx Parking, the nonprofit parking firm.

The parking garage in question was empty during the news conference, the Daily News notes, even though it was only two hours from the first pitch.

Development Corporation President Marlene Cintron said she expects a hotel to create more than 125 jobs and kick start other development in the area. The group is accepting building proposals until mid-November, writes the Daily News.

Posted in NewswireComments (0)

Top Stories of the Day

New York flexes security muscle to foil 9/11 plot

Anti-terrorist security has been beefed up across New York, in an emphatic response to a possible car bombing on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. A New York Daily News report, based on “specific and credible” info, claims that the plot involves three veteran terrorists – one possibly with an American passport – approved by Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. It also quotes investigators saying that names of all three were known, but they were too common to provide much direction.

After 9/11, Anthrax Day in the Bronx

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will declare September 14 as Anthrax Day in the Bronx, The Bronx Times reports, when the band performs with heavy metal’s Big Four at Yankees Stadium on Wednesday night. Anthrax features three native Bronxites – Charlie Benante and Frank Bello from Throgs Neck, and Rob Caggiano from Pelham Parkway. But a Yahoo Music Blog points out that just four days later, on September 18, it will be the 10th anniversary of the anthrax attacks that killed five people in the days following 9/11.

She stuffed him in suitcase, stole his checks

Monique Exum, the woman who ‘buried’ her 73-year-old boyfriend in a suitcase, is now believed to have done it for the money. The New York Daily News reports that Exum, 36, stole Johnny Davis’ Social Security checks and bank funds for three months, till his packed corpse was discovered in Williamsbridge on Sunday.

Posted in NewswireComments (0)

Helping Love Gospel Assembly

By Amara Grautski and Connie Preti

Elected officials and more than 150 community members gathered at Lehman College Saturday afternoon to rally for Operation Restoration, a fundraiser to help rebuild the Love Gospel Assembly and restore the services it provided.

On July 25, the Grand Concourse church was gutted by a four-alarm fire, leaving thousands of the hungry people who were fed every month through its Love Kitchen to seek food elsewhere.  “It’s so important that we get back up and running, because there’s a whole community of people that depend on us,” said Love Gospel Assembly Bishop Ronald Bailey. “We’re feeding 300 to 400 people every day, somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 people a month. Those people need these services that we provide, so we’re trying to move quickly.”

During the two-hour event, the college’s Center for the Performing Arts was filled with song, prayer and testimonials about the church’s importance in the Fordham community.

Brian Draper, 53, told audience members that he has been a born-again Christian for about 15 years since finding the church. “When I first was going, I was only going for the physical food,” Draper said. “It was a way of physically staying fed because of my addiction. But God has such a sense of humor, you know, I’m thinking I’m just physically getting fed, but every time you get fed physically, there always always a word said, a prayer said or someone encouraging you. So then eventually, it was like a seed being watered…and eventually that seed grew into what I am today.”

The largest contribution came from State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada  Jr. and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, who presented a check of $100,000 from the state senate to a roaring crowd.  “An institution such as this provides so much to our communities, but more so plays a vital role in the economic crisis we are experiencing here,” Sampson said. “And the only way we are going to rise from that is through our faith, through institutions, churches like this, who extend beyond the four corners of those institutions.”

“We all know government and the faith have to work together,” Espada added. “God is everywhere.”

Bronx Borough President Rueben Diaz Jr. also spoke and contributed $1,000 to the cause.

Bailey said he believes the turnout from elected officials is evidence that the community cares about the work of the church.  “It’s good to get recognition, because it’s not about us, it’s about the work that we’re doing,” Bailey said. “So we thank them, we take the pat on the back and keep going.”

Love Gospel Assembly Deacon Tasha Andrews said the fire resulted in $150,000 worth of equipment damage alone. The church will continue to accept donations through its website: www.lgabronx.com.

Andrews said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, North Central BronxComments (1)

Bronx Walk in Search of Fame (hint: look up)

Bronx Walk of Fame signs on Grand Concourse

Bronx Walk of Fame signs on Grand Concourse (Photo by Ian Thomson/Bronx Ink)

While Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is known around the world, few people have heard of the Bronx counterpart, which stretches south along the Grand Concourse from 161st Street to 140th Street. Even many Bronxites, it seems, are unaware of the tourist attraction hovering from the street lights above their heads.

“I’ve never heard of it, and I pass here a lot,” said Louis Gonzalez, a resident of nearby High Bridge, as he waited for a bus outside the Bronx County Building — the very spot where the walk begins.

On May 23, the borough hosts its 14th annual induction ceremony where four Bronx-born public figures will see their names go up on signs as they join 82 existing inductees recognized for their lifetime achievements. Singer Jerry Vale, flautist Joanie Madden, former Congressman Herman Badillo and magazine founder Edward Lewis will be honored at the event, after which the quartet will serve as grand marshals for a parade along Mosholu Parkway to mark the end of Bronx Week 2010.

Doris Quinones, executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council, describes the ceremony as a “great Bronx Week tradition” that bestows the borough’s highest honor upon the inductees. Ruben Diaz Jr., the borough president, will unveil four signs to be placed on street lights at the intersection of Grand Concourse and 161st Street for one year before they are moved to a permanent place along the walk’s lengthening route.

This year’s additions will join a list including high-profile names like boxer Jake LaMotta, the subject of the Robert De Niro film “Raging Bull,” singer Luther Vandross, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

According to Quinones, of the Bronx Tourism Council, the president had pushed for changes to this year’s Bronx Week to increase the involvement of the local community. The May date, one month earlier than in previous years, allows children from more than 80 local schools to take part in the final day’s parade and help to raise awareness of an event that aims to celebrate the borough’s multicultural identity.

“The four inductees are such a beautiful reflection of the diversity of the Bronx,” Quinones said. “We place the signs high up for everyone to see and look up to.”

Still, it appears that many locals have yet to notice. Monique Clarke, a nurse at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, said she had never heard of the Bronx Walk of Fame despite living in the borough for her entire life. She laughed when the signs above her were brought to her attention.

“I didn’t even look up,” said Clarke, before offering her advice on how the walk could generate greater interest. “Al Pacino’s from the Bronx. They need to put him in there.” Pacino spent part of his childhood in the South Bronx.

The walk and other Bronx attractions are beginning to gather more attention, Quinones said.  “Writers are making reference to it,” she said. “They’re telling travelers to leave Manhattan otherwise you miss out on what the real New York is about. There are a growing number of people coming up to the Bronx.”

Out in the plaza on East 161st Street opposite Quinones’ office window, Dutch tourists Ilse Van Der Lei and Maike Kroese were reading their New York City guidebook and contemplating their next move. The two girls, visiting the city on vacation from Amsterdam in the Netherlands, said they wanted to escape from Manhattan to see New York’s other neighborhoods, but they too were unaware that the Walk of Fame started a few yards away from where they sat.

“It sounds like a good idea,” Van Der Lei said. “They should put it in Lonely Planet.”

Posted in UncategorizedComments (0)

Gains in National Job Figures Don’t Mean Bronx Resurgence

Gains in National Job Figures Don’t Mean Bronx Resurgence

Bronx residents line up outside a Workforce 1 job center in February. (Zabaneh/Bronx Ink)
Bronx residents lined up outside a Workforce 1 job center in February. (Zabaneh/Bronx Ink)

Story by Shreeya Sinha, Lynsey Chutel and Sunil Joshi

While the national jobs figure for March indicated that the country is on the path to economic recovery, the employment picture in the Bronx was not so sanguine. Unemployment in the borough remains several points above the national average, and thousands of residents are still unable to find work.

For more coverage of Bronx job hunters, click here.

Above the bustling business hub of 149th Street and Third Avenue, rows of almost 50 people sat on Thursday in a cordoned-off waiting room in the Workforce 1 office, looking for help from the Bronx branch of the citywide employment agency.

This was Veronica Eaddy’s second time at the “one-stop employment center.” With a soft round face under thick waves, in a casual jeans and T-shirt, Eaddy, who asked that her full name not be used, doesn’t look her age at 42. But the string of jobs she has tried her hand at reveal a long struggle with unemployment. “I’ve been through many systems where a job has been promised and nothing happened,” Eaddy said.

Nationwide, there may be reason for optimism after the jobs report revealed that the depressed economy may be turning around. The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Friday that 162,000 jobs were added to the national economy, though the nationwide unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent. But an increase in the national jobs number does not necessarily correlate to an increase in the number of jobs in the Bronx, said James Brown, an analyst with the New York Department of Labor. “There’s not a one-for-one increase,” he said. For Bronx job-seekers like Eaddy, economic struggles are still festering.

“You pretty much need a master’s degree to pick up the garbage,” said Eaddy, who feels that living in the Bronx has been a disadvantage for her. She’s spent the last seven years looking for a full-time job. Unemployment in the borough soared to 14 percent in January, well above the national average. Hunger and poverty are stark realities in the borough that is already struggling to compete with a higher-skilled workforce.

“That doesn’t bode well for the Bronx, which has a pretty high percentage of the local workforce that doesn’t have high levels of educational attainment,” said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, a research firm.

About half of Bronxites work outside the borough, Brown said. Many of these jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors are not only low-paying but largely dependent on consumer spending, which has sunk deeply in the recession. Analysts are hopeful that consumers will grudgingly start spending. Consumer spending picked up for the sixth month running in March.

“A lot of establishments are closing,’’ Eaddy said. “There aren’t many jobs that you could get if you come straight off school, like low-skilled jobs. And most of them can be pretty crap.”

Arthur Merlino, manager of Workforce 1, has worked in the labor market for 48 years, crisscrossing labor offices across the city’s five boroughs. After two years managing the Bronx branch, he admits that the borough poses a specific challenge. “This is a real serious time,” said Merlino, his eyes closing as he spoke. “I’d say, experientially it’s been a very difficult couple of years.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has made economic development and job creation a priority but critics have accused him of costing the Bronx thousands of jobs at a mall he opposed at the Kingsbridge Armory. Diaz opposed the project on the grounds that it would not provide Bronxites living wages. The City Council voted against the mall.

Franck Strongbow, associate director of the James Monroe Senior Center agreed with Diaz. After he spent eight months living “between a rock and a hard place,” Strongbow lived paycheck to paycheck when he was 25 years old trying to make ends meet. For him, a job is all about dignity. “What the borough president was saying was, “Let’s start with affordable living range because people should be paying an honest day’s labor.” According to the Center for Urban Future, 42 percent of the Bronx workforce is making less than $10 an hour.

The payroll company Automatic Data Processing said this week that U.S. employers cut 23,000 jobs in March, dampening expected forecasts ahead of Friday’s job report. Much of the nationwide growth in March was in temporary government jobs, particularly by the Census Bureau, which hired 48,000 temporary employees, according to the Department of Labor, including enough staff for four Census offices in the Bronx.

Elsewhere, there are signs of life in the borough’s jobs market. A coalition of construction workers in the Bronx said it has seen employment opportunities tick upward in March, with more activity on job sites. While the overall number of new building permits issued in the Bronx during the first three months of the year is down from 2009 — 44 to 18 — there were eight new building permits issued in the Bronx in March (up from four last year), according to the Department of Buildings. Richard Rodriguez, an administrator for United Hispanic Construction, said that his labor coalition was able to connect more workers with jobs in March, particularly with a new development on 163rd Street in Morrisania.

Despite the real-estate market’s more than two-year struggle, prices in Manhattan remain high, fueling new development in the outer boroughs, said Ken Margolies, director of organizing programs at the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations. But while Margolies noted the signs of improvement, he cautioned against unbridled optimism. “The key thing about the news,” he said, “is that, by and large, the new jobs that are being created pay less than the ones that are being lost.”

The manufacturing sector is another industry that saw accelerated growth in March, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a private trade group. In February about 11,000 jobs were created, the largest increase in almost four years. Other sectors like health care have also done well, especially after President Obama’s health care plan passed. In March, 27,000 new health care jobs were added to the national economy, according to the Department of Labor.

That’s where Eaddy hopes to try her luck. She’s optimistic that the health care reform will revitalize jobs in this sector. “Since there was such a push going on in public health, I think that a lot of jobs are going to start that I want to get into while the getting in is good,” she said. Eaddy is trying to secure a voucher from the New York State Department of Labor that will cover a six-month-long Medical Billing and Coding course at Hostos Community College. Waving a manila folder on Thursday, with the college brochure inside, she checked that she had all her documentation. She had been waiting for move than an hour for her 4 p.m. appointment.

While she waits for a steady job, Eaddy decided to start her own business. “Splendidly Me,” a cosmetic business that she runs out of her East 180th Street apartment, supplements her income. When she is not teaching customers how to make coconut oil or twist their hair, Eaddy is pinning her long-term hopes on the health care industry.

“Now I have to come back,” she said, “but this time I’m doing something smart with a marketable skill so that I can have some leverage.”

Posted in MoneyComments (0)

Page 1 of 212