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New York City Says Bronx Pedestrian Pathway Lawsuit Should be Dismissed, Case is ‘Moot’

Car blocking crosswalk cut in the Mt. Eden Mall area. Churchill Ndonwie for the Bronx Ink.

New York City remains steadfast in its position that it did not violate Title II of the American Disabilities Act in the pedestrian pathway class action lawsuit filed by Disability Rights New York on behalf of Bronx residents Carlos and Stephanie Diaz. 

In its response to the lawsuit, the city stated the Diazes’ complaint of not being able to access their Mt. Eden Mall neighborhood because people parked illegally on their front street, did not include enough harm or injury to warrant getting relief from the court. It also argued that the Diazes neighborhood is generally accessible most of the time and asked the case be dismissed. 

“Nor does the Complaint plead how the alleged obstructions rise to the level of a violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. Instead, the Complaint merely generally alleges that a problem of accessibility to the pedestrian pathways in the Mt. Eden Mall area violates the ADA,” the city’s response stated.

The court filing comes after the federal government submitted a brief in the Diazes’ lawsuit that said the city’s interpretation of the American with Disabilities Rights was wrong and it must provide clear pedestrian pathways to all residents in the Mount Eden neighborhood of the Bronx.  

Carlos Diaz who has cerebral palsy and Stephanie Diaz who has loss of vision due to degenerative disease filed the lawsuit in June saying they were not able to access their Mount Eden neighborhood because of illegal parkers and placard abusers. 

This worsened after the department of transportation granted special Covid-19 placards for healthcare workers in 2020. 

The city now argues the Mt. Eden Mall neighborhood is a large area and the Diazes’ complaint did not document very specifically what type of obstruction they encountered, where they encountered it, how frequent it was and how long it lasted for it to be a violation of the ADA.

“Plaintiffs merely alleged general conditions and obstructions on the pedestrian pathways in the general Mt. Eden Mall area without specifying, at the very least, their locations within the area that includes many blocks, avenues and intersections,” their dismissal filing claims.

Stephanie Diaze shared with the court in June that she and her husband had submitted 25 311 incident reports regarding illegal parking and recorded at least 45 illegally parked vehicles in front of curb cuts January through March 2021 with specific locations on where the incidents took place. 

The city said that Diaze’s argument is not specific enough on pedestrian pathway obstructions and what harm they caused. They reiterated the Covid-19 healthcare parking permits mentioned in the case expired and the argument of it contributing to illegal parking is now “moot”. 

According to the city’s filing, under the New York Administrative Code, conditions of sidewalks are the adjacent properties owners responsibility. They stated not all the blocked pedestrian pathways mentioned in the complaint are specific enough to determine if the obstructions fall within the city’s pathway program. 

“Thus, viewing the City of New York’s pedestrian pathways in their entirety. The Complaint, which at best alleges a few random non specific grievances that even if true do not rise to the level of ADA violations, fails to state a claim under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act, and these claims should be dismissed.”  the filing stated.

Disability Rights New York et al v. City of New York et al is currently awaiting the judges ruling on dismissal.

Posted in Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Cars, Community Resources, Transportation0 Comments

AOC Town Hall Discusses Asylum Seekers, War in Ukraine and Post Office

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – NY 14th District) explains President Biden’s marijuana pardons at her town hall meeting in the Bronx. Churchill Ndonwie for the Bronx Ink.

A town hall held by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D – NY 14th District) Wednesday night in Pelham Parkway, addressed several issues including the war in Ukraine, immigration, gun rights and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

But for Bronxite Daina Finch, 68, being able to utilize her local post office was her priority. 

“Locally, we’ve just had so much trouble with our post offices being understaffed and underfunded,” she said. Her question to Ocasio-Cortez was an update on Postmaster Louis DeJoy who was appointed by USPS Board of Governors under former President Trump to lead the agency.

On March 23, 2021, Dejoy announced the Delivering for America plan, a 10 year plan to help the agency out of its $160B projected debt and “achieve financial sustainability and service excellence.” Since implemented, the USPS has consolidated its districts from 67 to 50 and in July, Dejoy said he plans to cut the USPS workforce by 50,000. 

For Finch, this would impact her publishing business that relies heavily on mailing. 

“Fewer people at the post office, which means longer lines,” she said. 

“It all feeds on itself. if you’re understaffed, then people have to wait in lines, and it’s harder for them to do business” she continued. 

Ocasio-Cortez is part of a subcommittee within the congressional oversight committee whose scope includes the USPS. “I think it’s an issue that’s not getting enough attention,” Ocasio-Cortez  said.

 “And it’s, it’s really concerning, because we’ve seen both how much postal services are relied on, but how much they are under invested in our community, especially this neck of the woods, in this part of the Bronx,” she said.

The almost two-hour town hall was interrupted at times by protesters who did not agree with Ocasio-Cortez’s stands on the war in Ukraine and the migrants’ housing in New York City. 

“None of this matters unless there’s a nuclear war, which you voted to send arms and weapons to Ukraine…..You originally voted — ran as an outsider yet you have been voting to start this war in Ukraine. You are voting to start a third war with Russia and China, ” a protester shouted from the audience regarding the representative voting for military and financial aid to be sent to Ukraine. 

“I believed in you and you became the very thing you said you’ll fight against,” another protester erupted from the audience. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Town Hall interrupted by Anti War Protesters

Ocasio-Cortez also announced she is working with the office of Mayor Eric Adams to complete a federal Housing & Development grant program application that would help with the City’s housing crisis. “We need more housing and we need that housing to be for us. It shouldn’t be for Wall Street. It shouldn’t be for people who are trying to squeeze us every single time for rent. And we need to make sure that the city is affordable,” she said.

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Politics0 Comments

Bronx Community Leaders Reach Out to Communities of Color Disproportionately Affected by Monkeypox

Community members grab sanitary products from NYC Health during a Monkeypox outreach event. Churchill Ndonwie for the Bronx Inc.

Bronx community leaders gathered for a night of Monkeypox outreach Wednesday, to raise awareness about the spread of Monkeypox in the Bronx and address the disproportionate impact the disease has on Black and Latino communities.

Members of the community were given information about vaccination resources and educational pamphlets on how to protect themselves from Monkeypox. They were also given condoms, sanitary products and encouraged to seek care if they feel sick or identify a rash or sore.

“We know that inequities continue to exist. The numbers within our communities, particularly communities of color among African American and Latino men are still high when compared to other groups” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson, who’s office hosted the event in partnership with the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, Third Avenue Business Improvement District, NYC Health and Destination Tomorrow.

Though cases are beginning to decline citywide, latest data from New York Health as of September 18 shows 632 of the identified 3480 citywide cases are in the Bronx. And of those citywide cases, 60% are among Blacks and Hispanics, the majority demographic group of the Bronx. 

“Lot of people out there haven’t been able to get the education that they desperately need in order to understand and take the steps that are necessary to protect and prevent from being harmed by it” said Sage Rivera, Chief Development Program Officer for Destination Tomorrow, a grassroots agency and the LGBTQ+ center for the Bronx borough. The center also serves as a first dose Monkeypox vaccination site.

Rivera also talked about the importance of not falling prey to stigmatization against a certain community because they are the most affected. “It’s very, very easy to fall into the trap of what’s going on, because it’s been so prevalent amongst people of color, and affecting so much the LGBTQ community. This is a skin to skin contact disease, plain and simple,” he said.

On July 18, the five Borough Presidents sent a joint letter to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky demanding more Monkeypox vaccines be sent to New York City. Latest New York Health data shows 95,345 doses have been administered citywide with 5,639 doses administered in the Bronx. About a third of the citywide  doses were administered to those identifying as Black or Hispanic. 

“We do know that access is an issue. So we want to get more vaccination sites,” said Anita Reyes, Assistant Commissioner, Bronx Neighborhood Health, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

New York City Health recently opened a Tremont Monkeypox vaccination clinic in the Bronx. The clinic, located at 1826 Arthur Ave., is open to the public for first dose vaccination walk-ins. 

“I think that health is an issue that is still not spoken about enough in the Bronx….Monkeypox is just something that is making a lot of people question what makes them feel safe and healthy in a community, especially for the LGBTQ community,” said Cecil Brooks, a long time Mott Haven resident. 

“If we have enough people who are fighting misinformation, and know what resources are available, then we can do our small part to make the South Bronx an even better and more welcoming space,” Brooks said.

Posted in Bronx Life, Community Resources, Health0 Comments

Bronx Borough President and members of the NYPD/FDNY take a photo

A Day Of Remembrance Commemorates The 144 Bronx Lives Lost On September 11

Members of the NYPD and FDNY gathered with Vanessa L. Gibson, Bronx Borough President at the annual Bronx 9/11 day of remembrance. Churchill Ndonwie for the Bronx Ink.

The Office of the Bronx Borough President and the Bronx Supreme Court co-hosted “A Day of Remembrance” on Tuesday, commemorating the lives of the 144 Bronx residents lost during the September 11 terrorist attacks. The event took place at Lou Gehrig Plaza where Vanessa L. Gibson, Bronx Borough President, was in attendance.

“Oftentimes, they say time heals all wounds but we know it does not. But guess what? We carry on in their honor, we carry on their legacy, because we are a living testament of what happens when we work together as a county and as a city and as a community,” said Gibson.

Members of the community who lost loved ones joined the ceremony.

Harry Powell, 76, a retired inspector for the New York Housing Authority lost his son, Brandon Powell, that day. Powell, 26, was a cook on the 122th floor of the North Tower. 

“At 4:30 in the morning, he left the house. And he was never late….he was always a pleasant kid. He gave me no trouble. I had texts from people as far as Japan, saying they liked his smile” Powell said. 

Powell was joined by his friend, Theresa Noel, 69, who also lost her son Curtis Terrance Noel. He was 22. His girlfriend Aisha Anne Harris died in the attacks as well. 

“That day when the plane hit the building, he told me that they were all okay but he lied to me. They were trapped, he didn’t tell me, so I didn’t know. 13 of them trapped in that office, perish,” Noel said as she grabbed a picture from his memorial service. “He kept us laughing,” she added. 

Also present were members of the NYPD, FDNY, community and religious leaders who all reinforced the importance of unity, community and togetherness. 

“This is as much a story of resilience as it is one of grief and loss,” said FDNY Commissioner Keechant. L. Sewell.

The names of the lives lost from the Bronx were read out loud, each followed by the ringing of a bell. 

“The deaths of our loved ones will never be in vain,” said Gibson.

Posted in Bronx Beats, Bronx Life, Bronx Neighborhoods, Police0 Comments