Sunshine Week at BxNN: Freedom of Information Act

Today, as part of our Sunshine Week festivities, we’ve posted this lovely and melodic history of the Freedom of Information Act, signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1966 and then amended over the years as it suited certain presidents. Plus, it can also be used for putting babies to sleep. Enjoy. The information is out there!

Sunshine Week at BxNN: Harris Field's History of Contamination

This is a tale of the very type of government secrecy that we would like to see less of and that we are advocating for during Sunshine Week. In late fall of 2009, the Norwood News sent an inquisitive young intern named Megan Taylor to Harris Field in Bedford Park to see how the massive reconstruction of soccer and baseball fields was coming along. She came back with a scoop. Workers there told her construction had halted following the discovery of some kind of contamination.We immediately pressed the Parks Department for more details. What kind of contamination is it?

Bronx Tenants Storm Bank, Demand Building Repairs [VIDEO]

Tenants Rally at New York Community Bank from Bronx News Network on Vimeo.A group of Bronx tenants from a number of foreclosed, violation-riddled apartments have filed a lawsuit against the bank that owns the mortgage on their properties, hoping to hold the lender responsible for paying for repairs.The lawsuit was filed last Thursday on behalf of tenants by Legal Services NYC-Bronx, the Urban Justice Center, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board and NY Communities for Change.That same day, residents from the buildings and organizers rallied at a Manhattan branch of the New York Community Bank. They were turned away after asking to see the branch manager to make their case (see the video, above, for more from the scene.)”We don’t do those types of loans here,” the dismayed manager said, after closing the door to her office once protesters filed inside the bank’s lobby.”You have no idea what we’re going through, because you live fine,” responded Gennet Riley, a tenant who lives in one of the foreclosed buildings at 735 Bryant Avenue. “We’re here trying to let you understand that we care about our buildings. We just want you to acknowledge us.”The group then set up shop on the sidewalk outside, chanting, waving signs, and handing out photos of their crumbling apartments to confused passersby. One bank customer, after asking what the protest was about, promptly picked up a poster and started marching with the group.Tenants complain of long spells without heat and hot water, broken elevators that go unfixed, mold, leaking ceilings and scurrying vermin at the eight Bronx properties: 1221 Sheridan Ave; 1225 Sheridan Ave; 2265 Morris Ave; 2271 Morris Ave; 2345 Crotona Ave; 2350 Creston Ave; 3212 Cruger Ave; and 735 Bryant Ave.“When it rains, it’s leaking in my bathroom.

Return Kruger Money? No Way, Bronx Sen. Diaz Says

State Senator Ruben Diaz, Jr. is laughing off requests to return money contributed to his campaign by State Senator Carl Kruger, who is facing federal bribery charges. Diaz and Kruger are pals who made up half of the so-called ‘4 Amigos’ – including Hiram Monserrate (who was expelled from the Senate after assaulting his girlfriend), Pedro Espada (who Bronx voters returned to his real home in Mamaroneck when they elected Gustavo Rivera). Here’s some of what Diaz has to say:

'Ray of Hope' for Bronx Senior Centers

The Daily News reports today (article doesn’t seem to be available on their web site) that state legislators are proposing restoring $25 million in funding ti senior centers that Gov. Cuomo was planning to cut from the budget. The commissioner for the city’s Department for the Aging says if the state money is restored then she can absorb any city cuts and still keep the 105 targeted centers open, 22 of which are in the Bronx. For a Norwood News story on the potential closure of the Bedford Park Senior Center, click here.

Bronx News Roundup, March 15

Looks like mostly sun in the Bronx today with temperatures creeping toward 50. High chance of rain tonight and tomorrow before a blast of warm air hits on Thursday and Friday. To the news!Story of the Day: Bus Driver’s Shady Past Went UncheckedMore disturbing details are emerging about the checkered, trouble-filled past of Ophadell Williams, the driver of the tour bus that crashed into a sign pole on I-95 here in the Bronx, leading to questions (from victims and even the governor) about how he got the driving gig in the first place. Williams served two years on a manslaughter charge in the early 1990s and landed back in prison in 1998, serving four years for forgery. His driving privileges were suspended in 1995 after he ignored tickets for speeding and driving without a license.

Bronx Building Workers Reach Deal With Landlords

Averting a strike, Bronx building workers, represented by 32BJ, reached an agreement with landlords. Here’s an excerpt from the union’s press release. 32BJ and the Bronx Realty Advisory Board (BRAB) reached a tentative four-year agreement this evening for more than 3,000 apartment building workers that provides annual wage increases while maintaining employer-paid family health care and secured pension benefits. The agreement narrowly averted a strike, which would have affected 250,000 Bronx residents throughout the borough including Riverdale and the South Bronx.The whole agreement can be downloaded from the union’s web site here.