Bronx Politics

11th September
2008

Originally Published in The New York Sun, September 11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

The defeat suffered by the Bronx County Democratic organization, which lost every race in which it supported a candidate in Tuesday’s primary, may mean new leadership for the county party.

The organization was opposed by a so-called rainbow coalition of legislators, which includes prominent black, white, and Hispanic lawmakers from throughout the borough. That coalition is expected by political observers and activists to move quickly to depose the current Democratic leader, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, as soon as Monday night.

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15th August
2008

If you are dissatisfied with the political leadership in your community, I have a cure for you: come to the Bronx.

First Published in The New York Sun, August 15, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Maybe your elected officials are skimming from the town treasury, or perhaps they are cheating on their spouses. Perhaps they have sold their vote so that the DigWeMust Development Company can do their digging on your block. Or maybe they can be found driving through the streets on any given night with a blood alcohol content well above the legal limit.

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12th June
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, June 12, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

On a visit to Washington, D.C. many years ago, a slick advertising supplement fell out of my morning newspaper. It was for a store I had never heard of, but immediately wished there was a branch in the New York area. The booklet was filled with the kind of furniture that would appeal to people who appreciated modern design and incredibly low prices, in other words many New Yorkers like me.

So I celebrate the opening of the city’s first Ikea branch in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I had hoped that the store would come first to my home borough of the Bronx.

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28th March
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, March 28, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

Good government types are quick to limit and monitor contributions to political campaigns. After all, we don’t want Assemblyman Jones to be unduly influenced by the $250 contribution sent by Citizen Smith who works for a bank that just happens to have legislation pending before some committee on which the good Assemblyman serves.

The problem is that the real corruption occurs not when the money comes in, but rather when it goes out. Scrutiny of this may be the sea change that will come out of the remarkable events in Albany these past three weeks.

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11th January
2008

First Published in The New York Sun, January11, 2008

By Andrew Wolf

If you are looking for a reason why the economic good times in the city seem to have passed by the borough of the Bronx, events in recent days should offer some clues.

In a national atmosphere where the word of the day is change, in the Bronx, among the poorest places in the entire nation, the watchword is “more of the same.”

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29th October
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, October 29, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

One of the most intriguing figures in New York’s recent political history showed that he could still bring out a crowd - and some key officials - nearly 20 years after his own political career ended in the worst possible circumstances.

Mario Biaggi celebrated his 90th birthday Saturday evening surrounded by hundreds of family, friends, and admirers. Among those present were Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and his wife Veronica, Congressmen Charles Rangel and Peter King, Ambassador Charles Gargano, who formerly headed the Empire State Development Corp., and the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Long. Mayor Dinkins, who had an emergency appendectomy Friday, was scheduled to attend as well.

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18th May
2007

First Published by The New York Sun, May 18, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Last month, as the world marked Africa Malaria Day, a massive international campaign was mounted to fight the disease by donating mosquito nets to be placed around the beds of African children. Of course nets may protect the children some of the time, but malaria will take the lives of about two million in Africa each year.

In the developed world, we have largely eradicated malaria, largely because of a massive spraying effort that took place in the mid-20th century. The insecticide that was, and is, so effective at killing the mosquitoes that carry the disease is DDT. (more…)

9th April
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, April 9, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Despite the angry rhetoric being bandied about, charter school enthusiasts have every reason to be happy. The number of charters has been doubled. That’s a lot, considering that it took almost a decade to exhaust the 100 charters provided for by the initial legislation, some of the original charters proved to be awful, and the jury is out on many others.

The granting of a charter to run a school — at the taxpayer’s expense — is no small privilege. Young lives hang in the balance. Giving permission to some entity to educate children should be considered with the same seriousness with which we charter a hospital or health care facility. There’s a feeling out there that anyone can run a school, even lawyers or politicians, certainly the last people I would look to in any quest for excellence. (more…)

16th February
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, February 16, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

The president of the Bronx, Adolfo Carrion Jr., gave his state of the borough speech at Hostos Community College last Friday. He had a difficult job. It could be argued that things in the Bronx are better — at least better than they were in 1977 when Howard Cosell famously told the nation, “The Bronx is Burning.” But things in the borough are not good now and Mr. Carrion’s prescriptions hold little promise for a better future.

In 1977, when the city was bankrupt and crime was on the rise, the situation in the Bronx was just an extreme version of the rot afflicting the entire city. But New York City has bounced back. Mayor Koch provided inspired leadership that helped restore confidence and civic pride. Recent federal tax policies may have helped the city’s economy rebound, as did welfare reform a decade ago. Perhaps nothing was more significant to the city’s renaissance than the successful war on crime waged by Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg. The city coffers are now awash in cash. Even the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, failed to stop the momentum of the rebounding city. But the good times seem to have passed by the Bronx. (more…)

5th January
2007

First Published in The New York Sun, January 5, 2007

By Andrew Wolf

Over a year ago, I wrote, critically, about Majora Carter, the “Genius of Hunts Point.” She was declared as such by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. I now feel the need to revisit Ms. Carter. MacArthur “geniuses” are given a $500,000 prize to do with as they wish.

Ms. Carter runs an organization called “Sustainable South Bronx,” and her major achievement thus far is planting grass on the roof of the building that houses her office. Ms. Carter has found a press-friendly way to mix the politically correct concern with things environmental with some good old-fashioned charges of race-based victimization. Quoth she: “Poor communities of color are just as deserving of clean air, clean water and open space as wealthier ones.” (more…)

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