Monday, February 28, 2011

Serranos Honor Local Leaders in Celebration of Black History Month

Bronx, NY -- State Senator José M. Serrano and Congressman José E. Serrano today (Friday February 25th)honored outstanding local leaders in their annual celebration of Black History Month.

The honorees were Vanessa L. Gibson, New York State Assemblywoman for the 77th District; Leroy "Archie" Archible, Community Activist and KoreanWar Veteran; Dorothy DeSuzia, Former President and Board Member of the Concourse Village Apartments; and Demetrius McCord, Deputy Executive Director of the Bronx Community Pride Center. Each honoree received a Congressional Record Statement and a New York State Senate Proclamation.

The event also featured a performance by Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force member Christine Campbell, entitled "Tribute to Our Ancestors." The performance honored the Harlem African Burial Ground, which residents and community leaders fear might be lost or defiled due to ongoing work expanding the Willis Avenue bridge and a plan, to begin in 2015, to entirely rebuild the bus depot at that location.

"As we experience difficult times, both around the world and right here in our own neighborhoods, it is an honor to acknowledge these outstanding civic leaders, who inspire our communities to meet challenges head on and to thrive in the face of adversity," said Senator Serrano. "The contributions made by Assemblywoman Gibson, Mr. Archible, Ms. DeSuzia, and Mr. McCord, should be celebrated, not just once a year, but serve as a daily example of dedication to service and to building stronger neighborhoods, and a stronger New York."

"I relish the chance to recognize these fantastic Bronx leaders," said Congressman Serrano. "As we celebrate the contributions of black Americans to our nation and culture this month, it was fitting that we pay tribute to the contributions of local leaders doing their part to uplift the community. Our small tribute to their work is a token of what our community owes them for all that they have done. Our nation was built not just by the national leaders you read about in books but also by the people who diligently built local communities and helped those in need. We have fine examples of those sort of people here with us today."

NYS Senator Serrano Manhattan and Bronx Constituents Hours

For those interested in meeting with NYS Senator Serrano to discuss local issues, please see his constituent hours below;


Please visit Senator Serrano's District Office to voice your concerns, ask questions, or share your ideas on how we can continue to improve our community!

District Office

9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
157 E. 104th Street (at Lexington)
First Floor
New York, NY 10029
(212) 828-5829

Bronx Constituent Hours

Bronx Constituent Hours take place the Third Monday of each month, aside from regular office hours in Senator Serrano's District Office.

Upcoming Dates:

Monday, February 28, 2011
3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
High Bridge Library
78 West 168th Street
Bronx, NY 10452

Monday, March 21, 2011
11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
Mitchel Houses Senior Center
188 Lincoln Avenue
Bronx, NY 10454

BoogieDowner Street Art: Graffiti Art in Hunts Point

The Bronx is world known for its graffiti. As a real estate broker driving around the borough, I often come across legal Graffiti that needs some appreciation. Here is a piece located in Hunts Point on the corner of Barretto and Garrison. The artists ID can be deciphered from the photo below.


Here is another step in the right direction by our Comptroller. Comptroller Liu is advocating for annual elections of board members for firms that NYC Pension Funds invest in. The ability of shareholders to elect board members increases shareholder oversight of the corporations. So far Capital One Financial Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. have agreed to endorse the change.


Capital One, Adobe Agree to Significant Change in Election of Board Directors
NEW YORK, NY – Comptroller John C. Liu today announced that Capital One Financial Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc. have agreed to support annual elections for their board directors in a move that will improve shareholder oversight of their operations. The NYC Pension Funds had called on the firms in a shareholder resolution to reform their annual elections.

Currently, their boards protect the status quo by having directors serve staggered terms with elections at different intervals. These so-called “classified” or “staggered” boards can stifle the voices of shareholders and make it nearly impossible to replace a board majority. They can prevent takeovers that directors and management may oppose even when a majority of shareholders support the transaction.

“Staggered boards protect the interests of corporate directors and make it difficult for shareholders to hold individual directors accountable for poor performance,” Comptroller Liu said. “The boards of Capital One and Adobe Systems should be commended for taking steps to ensure that their directors answer to shareholders on an annual basis. They are leading by example. This reform should inspire other firms should make the same changes to reduce financial risk that is counter to the interests of our pensioners and taxpayers.”

Capital One and Adobe must still obtain a majority of shareholders’ approval at their spring meetings to make the switch to annual elections for all board members. Because the firms have agreed to endorse the change at their spring meetings, the NYC Pension Funds’ withdrew its resolution from consideration.

The Pension Funds also submitted the shareholder request to Alere Inc. (NYSE: ALR), Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) and Neurocrine BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NBIX), which all maintain staggered boards. The request will be voted on during the firms’ spring shareholder meetings.

The New York City Comptroller serves as the investment advisor to, custodian and trustee of the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are the: New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, and Board of Education Retirement System. The New York City Pension Funds hold a combined 5,324,806 total shares in Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE), Alere Inc. (NYSE: ALR), Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE: COF), Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) and Neurocrine BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NBIX) for a combined asset value of $216,035,826.71 as of 02/22/2011.


NYC COBA President Norman Seabrook and Local Community Members Honored

BRONX, NY – In celebration of Black History Month, State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/ Westchester) hosted a complimentary breakfast at Villa Barone Catering Hall Saturday morning. Norman I. Seabrook, President of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association delivered the keynote address. This year's celebration also honored everyday heroes from the education, business, civic and law enforcement communities. Honorees included: Monica Major, President of District 11 Community Education Council; Gregory Perry, President of the Westchester Square Merchants Association; Yolanda Robinson, Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Mount Vernon; Officer Jay Sturdivant of the NYPD’s 49th Precinct's Community Affairs Division; and Al J. Everett, Deputy Chief of the Mount Vernon Fire Department.

“It is easy to recognize the significant contributions of African-Americans to the rich cultural fabric of our communities. African Americans have played a significant role in shaping both our national history and our magnificent city - whether in the classroom, on the beat, running businesses or in their dedication to public service and safety. It has been my great privilege to work with these exemplary members of our community that I consider everyday heroes - committed to working tirelessly for the benefit of us all,” said Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/ Westchester).

"I am honored to join Senator Klein and distinguished leaders from our communities in the Bronx to celebrate not just Black History month, but Black future everyday moving forward. We're proud to support those individuals who work diligently every day and who make countless sacrifices to make a positive difference in the lives of all of us no matter where they come from," said Norman I. Seabrook, President of the New York City Correction Officers' Benevolent Association.

In addition, honorees and members of the community enjoyed a special live performance by the Trinity Baptist Church Choir.

Norman I. Seabrook is President of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, which is the largest municipal jail union in the nation and second largest law enforcement union in New York City. President Seabrook was elected in 1995 by an overwhelming margin and achieved unprecedented accomplishments on behalf of Corrections Officers during his first term in office. He was re-elected in 1999, 2004 and 2008. President Seabrook has received many honors and prestigious appointments for his advocacy on behalf of men and women in civil service nationwide. He is a graduate of Empire State College and a life-long resident of the Bronx.

Monica Major, a life-long Bronx resident and education advocate, has served on the District 11 Community Education Council for four years, including two as President. She was the chairperson of the Student Achievement Committee and a member of the Zoning Committee. During her tenure, District 11 has successfully moved to a middle school choice district. Major serves on the DOE Panel for Educational Policy. She is a graduate of Baruch College and the proud mother of two children.

Gregory Perry is the President of the Westchester Square Merchants Association and former President of the Business Network International Platinum Chapter. Perry attended City College of New York where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a concentration in Health. His academic teaching tenure has spanned over three decades, educating young men and women on the college level. Perry is the proud owner of Crown Trophy in the Bronx.

Yolanda Robinson is currently the Chief of Staff for the City of Mount Vernon. She is in charge of day-to-day operations of the city. During her tenure as Chief of Staff, Robinson has worked tirelessly to enhance efficiency, technology, safety and cost cutting measures at City Hall. Robinson has twenty years of public/ government relations and broadcasting experience. She served as Deputy Chief of Staff for NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, publicist for Westchester County Board of Legislators and former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro. Yolanda was also the first African American Reporter/ Anchor for News 12 Westchester.

Officer Jay Sturdivant has served as a police officer with the NYPD for over a decade and is no stranger to the 49th Precinct, having worked in the Commands Housing developments since 2003. In March of 2010, Officer Sturdivant was appointed to Community Affairs Officer. Sturdivant is the first African American in the history of the 49th Precinct to hold this position. While serving in this capacity, he worked as a community liaison in the public housing developments which included Pelham Parkway Houses, Eastchester Gardens, Parkside Houses and 2440 Boston Road, a senior citizen development.

Al J. Everett is the Deputy Chief of the Mount Vernon Fire Department. Everett has been involved in politics from an early age when his grandmother had him working as a member of the Junior NAACP handing out literature for candidates in the 1960 Presidential Election. In 1980, he became a member of the Mount Vernon Fire Department. Everett recalled during his first month on the job being told by someone that they had never seen a black firefighter. It was at that moment Al decided to turn things around. He became a member of the Vulcan Society of Westchester, a group of black firefighters dedicated to increasing the number of all minorities in the fire service. He has held every position on the executive board of the Vulcans of Westchester, increasing minority representation in Mount Vernon’s Fire Department from five to seventy. He is a lifetime member of the NAACP and a former Vice President of the Mount Vernon School’s Board of Education.

(Photo: Greg Perry, Monica Major, Senator Klein, Officer Jay Sturdivant, Yolanda Robinson, Deputy Chief Al Everett and Keynote Speaker Norman Seabrook)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Greatest Video Ever on Bronx Pride: Bronx Marks the Spot

Below is one of the best videos ever made on "Bronx Pride". It was produced by Bronxnet and shown during the Bronx Borough Presidents Annual Address last week. Besides the the hair chilling music track that combines opera and rap, it hosts dozens of Bronxites like Al Pacino, Ralph Lauren, Doris Roberts, Grand Master Mele Mel, Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor and even Edgar Allen Poe. For anyone with roots in the Bronx who is sick and tired of negative depictions and maligning comments about our beloved Borough, I guarantee it will fill you with Bronx Pride.



American Workers Vs Multi-Billionaires: Hip Hop Video made at the Madison, Wisconsin Demonstrations

It's been a month and about 18,000 articles read on the Boogiedowner since Lou and Erin turned the site over to me. Part of the "master plan" is to introduce additional bloggers increasing coverage, experiences and opinions represented.

The first additional “BoogieDowner blogger” is a precocious young Latina born and raised in the Bronx. Her name is Desiree. An award wining playwright, she is a success story of a mixed NYC public and private school education and her mother that raised her. After attending PS31 for kindergarten, she attended Trevor Day School in Manhattan and then entered Bronx High School of Science in the ninth grade. She is currently a second semester freshman at Bard Early College at Simon's Rock. She is majoring in Political Science and Economics, however her favorite class is Chinese language. I am sure she will make waves of her own as she matures. I am also certain that she will one day do great things for the Bronx. She will be handling much of the youth related issues, however her first post relates to her major of Political Science. It is with great pride that I introduce one of the stellar youth of our borough as a member of the BoogieDowner team. Please read her post below and view this great video sent by one of our readers. The only issue I have with the rap commentary is the rapper wearing a Red Sox cap during segments of the video. Please do forgive him for this and enjoy his commentary regardless.


First Post by additional Boogiedowner Blogger; Desiree

Below is the first hip hop video made at the Madison, Wisconsin demonstrations. Based on the information I currently have, they are protesting a proposal by the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, that disables much of the bargaining power of the Wisconsin public employee unions and simultaneously imposes pay cuts on state workers by rerouting more of their paychecks towards health care and pension plans.

Although no one has been arrested yet, tension is high at the capitol as supporters flood in. At last check the demonstrators numbered over 70,000. This protest will affect us all, including here in the Bronx. It is an exemplary display of democracy in action. People need to continue to peacefully demonstrate for lasting reform and exercise their rights as American citizens to have a say in their governance.

All the best to those in Wisconsin. You are not alone.


Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

As Black History Month comes to an end I wanted to post the following written by Martin Luther King Jr. He wrote this letter during his incarceration in a Birmingham Jail back in 1963. I have often heard parts of the speech or read parts of the letter, but never took the time to read it thoroughly. Thank you, to the reader that sent the e-mail.

King, Martin Luther. Why We Can't Wait. New York: Signet Classics, 2000.

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"
16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants--for example, to remove the stores' humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies--a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle--have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger-lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

BoogieDowner Real Estate 101: SHORT SALE (10465 ZIP)

As a NYS Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker, I hope to not only occasionally post Bronx Real Estate for sale or rent, but to also share my knowledge about the industry and local market trends using real life examples or situations. The information will be “front line” practical knowledge gained from hands on experiences. I hope the posts will be concise, easy to understand, and interesting. I hope they are informative for potential buyers and those just interested in keeping up with various real estate related topics. Today’s topic is the much discussed SHORT SALE.

Any realty office in today’s market is inundated with clients calling up seeking the infamous “Short Sale”. A short sale is when the present owner, or seller, goes into contract with a buyer on the contingency that the bank will allow the property to be sold for less than the outstanding mortgage balance. There are enough variables to deal with in any real estate transaction, so each contingency is another variable that could “break” a deal. The most common contingency in any real estate contracts is the mortgage contingency which is often enough of a hurdle with how banks are lending money in today’s market. Having an additional contingency were a bank accepts less than the mortgage amount for the sale of a property is another issue to deal with that demands time, patience and finesse. The bureaucracy involved in many of these deals is endless. To be honest it’s often not worth the hassle to someone unless they have a place to live and can, “play the game”, with the bank. Because of the uncertainty and the time factor, these deals are often pursued by professional “flippers” who don’t really need a house to live in and can, “play the game”, with the banks. In addition, the banks do love the all cash buyers, again favoring the “flipper”, since many of the short sales need work before the property is livable and therefore not mortgable in their present condition. The 203K loan is the solution, but an individual needs to be aware of this type of loan and which banks provide them. In order to actually close on a short sale the deal must be “seasoned” and the buyer or agent must know what the bank will accept based on norms, trends and guidelines in the banking industry. This is where a good realtor or broker can make the difference. In any event, with the banking industry in its present condition, nothing is guaranteed.

The property below is a real life example of a one family home in Throggs Neck that is “seasoned” and ready to go. The property sold for $420,000 on 10/24/2006. The mortgage on the property at the time of sale was $398,500. The present asking by the bank is $325,000 in “as is” condition. The house needs about $40,000 to $50,000 to restore it to it’s prime condition. At the present full asking of $325,000 with a 5% interest rate over 30 years and no money down, the monthly mortgage would be approximately $1,750 per month.

The property is a 1920 one family detached frame house on a 25 x 100 lot with a driveway to park your car(s) and a large back yard; great for the kids or family barbeques. It’s located in a coveted residential neighborhood in the 10465 zip code. Current annual taxes, not including exemptions are $2,776. The interior layout is as follows;

First floor: Foyer, living room, kitchen leading to small patio. Patio needs to be replaced.
Second floor: Two bedrooms with full bathroom
Third floor: Finished pitched roof living space, good for an extra bedroom room or office.
Basement: Above ground finished basement including one bedroom, living room, kitchen, laundry room and boiler room.

Additional stats include:

Lot size: 25 x 100 / Regular
Building Size: 16 x 30
Building Sq Feet: 960
(Attic and basement are not included in house sq. footage)
Far / Max Far: .420 / 0.600

The above property is listed with another agent who represents the seller. If interested in the property and you want me to represent you as a buyers agent please me on my cell @ (845) 304-5745 or e-mail me at; As mentioned the property is “seasoned” and ready to go with a $325,000 asking. My hope is that the opportunity is picked up by someone looking for a good deal instead of an investor looking to flip the property. The commission will be paid by the seller even though I will be exclusively representing the buyer.

Gregory Tsougranis
NYS Licensed Associate Broker
Century 21 Metro-Star
2017 Williamsbridge Road
Bronx, NY 10461
Cell # (845) 304-5745
Office # (718) 794-2327
E-fax: (646) 417-5593

Friday, February 25, 2011

325 E 201st #4B Up for Sale: 2BR/1Bath Co-op Asking $199,999

Looks like Christmas came early this year. For those interested in moving into 325 E 201st, Erin and Lou's old co-op apartment building in the Bronx, another 2BR/1Bath just came on the market. It will be available to preview within the next few days. I am not the listing agent but those interested in having me as their buyers agent in the transaction please do reach out to me on my cell # at (845) 304-5745, or e-mail me at bronxrealesate@yahoo. As mentioned in earlier posts this is one of the strongest co-op buildings in the Bronx, with low monthly maintenance fees and high owner occupancy. The unit is priced properly, selling below the original purchase price and within latest comparable sale prices. It should be available for preview in the next few days. Below are some bullet points, photos and the description, as advertised by the listing agent. Additional sale points include it being an elevator building allowing pets.

*2 Bedroom, 1 Bath co-op unit
*Asking: $199,999
*Monthly Maintenance: ONLY $675
*Square Footage: 1,100 sq feet
*Pet Policy: Pet Friendly
*Laundry room: Yes
*Parking: Yes - Waitlist

"Spacious two bedroom. Move in ready. Recently upgraded. Hardwood floors. Ample closet space. Pet friendly building. On-site laundry. Underground parking (wait list). Close to transportation, schools, shopping, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, Fordham University, Lehman College, Bronx High School of Science and Dewitt Clinton High School."

Gregory Tsougranis
Associate Broker
Century 21 Metro-Star
2017 Williamsbriidge Road
Bronx, NY 10461
Cell: (845) 304-5745
Office: (718) 794-2327
E-fax: (646) 417-5593

NY Councilwoman Quinn vs. NYS State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz Sr. on Anti-abortion Soho Billboard

Many of you have heard about the anti-abortion billboard that was posted in Chelsea recently. I believe there are two questions here. The first issue relates to abortion and its place in our society? The second is whether or not the billboard was a protest against abortion within acceptable social guidelines? Abortion is a serious issue that I hope never to confront personally. I see both sides and am truly torn by the issue.

The closest I ever came to first hand experience with abortion was when I was traveling in Eastern Europe during their economic crises, after the collapse of communism in the early 1990's. Due to the dysfunction in the society, at that time, I was placed in a room where abortions were carried out even though I only had an ear infection. In the center of room was an apparatus were the women would sit during their procedure. Till this day I can still feel the horrific feeling in that room that made me want to vomit. It was clear from conversations with the staff and doctor that the economic crises had caused a great spike in abortions. NYS Senator Diaz Sr. states an alarming statistic below claiming 49 percent of NYC Hispanic and 59 percent of NYC Black pregnancies are aborted. I find those statistics alarming and wonder how much of those abortions were due to economic realities Bronx women find themselves in, much like the women in Eastern Europe faced at that time? The individual is always responsible for their actions, however if this is truly a genocide what is our society doing to prevent women who find themselves in economic situations that I am sure heavily weigh on their decision to have an abortion? What social polices can we put in place to economically empower women, or the family structure they depend upon once blessed with a child. Is abortion solely a moral question?

Below are two press releases representing pro and anti abortion voices in our City. The first is a quote from NYC Council Speaker Quinn. The Second is from NYS Senator Diaz Sr. Please do review and let me know via your comments what the Bronx thinks about both questions raised.


NEW YORK, NY 10007
February 23, 2011
Release # 021-2011
Statement by Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Re: Anti-Abortion Billboard in Soho

“This billboard is nothing but a pathetic attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood. To refer to a woman’s legal right to an abortion as a ‘genocidal plot’ is not only absurd but it is offensive to women and to communities of color. Every woman deserves the right to make healthcare decisions for herself and I will continue to fight to protect this basic right and against this sort of fear mongering. What’s more unfortunate is that this billboard directs women to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are non-medical facilities that often mislead women about both their reproductive health and their reproductive rights. To give women as much information as possible about their own heath, I fully support local legislation to require Crisis Pregnancy Centers to clearly post what services they offer. Offensive rhetoric and deceptive actions against a woman’s right to choose will not be tolerated in our city.”

February 23, 2011

The Truth about Genocide
by New York State Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz

This weekend I read an article online “Caution should be used when using the word 'genocide” which gives short shrift to blatant examples of genocide. The author left out reference to the history of abortion and the fact that Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger was a proud racist and advocate of genocide by abortion.

Genocide is an ugly term used to define the evil, deliberate and systemic approach to the eradication of an ethnically, racially or religiously identifiable group. The UN’s definition of genocide includes “measures intended to prevent births within the group”.

49 percent of New York City’s Hispanic pregnancies are aborted every year. 59 percent of New York City’s Black pregnancies are aborted every year. These statistics are staggering, and it is nothing less than responsible to use the term genocide to define what is happening to our children’s lives.

Perhaps some prefer to reserve the term genocide for circumstances like the systematic slaughter of ethnic groups as seen in Armenia, Rwanda and Cambodia’s killing fields. Nevertheless, the evil behind this term can also apply to the victims of the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiments on Black men whose lives were eliminated without the use of bullets or machetes, but with the insidious use of medical practitioners. And it also applies to the institution of abortion in the US, fulfilling Margaret Sanger’s goal to reduce Blacks and other "unworthy" lives in this country.

As part of her “Negro Project” and other such programs, she hoped that “(S)uch a plan would ... reduce the birthrate among the diseased, the sickly, the poverty stricken and anti-social classes, elements unable to provide for themselves, and the burden of which we are all forced to carry.”

While pro-abortion advocates will fall back on the changing legal definitions of what is a person, Margaret Sanger had no problem heading off the problem before these unborn Black and unborn “socially undesirable” lives started being born, started going to schools and started living in our communities.

Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is on record stating: "I can remember the days when Jesse Jackson was pro-life, and he went across the country calling abortion genocide….I personally believe that any leader, especially African-American leaders -- and I can say this because I'm African-American -- should be compelled to remember the days of slavery and to remember their responsibility toward the children we call the unborn. They are real people too, and they actually have civil rights."

Like the growing number of pro-life Democrats, I will not be silent about genocide against Hispanic and Black children in New York City or anywhere in the US. I welcome all to join us in this effort.

Event Reminder: Opening Performance of "Night Watch" Presented by the City Island Theatre Group Tonight

Please see the event flyer and letter to the public from CITG's President Mr. Nick Sala. It should be a great night out and don't forget about the great restaurants we have on City Island.


Dear Friends and Theater Lovers,
I hope you all are well and have been keeping warm this very cold winter. I am pleased to say that tonight night, the City Island Theater Group kicks off its 12th season, with the classic thriller NIGHT WATCH by Lucille Fletcher. For the past 6 weeks, the cast and crew have been hard at work rehearsing this gripping suspenseful psycho-thriller that tells the story of Elaine, a young heiress who sees the bodies of murdered victims in the window of the building directly across for her apartment. Is this all in her mind? Is someone trying to scare her? Is there a vicious murderer roaming her neighborhood? This production is guaranteed to take the audience on a gripping ride as they witness her spiraling descent into madness and constant fear. The ending promises to leave theatergoers on the edge. There are only six performances of NIGHT WATCH! Call 718/885-3066 or e-mail now to reserve your tickets. Our performance dates are February 25, 26, March 3, 4, 5 at 8:00 p.m. and February 27 at 3:00 p.m. Don’t miss this haunting roller coaster of a thriller!
On a final note, as we enter our 12th season of bringing quality affordable theater to City Island, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support. As you know, a lot of effort, time and hard work goes into making these shows happen, but we could not do this without you, the audience. We appreciate your support and we look forward to performing for you. Thank you for making us a part of your lives and for gathering in our theater to be a part of a unique, memorable experience that cannot be repeated. That is the beauty of the theater.
I look forward to seeing you all at the theater.
Nick Sala
City Island Theater Group


With Black History Month coming to an end here is one more Bronx politician doing his part before its conclusion. Please see press release below.

NYC COBA President Norman Seabrook to Give Keynote Address, Local Community Members Honored

BRONX, NY - In celebration of Black History Month, State Senator Jeff Klein (D- Bronx/ Westchester) will host a complimentary breakfast at Villa Barone Catering Hall to honor everyday heroes. President of the New York City Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, Norman I. Seabrook will deliver the keynote address. In addition, Klein will be honoring distinguished members of the civic, business and law enforcement community. Honorees and members of the community will enjoy a live performance by the Trinity Baptist Church Choir.

WHO: Senator Klein, Norman Seabrook and honorees
WHAT: Black History Month Celebration Breakfast
WHERE: Villa Barone Catering Hall, 737 Throggs Neck Expressway, Bronx

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photo Gallery of Today’s 2011 State of the Borough Address by Bronx Brought President Ruben Diaz Jr.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. came out like a rock star today to address a full house at DeWitt Clinton High School. The audience for his 2011 State of the Borough Address included political figures, business men and women, community activists and everyday people curious to see what the Borough President had to say. It was a strong show of solidarity and pride by our Borough with a great introduction video prepared by Bronxnet showing various stars born or raised in the Bronx. Please see below photos taken from the event.



Here is more on the debate related to Charter schools in our community. The following was sent by NYC Councilman Koppel’s office. Councilman Koppel is fighting against the application process he believes is unfair to immigrants and other non-English speaking learners, as well as increased input by the community.


Disturbed by what he heard at the DOE’s presentation on February 16th about the new charter high schools on the Kennedy Campus, Council Member Oliver Koppell met with the Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg on February 22nd to reiterate his concerns that the new schools will enroll few, if any, of the increasing numbers of new immigrants and other English language learners in the district. The meeting was also attended by Elizabeth Ritter from State Senator Adriano Espaillat’s office.

Koppell indicated that many new immigrants in the Northwest Bronx will be unaware of the application process for the charter schools or ineligible to apply because they were not here during the application process. They will be sent to schools that are already overcrowded and unable to meet their needs. He quoted a principal at one of these schools who told Koppell that “he had a dozen students who are walking from class to class not understanding anything.”

Koppell pointed out the success the E.L.L.I.S. Preparatory Academy on the Kennedy Campus has had with newly arrived immigrants and called for its expansion. He was heartened to hear that this is something the DOE is considering for next year, although he questioned whether there would be room in the building with the new schools coming in.

Koppell also expressed his objections to the process by which the new schools were selected to replace Kennedy, saying that there was little public input and that the community was essentially presented with a foregone conclusion.

“If there were broader input, the DOE might have been aware of the need for expanded educational opportunities for English language learners in our district prior to the selection of new schools,” Koppell said. He hoped to speak with Chancellor Kathy Black later this week to make his views known about the selection process.

Koppell said, “I was happy to learn that the DOE has given priority for admission to the charter schools to students in District 10. I am hopeful that these schools will provide a quality education for these pupils. However, I continue to be concerned that there will be no place where the many newly arrived immigrants and other English language learners in the district can obtain a meaningful education and I will continue to press the DOE to provide satisfactory educational opportunities for them.”

Strike Vote Moves Bronx Apartment Building Workers One Step Closer to a Work Stoppage

Here is a press release sent by Local 32BJ about the pending strike by Bronx building workers. Will it come down to the building workers paying for the housing mess created by others? Are the workers making between $15 and $17 an hour, the ones who should be stripped of benefits? Are the building owners at a crucial tipping point that somehow needs to be addressed? How will rents and maintenance fees be affected? This is a serious issue that needs to be examined and resolved. If not, over 3,000 Bronx apartment building workers and over 1,000 residential buildings in our borough alone will be affected by this potential strike.


Strike Vote Moves Bronx Apartment Building Workers One Step Closer to a Work Stoppage
– Strike of up to 3,000 Workers Could Directly Affect Nearly a Quarter of a Million New Yorkers –
--Vote Comes Days After Workers Reject Management’s Unfair Contract Proposal—
New York, NY— As their contract’s expiration approaches, Bronx building workers voted Wednesday to authorize a strike, if necessary, to protect good jobs throughout the borough. Failure to reach a new contract agreement by the March 15th deadline could lead to a strike of more than 3,000 Bronx apartment building workers at over 1,000 residential buildings.
“Undercutting the livelihoods of building workers not only hurts their families and our communities but could deny hundreds of thousands of tenants the services they depend on,” said Kyle Bragg, Vice President of 32BJ. “This strike vote shows we’re determined to keep the Bronx a place that working families can still afford to call home.”
Tonight’s vote came one week after workers rejected an unfair contract proposal by the Bronx Realty Advisory Board (BRAB), a real estate industry association representing Bronx building owners. The BRAB is seeking to strip away much needed benefits from these hard working men and women.
Contract negotiations between 32BJ SEIU and BRAB have been underway since February 8th, and several issues, including family health care and retirement savings, remain outstanding. The contract covers building superintendents, janitors, handypersons, porters, firepersons, doormen, elevator operators and garbage handlers.
“Nobody wants a strike, but we’re committed to do what it takes to get workers what they need,” said Bragg, “Working families need wages that keep pace with the city’s high cost of living.”
Workers are looking to maintain their benefits as well as moderate, cost of living wage increases. Under the current contract, the average Bronx apartment building workers’ wages range from $15.53/hr in the South Bronx to $17.07/hr in Riverdale, and they receive employer-paid family health care, pension and training in addition to vacation and sick leave.
“I voted yes for my family and for the families of all working people,” said Darryl Mosley, a Bronx doorman and father of two. “I feel like we’re being pushed out of the city with the rising cost of rents, mortgages, groceries, the subway, gas, you name it.”
Failure to reach an agreement, before the March 15th expiration, could lead to a strike directly affecting nearly 250,000 New Yorkers living in over 1,000 apartment, condo and co-op buildings in the Bronx.
With more than 70,000 members in New York, 32BJ is the largest private sector union in the state. For more information, visit
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For those interested in hearing what direction the Bronx Borough President will be taking the Borough, here is a reminder on today’s address;


Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will deliver his State of the Borough Address 2011 at the De Witt Clinton High School Campus on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 11:30 am.

At the ceremony the Borough President will share the many accomplishment of the last year and will outline his goals for the coming year.

WHEN: Thursday, February 24
WHERE: De Witt Clinton High School Auditorium- 100 Mosholu Parkway South
TIME: 11:30 am

El Diario Morning Cafe: Thursday February 24th

Your morning café - Feb. 24
Read these stories here.

Racism in Long Island? Latina charges that a fellow firefighter deliberately did not respond to her calls during a fire.

Meet Latino soccer dads in Pennsylvania. See our bilingual, multimedia report.

Does the nine-year sentence for the killers of Luis Ramirez represent justice? Tell us at

After being railroaded into an 18-year prison sentence, Fernando Bermudez is suing New York City. From the Manhattan DA’s office? The sound of coquis.

Speaking of tree frogs indigenous to the Island of Enchantment... Does Puerto Rico do it better?

In case you missed: Carmelo Anthony’s Red Hook.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vacca, Community Board 11 to Welcome Speaker Quinn to Monthly Meeting

Here is a press release from NYC Councilman Vacca's office. Please see the information below related to NYC Council Speaker Quinn's attendance at tomorrow's CB11 monthly meeting.


Tomorrow evening, Council Member James Vacca and Community Board 11 will welcome Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn to the Board’s monthly meeting, where Quinn will announce a package of legislation designed to address local quality of life and small business issues.

Quinn will also take questions from Board 11 members. The visit is part of a citywide tour Quinn is conducting to discuss the priorities outlined in her “State of the City” address on February 15.

WHO: Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn
Council Member James Vacca
Community Board 11 Vice Chairman Anthony Vitaliano
Community Board 11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke
Community Board 11 Members

WHERE: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Lubin Dining Hall @ Melzer Building
1200 Van Nest Avenue (at corner of Tenbroeck Avenue)
Bronx, NY

WHEN: Thursday, February 24, 2011

TIME: 8:30 p.m. (Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.)

BoogieDowner Street Beat Photo: What's a Greek Doing in the Latin American Motorcycle Association?

Here is a fun post about a Bronx biker I found filling up at a local gas station. I was not only intrigued by the ride but also the fact that he had both a Greek and Puerto Rican flag on the back. I approached him in Greek and jokingly asked "What's a Greek doing in the Latin American Motorcycle Association?” He responded; "My wife; the love of my life is Puerto Rican. I am lucky enough to have her and be welcomed as a member in the group". We then did the secret Hellenic handshake, that only Greeks know, and he confessed his real name is in fact Vangelis not Angelo.

I posted the organization web site below, as well as the introduction from their President as found on their home page. I did see “Easy Rider” growing up and do appreciate their commitment to Democratic ideals as posted on the first page of their web site.



The Latin American Motorcycle Association (L.A.M.A) was founded in 1977 in Chicago’s notorious Humboldt Park neighborhood. From it’s inception L.A.M.A. was intended as a Moto-Touring club with truly Democratic ideas. A lone chapter until the first chapter was started in Miami in 1995, LAMA became a National Association when the first national president was elected in 1996.

In 1999 LAMA became an International Association with chapters in Puerto Rico, Mexico, U.S.A. & Cuba. Presently LAMA has additional chapters in Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain & Australia. LAMA was intended as the club of the 21st century and is a work in Progress, to be continued by the flow and ideas of new members in near and far off lands!

LAMA is a club without borders. We have evolved into an “International Humanist Association”. We accept working people from all walks of life regardless of nationality, race, color, religion, social class, gender, age, brand of motorcycle, etc. We believe that it is more important to be human than to be Latin, Asian, black, white, etc!

LAMA is one of the most respected clubs in the world. As a LAMA member there are doors opened to you in every city where we have chapters. To know LAMA is to visit the other chapters, especially chapters in other nations.

LAMA is recognized as one of the most active long distance riding clubs in the world. Our women (DAMAS DE LAMA) accompany us on their own motorcycles, riding X-treme distances, which most Bikers find way too far and others find a challenge of endurance.

LAMA by-laws were compiled through 30 years of experiences. It was not intended so that we carry a dictionary of rules to have few short hours of fun. On the other hand, there are times when difficulties occur, and that’s when they come in handy.


Mario Nieves, Founder

Is “Solidarity” Making a Comeback? Thoughts on the Return of a Long Neglected Concept

The following was sent to me by Dr. Mark Naison. In a time when our society needs informed and articulate leaders, it is an honor to have him as a BoogieDown reader and contributor. Please do read.


Is “Solidarity” Making a Comeback? Thoughts on the Return of a Long Neglected Concept
( Dedicated to the Memory of Rich Klimmer, AFT organizer, Labor Historian and Friend)

Dr Mark Naison
Fordham University

When the union's inspiration through the workers' blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one
But the union makes us strong

Solidarity forever, Solidarity forever
Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong!
“Solidarity Forever” by Ralph Chapin

The success of the Wisconsin movement to protect collective bargaining rights of government workers, and of similar movements around the country, depends on the revival of a concept that has been out of favor in the United States for many years- the concept of “Solidarity” Republican lawmakers like Scott Walker were clearly expecting that this concept was dormant when they decided to attack bargaining rights of public employees. They were gambling that workers in the private sector who had lower wages, less generous benefits, and less job security than government workers would want to see them cut down to size in a Recession. They were expecting that envy, rather than Solidarity, would govern the attitudes of people hit hard by the Recession. Their experience, and their ideology, suggested that working class Americans would be more interested in lowering their own tax rates then protecting the bargaining rights of their unionized brothers and sisters.

But the response of to the Wisconsin bill, and to similar bills in Ohio and Indiana, seems to have caught Republican lawmakers by surprise. Firefighters and police officers, both exempt from the elimination of bargaining rights the Walker Bill, both turned out in force to support the protests as the Wisconsin Capital. So did high schools students, who came to support their teachers, and University students, who feared the Governors next step would be steep tuition rises and the elimination of bargaining rights for graduate students. When you couple this local response with the support of organized labor nationally, the result was the largest labor protest in a state in recent American history, with 70,000 people turning out the first weekend of the demonstration.

And when you look at the growing size of protests at the Ohio State capital, where private sectors unions have joined public sector unions in denouncing a similar bill to the Wisconsin one, you have to ask “What is going on? Why are labor unions, which have been on the defensive for the last thirty years, able to mount this kind of movement? Why is Solidarity, out of favor for many years, suddenly back in fashion?”

To understand this, it helps to look back at American History. For the last one hundred years, Solidarity has been more notable in its absence than its presence in the American working class. For the first thirty years of the 20th Century, corporations were able to keep the largest and most fast growing industries in the country- steel, automobile, electronics, ground transportation- almost entirely union free by playing off workers against one another by race, religion, and national origin and convincing the majority of the white protestant population in the nation that organized labor was a foreign implant.

However, all that changed during the Great Depression. When banks failed and the economy imploded, leaving nearly a third of the labor force unemployed by 1933, and another third working part time, working class Americans, seeing that that hardship hit people of all racial and religious backgrounds, and in every region of the country, began to listen to labor organizers, and representatives of radical parties, who argued that individual effort could no longer assure prosperity and that workers could only improve their lives by organizing together. These organizers made the argument that ALL workers would benefit when employed workers were able to form strong unions and they urged unemployed people to support unionization drives in major industries, rather than be recruited by employers to be strike breakers and anti-union vigilantes.

In the two most successful strikes of the Depression Era, the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934, which led to the unionization of a sizable share of overland truck traffic, and the Flint Sit down strikes of `1936-37 which led to the unionization of General Motors and US Steel, both of which involved pitched battles between strikers, police and Citizens Committees organized by employers, the unemployed either remained neutral or took the side of the strikers. As a result, employers not only were unable to recruit strikebreakers, they were unable, even with the police on their side, to control the streets surrounding the plants and warehouses that were on strike assuring that the protests went on for weeks, and months, until the employers finally agreed to union recognition. There were other conditions that led to the success of these strikes, such as the refusal of the Minnesota and Michigan governors to us the National Guard to remove workers from factories and warehouses, but the support of the unemployed who had nothing to gain, in the short run, from the success of these movements, was absolutely critical. Somehow, a critical mass of the unemployed, along with workers outside the affected industries, had come to believe in all workers would benefit when some workers achieved union recognition. They had become caught up in “union fever” the idea that only by organizing unions could workers attain dignity and respect as well as a decent standard of living and they fought side by side in the streets with striking workers until these communal battles were won.

Were they justified in this belief, or had they just succumbed to the UnAmerican propaganda of Communists and Socialists? Fast forward to the 1950’s. Thirty five percent of the American labor force is unionized, including most of those working in steel, auto, electronics and transportation. The people who built these unions not only had the highest standard of living in the world, they lived in one of the most equal advanced nations on the planet, where the top one percent of the population controlled 9 percent of national income, as opposed to 23 percent today. In New York City, where unions were particularly powerful, you had an amazing network of public universities, which charged no tuition, public hospitals, schools with free after school centers and great music and sports programs, and museums and zoos which charged no admission. The evidence is incontrovertible- the rise of organized labor, from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1950’s, coincided with a significant improvement in the standard of living of all American workers, whether or not they were in unions.

Most Americans do not know this. Except among people in union education departments and those who teach labor history in universities, the role of labor unions in spreading the benefits of prosperity in the years following the Depression is neither known, nor acknowledged. However, the current economic crisis, with its eerie parallels to the Great Depression, is making many working class Americans wonder whether their dreams of individual prosperity and security are still possible in a society where the housing market, banking system, and now local governments are in such trouble. Some may be blaming their plight on the “fat contracts” and “bloated pensions” of government workers, but others are wondering what the role of the banks and large corporations have been in putting them in such a predicament, and how they can fight back

It is in this context that the Wisconsin protests put forward a message that, to everyone’s surprise, touches a chord. Maybe working Americans have had enough of blaming unions and government for what has happened to them. Maybe they are starting to think that the calls for “sacrifice” that politicians of both parties are making should be directed toward the very wealthy, who are the only people who have not been hurt during the crisis. And maybe they are starting to hear a message that says that working Americans had better overcome their differences and start to fight for their rights or their hopes for a life of comfort and security will be gone forever.

Solidarity, here in America, in 2011? Look around you, in a million years, would you have expected there to be 70,000 people massed outside the Wisconsin State Capitol demanding protection of collective bargaining rights for government workers?. Why, the very thought is as improbable as Black students sitting in at lunch counters in 35 cities throughout the South.

History can move in mysterious ways.

And Solidarity may be making a comeback.

Mark Naison
February 22, 2011