Sunday, April 30, 2006

For a Warm, Unvarnished Place, High Rent and Dark Times

Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 07:49:25 -0400
From: "Tenant"
Subject: For a Warm, Unvarnished Place, High Rent and Dark Times

NB - $18,000/mo for 1,000 SF translates into $216/SF, which is an obscene
amount for a retail space outside of Times Square and Park Avenue.
Even on 9th Ave. in the 40's we're only seeing $150/SF. (and that is
up from $30-$50 about eight years ago).

If the lease is just ending, that implies it got to that rental
amount 5 or 10 years ago, before the current boom. This is fishy and
there's probably more to the story than that. Maybe the owner gave
the restaurant a lease concession in return for the higher rent.
From: "Philip DePaolo"
To: "Tenant" , "jordi Reyes-Montblanc" ,,,
Subject: RE: For a Warm, Unvarnished Place, High Rent and Dark Times
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 10:17:17 -0400

NB - This is a dilemma we are facing through the five boroughs.

Gentrification on steroids has put great pressures on Longtime retail and manufacturing
small businesses. I am involved right now with a Mexican grocery store that
has had its rent raised $8,500.00 the last two years. they are working seven days a week,
twelve hours a day to lose money. They are planning to close.

We are also trying to save a thirty six year old steel fabrication business that has a
history of hiring local Handicapped members of the community and community
paroles, and teach them a trade. His current staff has two former paroles who have
been with him for twelve years. Condos are rising on both sides of his
business and he is being evicted at the end of May.

We have already lost an ice cream shop, a dry cleaner, a shoe repair shop, a diner, a clothes store, and a pet store in Williamsburg. We have gained noisy bars, expensive restaurants
and chain stores. The sad part is the city considers this progress.

Enjoy your Sunday.

April 30, 2006
Upper West Side

For a Warm, Unvarnished Place, High Rent and Dark Times

La Rosita, a rice-and-beans joint on Broadway near 108th Street, is
the sort of place where the owners cluck and fuss over everyone who
comes in the door, and the waitress will hold your baby while you
eat. On a typical morning, scruffy Columbia professors sit at the
Formica counter beside weary cleaning women coming off the night shift.
"It's sort of what we used to be, and what some of us still are,"
said Della Clason Sperling, an art historian who has lived in the
neighborhood for 25 years. "You know, some of us like to have a
little bit of grit."

But as the neighborhood has increasingly buffed away its rough edges,
rising rents have forced out many family-owned businesses, and La
Rosita seems poised to become the next to go. After 24 years of
dishing out carne guisada and camaraderie, Enrique Fernandez and his
two sons, Eduardo and Fernando, have all but made up their minds to
close up shop when their lease runs out in December. They may leave

"I'm not making enough now to pay the rent, employees, water and
gas," said Enrique Fernandez, a 75-year-old Spaniard with swept-back
white hair and expressive hands who came to New York by way of Cuba.
"I'm working, working, working for nothing."

The restaurant's regulars have taken the news hard, and a few weeks
ago, five of them, including Ms. Sperling, met with the Fernandezes
to strategize about how to save La Rosita. Among other suggestions,
the group offered to petition the restaurant's landlord; two years
ago, a similar petition drew nearly 4,000 signatures and helped
preserve Suba Pharmacy, which has served the neighborhood since 1982.

Eduardo Fernandez, the owner's 42-year-old son, explained to the
group that the landlord was open to letting La Rosita renew its
lease. The problem, he said, was that the family was already
struggling to pay the $18,000-a-month rent for its 1,000-square-foot
space, and therefore did not even plan to ask the landlord for a
reprieve on any increase.

Three calls over the course of a week to Heller Realty, to which the
Fernandezes pay rent for the restaurant, were not returned.

"Also, my dad is getting older," Eduardo Fernandez added in an
interview. "If he stays, he'll never retire, and I think this might
be a good thing for him."

But what's good for Enrique Fernandez may not be good for the

"Most of the family-owned businesses in the neighborhood are gone,"
Ms. Sperling said. "It's this feeling, like 'Oh, no, another one?
What will be left that we'll want to call our own?' "
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Friday, April 28, 2006

NYC Rent Ceilings to Increase

Columbia Spectator

NYC Rent Ceilings to Increase
Over One-Fourth of City Housing Residents to Face Rent Raises
By Tom Faure Spectator Staff Writer
April 27, 2006

The New York City Housing Authority will raise its rent ceiling for the first time since 1989 in September, to compensate for federal cuts and rising costs.

The rent increase, announced last Thursday, is part of a new initiative that the NYCHA calls its �Seven-Point Plan to Preserve Public Housing.� According to NYCHA, the hike will affect 27 percent of its residents and will be phased in over the next two years. It will increase the rent ceilings of those affected by five percent.

NYCHA announced the increase only weeks after instituting new surcharges on utilities, repairs, and excess energy consumption.

�The ceiling has not been changed for years,� said Sarah Martin, president of the tenants� association at Grant Houses on West 125th Street and Broadway. �Having to do this�and it had to be done�the Housing Authority did it the most fairly it could.�

Some residents, however, were not pleased to hear the news.

�I used to live here. It�s because they raised their rents I had to leave,� said Derrick Williams, a former resident of Grant Houses.

�My grandparents were one of the first people who moved here,� said another Grant Houses resident who identified herself as Janee. �The problem is, if we want to stay here, we�ll have to buy a place.�

�It�s becoming more punitive to live in public housing,� said Harlem Tenants Council Director Nellie Bailey. �Five percent is not the end of the world, but it shows what�s to come ... It doesn�t take long for that to trickle down. You start with the top 20 percent and then start to include others. Look at the utility charges, those were for everyone.�

�NYCHA has talked about the deficit it�s expecting, but we have to look at the number of apartments they�re warehousing,� Bailey said, referring to the apartments that NYCHA owns but hasn�t rented out. �I think they have some explaining to do about these extra apartments as potential sources of income.�

The Housing Authority pointed to rising costs and lagging federal support for its mounting budget deficit. A press release said the Housing Authority had suffered a budget deficit of �$168 million in 2006 alone ... Utility costs are up 42 percent; pension costs are up 752 percent, and collective bargaining costs are up 29 percent.� NYCHA hopes the increase will save $60.8 million by the 2009 fiscal year.

The move may have additional consequences. However, Community Board 9 Chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc said that his concern is more focused on the private landlords who may increase, and possibly abuse, the rents. �They [the landlords] need no justifications, but we�re keeping an eye out.�

NYCHA Chairman Tino Hernandez noted in a press release that NYCHA rents will still be lower than those of public housing tenants in cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Syracuse, N.Y. The plan also includes $100 million in city aid.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

N.Y.U., Columbia Make A Mint on Real Estate

N.Y.U., Columbia
Make A Mint on Real Estate
By: Matthew SchuermanDate: 5/1/2006 Page:

About once a year, New York University president John Sexton offers himself up like a martyr to a crowd of sneering, menacing Greenwich Village residents. These so-called town meetings follow a standard format: the Villagers ask him whether N.Y.U. plans to buy this or that property or, if it has already, what it plans to do there. And the shaggy-haired Mr. Sexton responds with some variation of: �We don�t know.�

But build something they will�and have. An undergraduate dorm went up where Palladium dance-club customers used to groove; a law-school building took over the house where Edgar Allan Poe used to brood. Its campus, once confined to Washington Square, now includes more than 100 buildings, extending from Union Square south all the way to Water Street in the Financial District. It rents classroom space as far north as 42nd Street.

The value of N.Y.U.�s property has almost tripled since 1992. It is now worth half a billion dollars, according to a study to be released April 26 by City Project, a nonprofit budget-watchdog group.

Columbia University is even richer. Its holdings have grown more than four times over the same period, to $623.6 million. This number excludes the value of banked property it has not yet converted to educational use, including many of the properties within its proposed 18-acre campus in the Manhattanville section of Harlem, which would be used primarily for research facilities.

�Twenty-five years ago, there was a fairly discreet portion of Greenwich Village which you walked about and was N.Y.U.,� said Andrew Berman, executive director at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. �Now there are blocks and blocks of it. We are located in the middle of N.Y.U. as opposed to N.Y.U. being located in the middle of the Village.�

But aside from complaints about the bulk of these buildings or their questionable architectural style, it is hard to begrudge an institution for being too successful, right? After all, Columbia and N.Y.U. apparently believe in the city�s future, and anyone who has spent $1 million on an apartment recently has gotta love that.

The problem comes, according to City Project, when these private institutions buy property and take them off the property-tax rolls, depriving the city of funds to pay the Police Department, the Fire Department, the public schools and universities, and all the other things that are going to keep the value of that $1 million apartment from plummeting into a 1970�s redux. All told, if private education facilities were taxable, the city would be $386 million a year richer, the report finds�pocket change for a city with a $50 billion budget, perhaps, but an amount that�s growing by over 30 percent a year.

�All of these tax exemptions are coming out of the pocket of public institutions,� said Bonnie Brower, the executive director of City Project. �They are not providing a unique service; they are providing a service that government is already paying for with public universities. They don�t even provide education primarily to city residents.�

Private universities, especially N.Y.U. and Columbia, are engaged in �real-estate empire building,� Ms. Brower said.

In comparison, her organization, City Project, is sort of the opposite of these elite institutions: While the universities have beefed up their endowments and gotten all glamorous hiring Harvard professors, this scrappy 22-year-old muckraking organization has seen its funding dry up. The report, �Fatal Subtraction,� provided exclusively to The Observer in advance of its official release, was intended to be the second installment in a series on fiscal drains on the city treasury. But it will be City Project�s last publication ever.

At one point during a telephone interview on the report, Ms. Brower interrupted herself to take a call on the other line. �That was someone who wanted to give a donation so that we could send out more of these reports,� she said delightedly when she switched back.

Much of the tripling and quadrupling in value of these universities� holdings stems from general property appreciation in New York City, but neither institution denies that it is growing. In N.Y.U.�s case, it has much to do with providing university housing needed to attract a national and international student body�part of a strategy, devised in the 1980�s, to move into the �first rank of universities,� said Lynne Brown, the senior vice president for university relations and public affairs.

�We were not sustainable in the current model,� she said. �There is always a problem with nonprofit institutions that if you are not moving ahead, you will move backwards. We were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.�

City Project�s Ms. Brower contends that such a strategy of prestige building means that the public is paying for N.Y.U.�s prestige. The same can be said for the growth of faculty housing�a perk that Columbia and N.Y.U. have offered new recruits to counter the high cost of living in New York City, and which accounts for some of the campus growth. It undercuts one of the universities� strongest claims for why tax breaks are worth it: What�s the point of creating jobs if the people filling them come from Boston, are most likely Red Sox fans, and won�t even pay property taxes on their homes?

N.Y.U.�s Ms. Brown argues that university employees pay $114 million in federal, state and city income taxes, and that new students come to school, graduate, stay in New York and create �whole new industries.�

David Stone, Columbia�s executive vice president for communications, said that the city benefits more from having first-class universities than from having mediocre ones.

�Every person talking about great cities is talking about the knowledge economy,� he told The Observer. �And where is the knowledge economy going to start�where are you going to have it in New York City, being as expensive as it is�except for at universities or other great cultural, scientific, intellectual institutions?�

Still, education jobs in general are not huge generators of city tax revenue, in part because of the tax exemptions. The city�s Department of Finance reports that the average education worker�which includes public-school teachers as well as university administrators�contributed $2,451 in city income, sales and property taxes, which is 35th out of 46 different job categories. Jobs in clothing and accessory stores, by comparison, contributed an average of $3,450.

Ms. Brown said that it�s unfair to set off in a double-ledger column, calling universities �one of the most important niches in one of the most stable and robust sectors of the economy.�

And yet if universities don�t pay taxes, someone else will have to. Combine the education tax breaks with all of those that for-profit businesses�the Yankees, the Mets and Goldman Sachs�have lately received for new real-estate projects, and pretty soon no one will be paying taxes at all except the poor schnooks who work at those places and go to their games.

Indeed, the City Project report found that only 42 percent of New York City�s real estate is taxed at the full amount, accounting for a loss of $7.3 billion a year.

Private universities, like nonprofit institutions, enjoy property-tax breaks throughout the country, generally conferred by state laws, even though it is the locality that must carry the burden. But in some places, elite universities at least make a token contribution to offset the wear and tear they cause on city streets, parks, public elementary schools and the like.

Princeton pays $2 million, which is about what it estimates its faculty, staff and graduate-student housing is worth, and when it takes property off tax rolls entirely for educational purposes, it phases out tax payments gradually. Harvard pays $4.2 million.

The state government in Connecticut actually steps in and makes payments in lieu of taxes (also known as PILOT�s) to host municipalities, so that New Haven received $30.2 million this year, plus another $4.2 million chipped in by Yale.

If Columbia and N.Y.U. were to pay taxes just on faculty and student apartments (excluding dorms), their payments would be $16 million and $8.7 million.

Ms. Brown demurred when asked about PILOT�s, saying that these other cities �are in different positions and situations.� But any payments that N.Y.U. would have to make, she said, would create the pressure to raise tuition, which would keep out poorer students.

�If you are talking about a major university in a much smaller borough or township and you are talking about a major university in New York City, that�s like comparing a little kumquat to a grapefruit,� Columbia�s Mr. Stone said. �The Princeton endowment per capita is so much larger than any other university in the country that it can�t be compared.

�You are talking about a university that has no hospital or public-health facilities. It�s a different scale of institution.�

Hmmm�so when talking about all the good impacts, Columbia and N.Y.U. are large enough to save New York from mediocrity; but when talking about the negatives, these universities are too small to damage the tax base?

Modest changes to New York State�s tax exemptions have been sought before, according to City Project�s Ms. Brower. A commission created by then-Governor Mario Cuomo�which included none other Martha Stark, now Mayor Bloomberg�s finance commissioner, and Linda Gibbs, a deputy mayor�admonished municipalities to view tax exemptions as a form of spending.

In 1991 and �92, the State Assembly considered a bill that would have excluded exemptions for faculty housing and �social relations.� The State Senate considered a similar bill two years ago.

Neither came to a vote. Mark Hansen, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, told The Observer that the idea for some tax reform is still out there, but that it is �very complicated.�

copyright � 2005 the new york observer, L.P. all rights reserved

Protest at Columbia University

NB - Posted as a Public Service, the views expressed are not necessarily the views of the Board, the Board Members or the Chair, nor does this posting constitute an endorsement of the act.
Presentado como servicio publico, las ideas expresadas no son necesariamente las ideas de la Junta o de los miembros o del presidented de la Junta, ni consituye un endorsamiento del acto.

HDFCCentral Web Forum 722.1

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2006 07:38:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Protest at Columbia University - 27Apr06

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2006 22:42:43 EDT
Subject: Re:

Can you post our demo notice? Tom d

(batch 3 of 3)

4:00PM TO 6:30PM

Thursday, April 27: Demonstration at Columbia (Spanish flyer is pasted
in below and our basic flyer is two-sided in English and Spanish)
Call Tom DeMott 212 666-6426 or 917 969-0669 to pick up flyers, if you
would like to help, or email to get flyer sent as an attachment. Thanks.





116th Street & Broadway



(here on our flyer, we have a picture of the 125th and Broadway area
businesses that are gone - but the graph messes with the email so we
did not try
to include it in this email to you)




THURSDAY, APRIL 27, 4:00 TO 6:30PM


116th Street & Broadway





United for an Open and Strong Community

PO BOX 50 Manhattanville Station TEL: (212) 666-6426 or

365 West 125th Street TEL:
234-3002 (ESPANOL)

New York City, New York 10027 EMAIL:

West Harlem Business Group: cell 917 705-2922 (212) 678-4862 o
Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification: (646)-296-5927,
(267)-252-6542 (856) 371-6123


(below is back side of flyer)


(1) Columbia recently bought 3251 Broadway and tried to close down the
freight elevator that five floors of auto mechanics and an antique
business depend on to survive. These businesses provide SKILLED JOBS,
the kind
COLUMBIA’S PLAN. We stopped Columbia in January, but the University
to give leases to the businesses. Columbia claims it respects the

West 132nd St. and 3289 Broadway) are in the middle of the conversion
USING EMINENT DOMAIN. Columbia claims it respects the community. WE

here for years, and are expanding. Columbia wants to have them
condemned if they
don’t want to sell. Columbia claims it respects the community.

(4) Columbia University wants to build HIGH BIO-SAFETY LEVEL LABS IN
MANHATTANVILLE. These labs can conduct experiments with dangerous and
biological agents such as Avian Flu, Sars, and the Plague. Many of
these agents are
transmitted by air, highly contagious, and could cause serious illness.
labs would get federal grants, including money from the Department of
it respects the Community. WE SAY: SHOW SOME RESPECT, PUT YOUR BIOTECH

* 3333 Broadway owner opts out of Mitchell Lama, removing affordability
* Morningside Gardens' cooperative triples sales prices for apartments.
* Public Housing is under increased pressure with add-on costs and
privatization threats.
* Buyout offers pressure tenants on Tiemann Place at the southern end
of expansion area.
* Columbia removes apartments from rent-regulation status and converts
to dorm spaces.
United for an Open and Strong Community - (Contact Info on other side)

SPANISH FLYER: Front and back is below

125 A
LA 133, Y MAS





For additional information contact: Coalition to Preserve Community
Email: Call (212)-666-6426. Alternate contact: (212)
234-5005 (se habla espanol: (212) 234-3002).
West Harlem Business Group: 917 705 2922
Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrificaton (865) 371-6123 or



1) Despues de comprar el 3251 de Broadway, Columbia intento cerrar
elevador de carga sin el cual no pueden funcionar cinco pisos de
mecanicos que
reparan automobiles y un negocio de restoracion de antiguedades. Son el
tipo de
empleo que se debe preservar y que el Plan de Desarrollo Comunal 197A
mientras que el de Columbia trata de eliminar. Columbia se rehusa a
darles un
contrato de arendamiento a estos negocios. Columbia dice que respeta a
2) Hay cuatro edificios en la propuesta area de expansion donde los
inquilinos son eligibles a convertirse en propietarios de sus
apartamentos a bajo
costo-el Programa TIL. Dos de ellos (602 W. 132 Street y 3289 Broadway)
estan a la mitad del proceso de conversion. PERO COLUMBIA QUIERE
PROCESO DE DOMINIO EMINENTE. Columbia dice que respeta a la comunidad.
QUEDARSE. Todos llevan anos de operar, se han extendido y quieren
aun mas. Columbia busca a condenar a los que se rehusan a vender sus
negocios. Columbia pretende a respetar a la comunidad. NOSOTROS DECIMOS
4) Columbia quiere construir LABORATORIOS BIOTECNICOS DE ALTOS
SEGURIDAD EN MANHATTANVILLE. Estos laboratorios podran conducir
con elementos biologicos que pueden tener consecuencias de peligro
mortal, tal
como "SARS, Avian Flu, Plague". Incluso con agents que pueden ser
transmitidos por el aire, que son contagiosos, y pueden causar
enfermedades serias.
RESIDENCIAL? Los laboratorios obtendran financiamento del gobierno
federal, incluso
EN UN BLANCO DE ATAQUE. Columbia pretende respetar a la comunidad.

Grey Wolf-6

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Getting your local restaurants on the 2007 Zagat Dining Guide

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 11:56:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: "J Reyes-Montblanc"
Subject: Fwd: Getting your local restaurants on the 2007 Zagat Dining Guide

sbaileymcc wrote:
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 10:47:44 -0400

From: sbaileymcc
Subject: Getting your local restaurants on the 2007 Zagat Dining Guide

Good morning everyone,

I just learned that patrons can nominate their favorite or neighborhood restaurants in the 2007 Zagat Dining Guide. To nominate go The nomination is not guaranteed but this is an opportunity for Northern Manhattan restaurants to get in the book. So, please spread the word. Restaurants can ask their patrons to nominate them, you can nominate your favorite restaurant.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Fly Life Barring Bars Proposed legislation would freeze liquor licenses; Rated X is back

NYC Life

Fly Life
Barring Bars
Proposed legislation would freeze liquor licenses; Rated X is back
by Tricia RomanoApril 24th, 2006 7:29 PM

Elefant's Diego Garcia surprises the Annex crowd.
photo: Abbey Braden/

Spring has sprung, and so has the War on Fun. A bill sponsored by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that would freeze liquor licenses has already passed one assembly committee. The legislation would put a halt to new applications where there are three or more existing licenses within a 500-foot radius (approximately two blocks) in cities with a population over 20,000 (yes, we qualify). This would make it difficult to have even three restaurants that serve liquor on a strip like Clinton Street.

Robert Bookman, the lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association, which opposes the legislation, says, "We aren't a podunk town. We have buildings with more than one liquor license in them, let alone a block."
Additionally, the proposal would prevent an owner with a license issued after November 1993 from transferring the license�unfairly lowering the market value of the business.

Ironically, the result will not be the one residents complaining about "too many bars"�like saturated Ludlow Street�actually desire. "If you are a too-many-bar person, this is a terrible idea, because it will lock in the existing locations forever, so they will never have a reduction in the number of bars," says Bookman.

A hearing will be held May 5 at 250 Broadway, starting at 10 a.m.

But all is not lost. Spring has also sprung for all our local bands, parties, and a club. Last week, Elefant played a surprise guest gig at the Annex, in support of their new record Black Magic Show, to a crowd that included long-lost Hollywood "It" girl Leelee Sobieski. Current "It" girl Scarlett Johansson and her puffy lips and pillow tits watched TV on the Radio at the Bowery the following night. Later in the week, every gay man in New York converged to see the Scissor Sisters play at two concerts at the Bowery, where they debuted some of their new songs.
In clubland, Scenic is re-emerging with a carnival theme and is now called Club Midway. After a nearly two-month break for renovations to both its interior and its programming, the space will relaunch the scandalous party Rated X, thrown by Michael T and Theo, intact, starting May 6. The duo decided to stay with the venue after dealing directly with owners Oliver and Kenai Sehgal. Michael T says he asked the two brothers whether or not they were comfortable with the gay and risqu� nature of their party: "We brought it up briefly the very first time we met with them in late Febuary, and they were more concerned with the sexual antics than anything gay or straight per se. We really haven't felt it was a homophobic issue," he says. "We've certainly told them many times, we don't plan on changing our party." The club's booking agent, J.C. Scruggs, says Midway will be focusing on "up-and-coming indie, mostly local bands, but we hope to snag the occasional national act," and that Rated X is their only weekly dance party thus far.

Some of the old staffers are still on board, but not all. At least one has followed Spencer Product and the other popular weekly at Scenic, Hot Fuckin' Pink, to the Annex, where it's been reborn as the Ruff Club on Fridays. Product's got his old posse on board, including Sophia Lamar and Denny from Hot Fuckin' Pink Phoenix. He's bringing in bands, including bad boys A.R.E. Weapons , in May.

Product is still doing his Tuesday-night party at Happy Ending without his DJ partner Stefan Lockdown, who died last winter. "It's definitely weird. It's kind of like Stefan church in a way," Product says. He's also helping with the Lockdown Fundraiser, held on the last Monday of every month. The money goes to an art scholarship fund set up by Lockdown's parents. It takes place, not in a church or a community center, but at Stefan's favorite bar, Sweet'N'Vicious.

send a letter to the editor go to next article in nyclife ->

Sunday, April 23, 2006

St. George - Patron Saint of Catalunya

Sant Jordi, patr� de Catalunya

Qui va ser Sant Jordi?

El nom de Jordi �s un mot grec que vol dir el qui treballa la terra, llaurador o pag�s.

El m�s important �s que Sant Jordi va ser un m�rtir. Mot grec que significa testimoni, �s a dir, la persona que compareix a declarar davant la just�cia, el que ha vist o sentit, que compareix a certificar la identitat d'alg�, l'exactitud d'una declaraci� diu el diccionari Pompeu Fabra.
Quan en els primers segles despr�s de Crist els seus seguidors es negaven a adorar com un D�u l'emperador rom�, declaraven que l'�nic D�u que podien adorar era Jesucrist. Aquest testimoniatge era castigat amb la pena de mort.

Per aix� la paraula m�rtir ben aviat es va aplicar a aquelles persones que havien donat la seva sang per causa de la seva fe en el Crist.

Arran d'aquests m�rtirs es redactaren cr�niques que que eren llegides a reunions cristianes el dia de l'aniversari de la mort del m�rtir, que de fet representava el dia del naixement, l'inici d'una vida eterna. Sant Jordi, Patr� de Catalunya.

Entre els molts milers de m�rtirs, Sant Jordi va gaudir de molta veneraci� i popularitat universal durant els temps medievals. El fet de ser cavaller li donava categoria entre la gent d'armes. Aix� f�u que l'escollissin per patr� de la cavalleria i noblesa catalana.

Per festivar el Sant, a Barcelona, la noblesa havia celebrat en el Born, torneigs, justes i altres jocs d'armes, que havien revestit gran solemnitat i donaven a la festa un to senyor�vol i aristocr�tic que n'allunyava el poble.

Avui en dia, en el nostre pa�s, la figura de Sant Jordi es troba en molts �mbits: pintures, escultures gravats,...segells, monedes, banderes, vestits, brodats, rajoles, mobles, cer�mica, joies, miniatures... D'altra banda, pensem amb persones que coneguem i se'n diguin amb aquest nom.

Tot plegat �s prou significatiu com per creure que �s una figura ben viva, i que ha deixat empremta en el record de la gent. Ha format part del nostre folklore. Paraula anglesa que significa la saviesa del poble.

Sant Jordi, m�rtir d'una llegenda

Sant Jordi, cavaller i m�rtir, �s l'heroi d'una gran gesta cavalleresca, que la veu popular universal situa a les terres allunyades i llegend�ries de la Capad�cia, per� que la tradici� catalana creu esdevinguda als voltants de la vila de Montblanc.

Diuen que assolava els voltants de Montblanc un monstre ferotge i terrible, que posse�a les facultats de caminar, volar i nedar, i tenia l'al� pudent, fins el punt que des de molt lluny, amb les seves alenades envierinava l'aire, i produ�a la mort de tots els qui el respiraven. Era l'estrall dels remats i de les gents i per tota aquella contrada regnava el terror m�s profund.

Les gents van pensar donar-li cada dia una persona que li serviria de presa, i aix� no faria estrall a tort i a dret. Van assejar el sistema i va donar bon resultat; el cas dif�cil fou trobar qui es sent�s prou avorrit per deixar-se menjar volunt�riament pel monstre ferotge. Tot el veinat va concloure fer cada dia un sorteig entre tots els ve�ns de la vila, i aquell que destin�s la sort seria lliurat a la fera. I aix� es va fer durant molt de temps, i el monstre se'n deiuria sentor satisfet, car va deixar de fer els estralls i malvestats que havia fer abans.

Heus ac� que un dia la sort va voler que fos la filla del rei la destinada a ser presa del monstre. La princesa era jove, gentil i gallarda com cap altra, i feia molt dol haver-la de donar a la b�stia. Ciutadans hi hagu� que es van oferir a substituir-la, per� el rei fou sever i inexorable, i amb el cor ple de dol va dir que tant era la seva filla com la de qualsevol dels seus s�bdits. Aix�, el rei va avenir-se a que la princesa fos sacrificada.

La donzella va sortir de la ciutat tota sola i espantada, i va comen�ar a caminar cap al cau del monstre. Mentre, tot el veinat, desconsolat i alicaigut, mirava des de la muralla com la princesa anava al sacrifici.

Quan portava una estona caminant se li va presentar un jove cavaller, cavalcat en un cavall blanc, i amb una armadura tota daurada i lluent. La donzella, esborronada, li digu� que fug�s de pressa, puix que per all� rondava una fera que aix� que el vei�s en faria xixina. El cavaller li digu� que no tem�s, que no li havia de passar res, ni a ell ni a ella, per tal com ell havia vingut expressament per combatre el monstre, per matar-lo i alliberar del sacrifici a la princesa, com tamb� a la ciutat de Montblanc del flagell que li representava el ve�natge d'aquell monstre.

Entre aquestes, la fera va presentar-se, amb gran horror de la donzella i amb gran goig del cavaller, que la va escometre i d'una llan�ada la va malferir. El cavaller, que era Sant Jordi, llig� la b�stia pel coll i la don� a la donzella perqu� ella mateixa la port�s a la ciutat. El monstre va seguir tot manso i estemordit a la princesa. Tot el poble de Montblanc, que havia presenciat la baralla des de les muralles ja esperava amb el bra�os oberts la donzella i el cavaller, i enmig de la pla�a va esbravar el seu odi contra la fera, de la qual aviat no rest� boc�.

El rei volia casar la seva filla amb el forc�vol cavaller, per� Sant Jordi va replicar que no la mereixia; va dir que havia tingut una revelaci� divina sobre la necessitat urgent d'anar a combatre el drac ferotge i alliberar la donzella, i amb ella la ciutat de Montblanc. I aix� ho havia fet amb la protecci� divina i per manament div�. Per tant, ell no havia fet res per ell mateix i no mereixia cap premi.

Aleshores, Sant Jordi desaparegu� misteriosament, talment com havia aparegut.

Text extret del Costumari Catal� de Joan Amades. Il�lustracions cedides pels alumnes de Cicle Mitj� del CEIP Pont de la Cadena de Molins de Rei

Diada del llibre i de la rosa

Antigament, les classes aristocr�tiques, en aquests dies celebraven festes cavalleresques com torneigs, de les que eren excloses les classes populars i que es celebraven al Born on les dames eren obsequiades amb roses i flors.

Segles despr�s, el costum d'obsequiar l'estimada amb una rosa es va anar estenent fins arribar a �sser, com ho �s en l'actualitat, una festa t�pica celebrada arreu de Catalunya per tothom.

No podem oblidar el caire nacionalista que sempre ha pres la festa, m�s gran encara quan la nacionalitat catalana era negada, i el seu s�mbol ha estat la senyera penjada de la casa de la vila de cada localitat i de cada llar.

La llegenda catalana del drac i la princesa

Com ja saps, Sant Jordi era un soldat rom� nascut a Capad�cia (actual regi� de Turquia) i �s el gran protagonista d�una gran gesta cavalleresca que se situa a L�bia, per� que la tradici� catalana creu esdevinguda a la poblaci� de Montblanc (Tarragona). Diuen que assolava els voltants de Montblanc un monstre ferotge i terrible, que posse�a les facultats de caminar, volar i nedar, i tenia l�al� pudent, fins al punt que des de molt lluny amb les seves alenades enverinava l�aire, i produ�a la mort de tots els qui el respiraven. Era l�estrall dels remats i de les persones i per tota aquella contrada regnava el terror m�s profund. Els habitants van pensar en donar-li cada dia una persona que li serviria de presa, i aix� no faria l�estrall a tort i a dret.

De fet, la llegenda diu, que el sistema els hi va sortir d�all� m�s b�, per� el que era realment complicat, era trobar una persona que cada dia es deix�s menjar per aquell monstre. Tot el ve�nat va decidir doncs, fer cada dia un sorteig entre tots els habitants de la vila i que aquell que destin�s la sort seria lliurat a la �simp�tica� fera. Aix� es va fer durant molt de temps, i el monstre se�n devia sentir satisfeta, ja que deixava de fer els estralls i malvestats que havia fet abans. Per�... vet aqu� que un dia, la sort va voler que la filla del rei fos la destinada. La princesa era jove, guapa, fina ... ciutadans hi hagu� que es van oferir a substituir-la, per� el rei fou sever i inexorable, i amb el cor ple de dol, va dir que tant era la seva filla com la de qualsevol dels seus s�bdits i s�avingu� que fos sacrificada. La donzella sort� de la ciutat i ella soleta s�encamin� cap al llac on hi residia la fera, mentre tot el ve�nat, desconsolat i afligit, mirava des de la muralla com se n�anava al sacrifici.

Per� fou el cas que, quan va �sser un xic enll� de la muralla, se li present� un jove cavaller, cavalcat en un cavall blanc, i amb una armadura tota daurada i lluent. La donzella, tota preocupada, li digu� que fug�s r�pidament, ja que per all� rondava un monstre que aix� que el vei�s se�l menjaria. El cavaller li digu� que no tem�s, que no li havia de passar res, ni a ell ni a ella, ja que havia vingut expressament per combatre la fera i aix� alliberar del sacrifici de la princesa, com tamb� a la ciutat de Montblanc. La fera, va sortir de cop i volta amb gran horror de la donzella i amb gran goig del cavaller. Aquest, amb un bon cop de llan�a el va malferir. El cavaller, que era Sant Jordi, llig� el monstre pel coll i la don� a la donzella perqu� ella mateixa la port�s a la ciutat, i la fera segu� tota mansa i atemorida. La llegenda explica fins i tot, que els ve�ns de Montblanc havien vist tota aquella gesta des de la muralla i que reb� amb els bra�os oberts a la donzella i el cavaller. A la pla�a major del poble, els ve�ns van acabar de rematar aquell ferotge animal.

Es diu que el rei va voler casar la seva filla amb Sant Jordi, per� que aquest va replicar-li tot dient que no la mereixia i que la seva visita en aquella ciutat era perqu� havia tingut una revelaci� divina sobre la necessitat urgent de salvar aquella vila del monstre. Recoman� al rei i als seus vassalls que fossin bon cristians i que honressin i veneressin D�u tal com mereixia. Desaparegu� misteriosament tal i com havia vingut.

Aquesta, �s amic cibernauta, la versi� catalana ambientada a Catalunya, de la c�lebre llegenda de Sant Jordi, i que no �s m�s que una adaptaci� de l�aut�ntica narraci� llegend�ria que va escriure Santiago de la Vor�gine al segle XII en la seva obra titulada �La Leyenda Dorada�. Curiosament, en aquesta versi� catalana, es diu que aquest acte heroic es va arribar a con�ixer per tot el m�n, i que l�emperador rom� va fer cridar a Sant Jordi, que era soldat seu, perqu� li expliqu�s la ra� d�aquella gesta. Ell, sense cap mena de problema, li va dir que ho havia fet per revelaci� divina, de D�u i del seu fill Jesucrist. Aix� va irritar a l�emperador i el va fer matar per declarar-se cristi�. Tamb� cal dir que una llegenda de semblants caracter�stiques s'explica sobre Sant Mer, un sant molt venerat al Pla de l'Estany.

La representaci� de la llegenda a Montblanc (Tarragona)

La Representaci� de la Llegenda de St. Jordi, �s un macro-espectacle que es celebra cada any en la part m�s alta de la vila de Montblanc, en un marc incomparable, que �s el conjunt arquitect�nic del recinte enmurallat de la vila ducal, un dels m�s ben conservats de Catalunya. En aquest espectacle de llum, so, efectes sonors i visuals, pirot�cnia, i moltes coses m�s, hi participen m�s de 500 persones, totalment vestides segons els c�nons de l'�poca medieval, entre els quals s'hi poden trobar nobles, gent del poble, clero, jueus, etc... i els m�s importants; el Rei, la Reina, la Princesa i Sant Jordi. L'acci� de la llegenda se situa a l'�poca Medieval. El Rei, la Reina i la seva filla, la princesa, viuen a la vila en el seu palau, la casa Reial. A m�s, tres cases nobiliaries de la poblaci�, (la casa Aleny�, la casa Vilafranca i la casa Gener) seran testimonis de la lluita del drac ferotge amb el cavaller St. Jordi, per tal de salvar a la Princesa, que s'havia ofert a la b�stia en sacrifici a partir d'un sorteig que inclo�a a totes les persones que habitaven a la vila.

Pots rebre m�s informaci� sobre aquesta representaci� a la seg�ent web:

Culte, devoci� i festa de Sant Jordi a Catalunya

Els inicis del culte a Catalunya comencen quan l�abat Oliva va consagrar l�any 1032 un altar en honor al sant al monestir de Ripoll. D�entre les primeres capelles documentades hist�ricament que es van al�ar hi ha la de Sant Jordi de Lloberes, a la comarca del Bages, el 1053. No cal oblidar la capella de la Generalitat de Catalunya que data de meitat del segle XV, per la seva import�ncia social.En un principi, pel segle XIII, la devoci� a Sant Jordi la tenien principalment els cavallers. Per aquest motiu, van n�ixer diferents ordes cavalleresques de Sant Jordi, com la de Sant Jordi d�Alfama, fundada el 1201 per Pere II de Catalunya i Arag�.

La Generalitat de Catalunya en el seu dietari del 17 d'abril de 1456, va declarar el 23 d'abril p�blicament com a dia de festa i dos segles m�s tard, el 1667, el Papa Climent IX aprov� oficialment que el 23 d'abril fos dia festiu a casa nostra, tot I que avui en dia sigui feiner. Fa temps, era costum que es representessin obres teatrals sobre la vida del sant, balls i processons. Fins i tot, i d�entre les moltes curiositats que hi ha, es diu que fa molts segles era tradici� a l�Empord�, que els nois que ja estaven a l�edat de casar-se tenien el dret d�aixecar-se de bon mat� i entrar a les cases de les noies. Si aquestes encara estaven dormint al llit, eren convidades a la for�a a ballar a fora el carrer (encara que anessin amb camisa). Com ets pots imaginar, les noies, aquest dia, s�aixecaven ben aviat per tal de no ser sorpreses. Per qu� no tornem a instaurar-ho?

Patronatge de Sant Jordi

Sant Jordi �s per excel�l�ncia el patr� dels enamorats a Catalunya gr�cies a la gran gesta del sant de salvar la princesa d�aquell monstre ferotge. Sembla que Sant Valent� fa la �vista grossa� i li cedeix aquest protagonisme al seu �col.lega�. Tot i que alguns catalans ho celebren tant el 23 d�abril com el 14 de febrer. Per Sant Jordi, el noi li regala una rosa a la seva �princesa� i aquesta li regala un llibre.D�on ve la tradici� de regalar la rosa? Doncs la cosa no est� gaire clara, alguns diuen que va n�ixer de la "Fira dels Enamorats" que se celebrava a Barcelona pel segle XV. Amb certesa es pot dir que ja per aquest segle, el XV, es repertien roses a totes les senyoretes que assistien a la missa que se celebrava a la capella que el sant t� al Palau de la Generalitat.

Sant Jordi �s tamb� el patr� dels cavallers i dels escoltes. Se l�invoca a l�hora de beneir una casa nova i tamb� contra les aranyes. L� havien tingut com a patr� els oficis antics que intervenien amb armes i armadures. Els pagesos (tot i que ja tenen a Sant Isidre i Sant Galdric), tamb� el poden invocar perqu� els faci granar l�ordi. D�aqu� aquella pregaria: �Glori�s Sant Jordi, jo tinc un camp d�ordi fresc i gemat; feu-nos la gr�cia que arribi ben granat�. L'onom�stica �s el 23 d'abril.

Refranys per Sant Jordi

El camp, l�agricultura, s�n les bases de refranys catalans com aquests:

�Bon sol per Sant Jordi i per Sant Marc, podr�s beure el vi a raig�,

�Per Sant Jordi vigila ton ordi; si en veus una espiga aqu�, altra espiga all�, v�s-te�n a casa, que prou ordi hi haur�,

�Quan per Sant Jordi gela, mal any de peres�,

�No diguis hivern passat que Sant Jordi no hagi passat�, d�entre molts altres.

El dia del llibre

La festa del Dia del Llibre t� un or�gen a Catalunya. Va comen�ar a celebrar-se el 7 d'octubre del 1926 en commemoraci� del naixement de Miguel de Cervantes a inst�ncies de l'escriptor I editor valenci�, afincat a Barcelona, Vicent Clavel Andr�s que ho va proposar a la Cambra Oficial del Llibre de Barcelona. El 6 de febrer d'aquell any, el govern espanyol presidit per Miguel Primo de Rivera ho aceptava i el rei Alfons XIII firmava el Reial Decret que instiu�a la "Fiesta del Libro Espa�ol". L'any 1930 es va traslladar la data al 23 d'abril, dia de la mort de Cervantes. M�s tard, el 1995, la Unesco institu�a el 23 d'abril com el Dia Mundial del Llibre i dels Drets d'Autor. Cal recordar que un 23 d'abril tamb� va morir Josep Pla i William Shakespeare. Tot Catalunya es vesteix de roses i llibres. Els passeigs i carrers principals de les nostres viles estan plens de parades amb llibres i roses que donen un aire festiu i alegre a la celebraci�.

Envia una rosa !

A la rosa s'acompleixen dues caracter�stiques: el color vermell, que simbolitza la passi�, i l'espiga de blat que �s entesa com la fecunditat. D'aqu� que sigui un bon element per regalar a una persona enamorada. Si vols enviar una rosa a la teva persona estimada et recomano el servei de Ciberpostales Tamb� hi ha webs especials per aquest dia on pots enviar-ne'n: Com a curiositat, en aquest lloc web et donaran idees de com regalar les teves pr�pies roses fetes de paper.

Tamb� �s recomanable fer una ullada pel meu apartat de recursos per a enamorats on podr�s enviar moltes coses interessants, clica aqu�

Glori�s Sant Jordi, volem recordar-te com et recorda l'antiga tradici�. T� vas abandonar els �xits militars i vas distribuir els teus b�ns entre els pobres. T� vas abandonar els d�us poderosos de l'Imperi per seguir el Mes�es crucificat. T� vas abandonar la seguretat del teu llinatge per unir-te a la comunitat dels cristans. T� vas donar la vida per amor a l'Evangeli.Sant Jordi, m�rtir, amic fidel de Jes�s. Ens agrada recordar-te a la llum de la primavera i de la Pasqua; ens agrada recordar-te potent en el combat contra tot dolor i esclavatge.Sant Jordi, m�rtir, amic fidel de Jes�s. Ajuda'ns a enamorar-nos de l'Evangeli, aj�da'ns a viure aquesta fe que t� tan intensament vas viure, ajuda'ns a fer possible que tot el m�n pugui sentir la felicitat de la primavera.

Preg�ria de Salvador Espriu

Senyor sant Jordi,

patr�,cavaller sense por,

guarda'ns sempre

del crimde la guerra civil.

Allibera'ns dels nostrespecats

d'avar�cia i enveja,

del dracde la ira i de l'odientre germans,

de tot altre mal.

Ajuda'ns a mer�ixer

la paui salva la parlade la

gent catalana.Am�n.

Recorda que per con�ixer m�s �mpliament la hist�ria de Sant Jordi, pots visitar l'apartat en castell� de la meva web on hi ha un especial. Consulta'l clicant aqu�.





Saturday, April 22, 2006

Archdiocese Spares 6 Schools, but Decides That 9 Will Close

New York Times

N.Y. / Region

Archdiocese Spares 6 Schools, but Decides That 9 Will Close
Published: April 22, 2006

Mary George, the principal of Our Lady of Sorrows in Manhattan, broke down and cried at her home when she got the news: her school had been spared.
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Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Sister Nora McArt, a teacher at St. Martin of Tours in the Bronx, with Ricardo Tapia, a parent who helped in a letter-writing campaign. The school, among those that had been recommended for closing, will stay open.

Sister Nora McArt, a teacher for 37 years at St. Martin of Tours in the Bronx, leapt for joy after getting a call on her cellphone. "It was just hard to believe," she said, "after all that we've been through."

Last month, Roman Catholic officials with the Archdiocese of New York announced recommendations for a major overhaul of parishes and schools in the metropolitan New York region. In all, 31 parishes were proposed for closing, along with 14 schools; two more sets of schools were recommended for potential mergers.

But after listening to appeals over the past few weeks from all but one school on the list, archdiocesan officials announced yesterday that only nine schools would close � eight on the original closing list and one that was initially recommended to merge with another school. That meant parents, teachers and principals at six schools � a higher number than many had expected � found themselves celebrating a new lease on life yesterday.

"We are experiencing the resurrection for which we and so many have prayed and worked so hard," Sister Nora said.

Archdiocesan officials had emphasized early on that their recommendations were just that, merely recommendations, and that nothing had been made final. They have been giving both parish and school officials the opportunity to appeal their cases, advising them to come prepared not just with emotional pleas but with hard facts.

Officials for the archdiocese, which covers parishes and schools from Staten Island in the south to the Catskills in the north, have been hurrying over the last few weeks to make final decisions on the school closings because teacher contracts have to be renewed for next year. No timetable has been set for the parishes.

Catholic schools were on Easter break yesterday, so the news � both positive and negative � spread in telephone chains and e-mail messages.

At St. Mary Star of the Sea on City Island in the Bronx, the school's principal, Jane Dennehy, announced the good news on the school's answering machine: "We have received word today that we will remain open," she said. "We're all set to go, with a long, happy future ahead of us."

The news was bad, however, for Our Lady of Solace in the Van Nest neighborhood in the Bronx, where the television personality Regis Philbin went to school. The Rev. John Knapp, the parish pastor, said he had been holding out hope after what he thought was a positive meeting with archdiocesan officials. "It's very painful," he said. "It's like knowing that a loved one is dying.

You think you know how you're going to react, but you realize you're never prepared for it."

The sparing of a sizable number of schools on the list raised questions among some people about whether archdiocesan officials could have handled the process better, meeting with teachers, parents and principals from the various schools before making any closing recommendations.

"They should have done more research," said Audrey Cabbell, a teacher and parent at St. Mary Star of the Sea.
The recommendations caused panic in many school communities, setting off a flurry of rallies and prayer vigils, as well as angry accusations about the archdiocese's motives.

At St. Martin of Tours, in the East Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx, alumni rallied to support the school, members of the community dashed off letters to the archdiocese and parents gathered signatures for a petition to keep the school open.

At other places, the rallies and other efforts to drum up support proved to be to no avail.
"Angry is not the word," said Ina Allick, whose two sons attend Resurrection School in Upper Manhattan. "Outraged is more like it."

Ms. Allick helped organize a rally for parents and had been trying to get them to register for next year to prop up the school's enrollment. The school had signed up 85 students, she said, far more than what it had at this time last year, putting it on track to grow from its current size of 130 students.

"I feel we were railroaded," she said.

All the schools on the final closing list, as well as those that were spared, have seen their enrollments drop precipitously over the last few years, in most cases dipping well below 200, according to archdiocesan statistics.

But Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said the schools that were saved presented enough information in their appeals to convince officials that the dwindling enrollment figures could be reversed.

"Each school was different, but the overriding factor in each case was they presented sufficient information for us to expect their enrollment not only to stabilize but also to increase," he said. "The other schools, although they were very impassioned about their school, there just was not enough there for us to say this school deserves that extra chance to turn their situation around."
He added that archdiocesan officials would keep a close eye on the six schools that were spared this time around to "make sure what we now believe will happen actually does happen."

The officials began calling principals and pastors, many of whom had been waiting anxiously all week for word, early yesterday morning.

Mrs. George, of Our Lady of Sorrows on Manhattan's Lower East Side, said she began to weep as soon as she realized that her school was safe. Then she got off the phone and went into the bathroom and cried some more. She had been praying desperately over the last few weeks to St. Anne, her late mother's namesake.

"I'm going to church on Sunday," she said. "I'm going to light a candle. My mother came through."
Next Article in New York Region (7 of 18) �

CB9 Passes Resolution for Greene Building

Columbia Spectator

CB9 Passes Resolution for Greene Building
Board Deliberates Plans for Added Ninth Floor, Questions Phone Calls to South Africa
By Anna Phillips
Spectator Staff Writer

April 21, 2006

It was standing room only last night as Community Board 9�s newest members filled the seats at the general board meeting.

Of CB9�s 50 members, about 40 were present, along with a lineup of prominent city politicians. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer made an appearance, as did Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and councilman Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights)

Before Stringer�s arrival, Marcello Velez, who manages the planning of off-campus projects for Columbia, announced the University�s plan to build a ninth floor in the Jerome Greene Law building. The building was constructed in the 1960s and was designed to have a ninth floor, but none was ever built.

�Even though we�re adding a floor, there will be no significant difference,� Velez said.

Columbia has submitted its plans to the City Planning Commission, but in order to expedite the process it needs CB9�s approval.

Stringer welcomed the new community board members and spoke about phase two of his plan to overhaul Manhattan�s community board system.

�We�re going to do real training on land use and zoning,� he said. �People are starting to understand that they have to participate in the ULURP process,� he added, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Part of his plan involves placing at least one urban planning graduate student on each Manhattan community board by September to deepen the knowledge pool.

Although the resolution concerning the Greene Building were eventually passed, the initial reaction was not generous.

Tom DeMott of the Coalition to Preserve Community suggested that Columbia take eminent domain off the table in exchange for the board�s approval, while CB9 member Walter South proposed a different plan.

�It�s really a shame you can�t tear [the Greene building] down,� he said.

In a similar vein, Tony Rogers, the City College advisor on urban policy, and architect Jill Lerner gave a presentation on the college�s proposed Mind, Brain and Behavior Center. The architectural design plans include two science buildings and a central �green space� joining them.

�We want to establish City College as the premier science institution in the community,� Lerner said. �These buildings will enable a lot of tie-ins to local schools,� she added.

The evening ended with a discussion of CB9�s latest economic predicament�a $3,891 phone bill that included calls to South Africa and California. Members voted to table the motion and left it for the next meeting.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Eminent Domain Watch

Eminent Domain Watch
Eminent Domain: the power of a government to take private property for public use; the 5th Amendment of the US Constitution and articles in many state constitutions allow this practice provided that just compensation is made.

Eminent Domain in the news, compiled by Alan Krigman, e-mail:

To search for individual items by keyword, from the startup of Eminent Domain Watch in August 2004, click here:

Click here to read the verbatim text of the US Supreme Court decisions in Kelo v New London

Click here to read the verbatim text of the Michigan Supreme Court decision in Wayne v Hathcock

Current content– Click to view– See Weekly Archives (below) for earlier items
CU Paving Way For Eminent Domain Use: Columbia (University) Spectator, 4/15/05
Links to web sites important in the campaign to fight abuses of eminent domain
"...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."– 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

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Posted 4/15/2005

CU Paving Way For Eminent Domain Use: Columbia (University) Spectator, 4/15/05
Letter to State Requests Dialogue About Possible Condemnation, CU Provides $300,000By Jimmy Vielkind and Erin DurkinColumbia officials have requested that the state consider condemning property in West Harlem for the University’s Manhattanville expansion plan and have made a payment of $300,000 to cover the state’s legal fees.

The request was made in a letter sent last summer to the Empire State Development Corporation, a state authority that facilitates development projects and can condemn property for private developers using eminent domain, and signed by Columbia’s Deputy General Counsel Howard Jacobson.

Spectator obtained the letter under the Freedom of Information Law.

While the six-page letter is only a preliminary agreement between Columbia and ESDC and contains no specific promises to condemn property, it is the clearest expression to date of the possibility that eminent domain, the ability of government to forcibly buy property for “public use,” may be used for Columbia’s expansion and has raised concerns about how open the University has been in its dealings with the community."

Columbia has requested that the ... Empire State Development Corporation, subject to applicable law, consider the condemnation of portions of the Property not under Columbia Control and the transfer of title by deed, subject to appropriate restrictions, to facilitate development by Columbia of facilities to be used for academic, administrative, student and faculty residences, retail, parking, on-site energy, open space, a hotel and other related or ancillary uses and public amenities currently under discussion. This letter agreement sets forth the agreement of Columbia to pay certain costs to the extent incurred by ESDC in connection with the Project,” the letter states.

The document also contains assurances that Columbia will assume liability for any lawsuits brought against ESDC in their work, which was defined in the letter as “drafting, reviewing and/or negotiating ... restrictive deeds and land acquisition and disposition agreement(s) between ESDC and Columbia, and necessary or appropriate documents related thereto.”

University officials downplayed the significance of the agreement and explained that Columbia’s communication with ESDC is a necessary part of any development of the scope of the planned Manhattanville project.

“We have said repeatedly that the decision [to use eminent domain] is the state’s, and we are not prepared to take the option off the table. Signing this reimbursement letter was a necessary step to preserve the option,” said Liz Golden, a University spokeswoman.

The letter stipulates that Columbia will pay ESDC $300,000 to cover any costs incurred in conjunction with its work on the expansion project, including the retention of condemnation counsel. University officials and ESDC both confirmed that the payment had been made. The letter also states that if the balance of the account in which the payment was placed drops below $100,000, ESDC will request additional funds. University officials said that this scenario has not yet taken place, meaning that ESDC has spent no more than $200,000 investigating possible condemnation in Manhattanville.

The last paragraph of the letter states, “If the foregoing accurately sets forth our understanding, kindly sign two of the enclosed copies of this letter agreement in the space set forth below, ... whereupon this letter agreement shall become a binding agreement.” The space below is signed by Charles Gargano, chairman and chief executive officer of ESDC.

Chapin Fay, an ESDC spokesman, confirmed that the letter represented a legal agreement between the University and the authority. He emphasized, however, that it was preliminary.“Columbia University has asked ESDC to consider assisting in the University’s proposed expansion, which may include the use of eminent domain,” he said.

“ESDC is currently evaluating the proposal and determining whether any ESDC assistance might be appropriate ... No commitment has been made regarding any potential ESDC actions.”

In order for any above-ground condemnation to go forward, property must be declared “blighted” under the law as determined by an independent blight study. Such a study was not mentioned in the letter and University officials denied they had asked for one to be conducted.

Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, chairman of Community Board 9, said he was not surprised to learn that the use of eminent domain in Manhattanville was under consideration. He said he thought that any such move would take place in the future and that he had not been informed that Columbia had initiated communications with ESDC.“What is a surprise is that it has actually been contracted with ESDC, that they have actually paid $300,000 to ESDC, and that Mr. Gargano, without even deigning to consult with the community, has signed this agreement,” he said.

Reyes-Montblanc said that the relationship between the University and the community would be affected by what he called “a very destructive action by Columbia.”“I’m disappointed at Columbia, and I’m highly pissed off at ESDC,” he said. “Now we cannot trust either one.”

Fay called Reyes-Montblanc’s criticisms “unfounded,” noting there is “a very public process involved when we get to that point.”“We are not at that point yet, and no commitment or decision has been made other than to consider a proposal,” he said.Golden said that the letter’s disclosure would not change Columbia’s standing while working with community members and groups.

“The issue of condemnation is not new and we will continue to keep the community informed about our proposed actions in Manhattanville,” she said. “In any ongoing relationship, there are going to be areas of agreement and sometimes areas of disagreement. Our first priority is to continue to negotiate the purchase of properties in a way that addresses the needs of individual owners and meets the University’s objectives.”

Susan Russell, chief of staff to City Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights), said the Councilman was disturbed that Columbia had initiated communication about condemnation without informing the community. She said that, after reading the letter, he had called Columbia Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin to express his concerns.

“He [Jackson] didn’t know that Columbia had done this and he is disappointed that the Community Board did not know about this, because he thought that there would be more openness and discussion in this process,” Russell said.

“They keep representing to the community that they don’t want to go in this direction, and then we find out about this document,” she said, adding that Jackson “hopes there will be more transparency on Columbia’s part” and “expects much better going forward.”

Councilman Jackson, whose district includes the affected area, is “absolutely opposed” to the use of eminent domain in Manhattanville. “We do expect that people will react strongly to this,” Russel said.

Reyes-Montblanc also warned that the letter would have significant impact.“Those who know me know that there will be some kind of reaction, and it will not be pretty,” he said.

Columbia Spectator:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

CB9 Passes Resolution for Greene Building Board Deliberates Plans for Added Ninth Floor, Questions Phone Calls to South Africa

Columbia Spectator
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CB9 Passes Resolution for Greene Building
Board Deliberates Plans for Added Ninth Floor, Questions Phone Calls to South Africa

By Anna Phillips Spectator Staff Writer
Issue date: 4/21/06 Section: News

It was standing room only last night as Community Board 9's newest members filled the seats at the general board meeting.

Of CB9's 50 members, about 40 were present, along with a lineup of prominent city politicians. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer made an appearance, as did Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and councilman Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights)

Before Stringer's arrival, Marcello Velez, who manages the planning of off-campus projects for Columbia, announced the University's plan to build a ninth floor in the Jerome Greene Law building. The building was constructed in the 1960s and was designed to have a ninth floor, but none was ever built.

"Even though we're adding a floor, there will be no significant difference," Velez said.
Columbia has submitted its plans to the City Planning Commission, but in order to expedite the process it needs CB9's approval.

Stringer welcomed the new community board members and spoke about phase two of his plan to overhaul Manhattan's community board system.

"We're going to do real training on land use and zoning," he said. "People are starting to understand that they have to participate in the ULURP process," he added, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Part of his plan involves placing at least one urban planning graduate student on each Manhattan community board by September to deepen the knowledge pool.
Although the resolution concerning the Greene Building were eventually passed, the initial reaction was not generous.

Tom DeMott of the Coalition to Preserve Community suggested that Columbia take eminent domain off the table in exchange for the board's approval, while CB9 member Walter South proposed a different plan.

"It's really a shame you can't tear [the Greene building] down," he said.

In a similar vein, Tony Rogers, the City College advisor on urban policy, and architect Jill Lerner gave a presentation on the college's proposed Mind, Brain and Behavior Center. The architectural design plans include two science buildings and a central "green space" joining them.
"We want to establish City College as the premier science institution in the community," Lerner said. "These buildings will enable a lot of tie-ins to local schools," she added.

The evening ended with a discussion of CB9's latest economic predicament-a $3,891 phone bill that included calls to South Africa and California. Members voted to table the motion and left it for the next meeting.


Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 07:11:03 EDT
Subject: IT'S NOW OFFICIAL!!!!

Good morning everyone, It is now official. Jazz at Lincoln Center will be our music sponsor for our Hallelujah Public Art Festival launch on July 1st. The concert will be performed by the Afro-Latin Jazz band led by Mr. Arturo O'Farrill. The concert will be held at St. Nicholas Park in the plaza area at 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.This is a dream come true. I have wanted a jazz concert at St. Nicholas Park for a long time. And I wanted it to have some of the same feel as Lincoln Center but we have a real lawn and trees all around. Please save the date. We will have a VIP section for seating. Start spreading the news. And we owe alot of thanks to Ms. Celeste Beatty from the Harlem Brewing Company that produces Sugar Hill Golden Ale. We want folks to come out and have a good time!


For those who don't know here is some additional information:

Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
Posted: 2004-09-28
By Scott H. Thompson

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra is led by pianist/music director Arturo O'Farrill. He is a well-spoken jovial man with a huge aura of energy about him.

O'Farrill, winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. Educated at the Manhattan School of Music, Brooklyn College Conservatory, and the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College, he played piano with the Carla Bley Big Band from 1979 through 1983. Arturo then went on to develop as a solo performer with a wide spectrum of artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Harry Belafonte and Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis.

In 1995, O'Farrill agreed to direct the band that preserved much of his father's music, Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, which has been in residence at Birdland, New York City's famed nightclub, for the past six years. O'Farrill was a special guest soloist at three landmark Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts - Afro-Cuban Jazz: Chico O'Farrill's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, November 1995; Con Alma: The Latin Tinge in Big Band Jazz, September 1998; and the 2001 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala: The Spirit of Tito Puente, November 2001.

In 2002, O'Farrill and Marsalis created the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center. They will get national exposure October 18, 2004 on the PBS �Live From Lincoln Center� broadcast of the Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall Grand Opening. (Check your local listings.) Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, located on Broadway at 60th Street in Manhattan, is the world's first performing arts center designed for jazz.

I recently spoke to O'Farrill about his work with Jazz at Lincoln Center as Music Director and pianist for the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. �The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra is a hand-picked sister ensemble to the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra that represents the music of the Afro-Caribbean genre. It's really as inclusive and wide-ranging in its scope as anything we have in contemporary jazz. A lot of people think of Latin jazz as a subset of jazz, but it really isn't. Latin jazz is a sister, a sort of sibling. They grew up in different continents, but they follow a very similar timeline. So the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra has as huge a repertoire, in its specificity, as any modern day jazz orchestra.�

He says the seeds for the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra were planted a while ago, �We got together about nine or ten years ago, the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra played a concert at Alice Tully Hall with Marsalis. At the time I thought to myself, it would be really nice if the Latino jazz tradition had a similar set up. So I approached Wynton and asked if he could direct us towards foundations or institutions that might want this sort of orchestra to be a part of their ensembles. Wynton was very intrigued. Of course I never would have imagined that he, himself, would have embraced this orchestra and we're very proud of the fact that he did. It shows a lot about Wynton and his openness and the scope of his imagination. So he invited me to direct a resident Latin jazz orchestra, specifically an Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Cuban jazz orchestra as part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center family.�

O'Farrill continues the discussion on this musical family, �Jazz and Latin have their roots in dance. Much of the turn-of-the-century New Orleans jazz was born in dance halls and bordellos and speakeasys. The same thing was happening in Latin music around the same time period in Havana. The music that was later to become the equivalent of jazz in Latin America was being born in bars, cafes, and bordellos.�

He thoughtfully continues, �Dance music is very powerful because it unites the brain with the body. It really does. When it's well-crafted, dance music, in a very clever way, is the most consistent response to the dichotomy of mind and body. So when you listen to Latin music, Latin jazz especially, its a real synthesis of so many worlds. It's a synthesis of Africa and Europe and Spain...of intellect and body and mind and spirit. We need to let go. Latin music is a really good conduit for us to engage our feet without losing our mind.�

�Dance music is very
powerful because it
unites the brain with
the body.�
� Arturo O'Farrill

O'Farrill says he got a call from Fernanado Trueba, the great Spanish filmmaker of Calle 54. He was making a movie that was set in China in the '30s or '40s. Trueba asked O'Farrill to help consult on the film since mambo music was so popular in China during that era. It's still popular in China today as Mr. O'Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra visit Shanghai Concert Hall in October (10/6/04 & 10/7/04). It is their debut performance in China. Additional upcoming tour dates include: 10/29/04 Orchestra Hall-Detroit, Michigan, 11/10/04 & 11/11/04 Memorial Auditorium-Stanford, California, 11/12/04 Paramount Theater-Seattle, Washington, 1/22/05 Rialto Center for the Performing Arts-Atlanta, Georgia, 3/25/05 Wharton Center for the Performing Arts-East Lansing, Michigan, 4/5/05 University of Illinois-Champaign, Illinois, 4/9/05 University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 4/22/05 New Jersey Performing Arts Center-Newark and McCarter Theatre-Princeton, New Jersey. For their complete tour schedule, visit

O'Farrill confides, �Consistently, to my surprise, I find corners of the globe where this music is loved and played. It's really special. In my correspondence, I've received queries from China and Africa and Israel. People wanting to know more about this music, more about how to play it, more about how to perceive it, how to place it in their understanding of things. It's really amazing to me. I think it's because it has such a lovely synthesis of so many world cultures. It's Arabic, Spanish and Moorish. Latin music is such a great meeting ground of so many cultures.�

What New Orleans is to jazz music, so is Santiago to Latin music, O'Farrill explains. �One reason was the African expression in Cuba. There were generations and generations of slaves that had taken root in Santiago. It was a place where the music of Europe was intermingling heavily with the music of Africa. I have found in my travels to Cuba that there is a very easy relationship between black and white. It's a magical relationship and I say �magical� with a great deal of reticence because there is nothing magic about racism, but there's a love and intermingling and mutual respect between races that I've rarely found anywhere else.�

Comprised of 18 prominent soloists from the Latin jazz scene, (subject to change) the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra currently consists of: Arturo O'Farrill (Music Director and piano), Michael Philip Mossman (trumpet), John Walsh (trumpet), Jim Seeley (trumpet), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet), Luis Bonilla (trombone), Noah Bless (trombone), Reynaldo Jorge (trombone), Douglas Purviance (bass trombone), Bobby Porcelli (alto saxophone), Erica vonKleist (alto saxophone), Pablo Calogero (baritone saxophone), Mario Rivera (tenor saxophone), Bob Franceschini (tenor saxophone), Ruben Rodriguez (bass), Phoenix Rivera (drums), Joe Gonzalez (percussion) and Milton Cardona (percussion). (When these guys perform, they're always dressed to the nines because one of their sponsors is Brooks Brothers.)

Arturo's father, Chico O'Farrill, was born in Cuba. �My father was a brilliant composer. He was a brilliant orchestrator. He was at the crux of the integration of a lot of styles,� he tells us. �Phil Schaap, who is part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center family (Jazz at Lincoln Center Curator), put it
best at Chico's memorial. He said Mario Bauza introduced us to Latin and jazz, but Chico gave us its greatest expression. Chico gave us its intellect. Chico was often, mistakenly, called the 'Duke Ellington of Latin jazz.'
He's really the 'Chico O'Farrill of Latin Jazz. He was an important figure. He was very well respected, very well-loved. I was very touched to find that in his passing, that he had a much greater impact on the world than I knew. He was noted in such mainstream publications as Newsweek and People. He was mourned throughout the world in his passing but celebrated throughout the world for his contribution to worldwide culture. I'm very proud of him, very proud to be his son.�

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra has been busy all summer with their Mambo Madness Tour. Arturo says �Mambo Madness is our inaugural foray into the world of touring. It is descriptive of our philosophy which is to introduce many audiences in performing art centers and venues throughout the world to an overview of what the Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Cuban big band jazz tradition is. Mambo is the operative word because the first exposure that people have to this music is through dancing. Its a real meeting of the mind and body. Its a great experience as a concert setting and as a way to experience the total power that Latin music can be.�

On a separate note, I was surprised to learn that one of his musical influences was Jimi Hendrix. �I loved Jimi Hendrix!� he yells. �I never met Jimi. I never heard him 'live', but I drove my father bananas! (laugh) 'Cause I would blast 'Band of Gypsys'... I would blast that record in my room. My father had absolutely no idea who Hendrix was and there was a real demarcation of cultures and eras for us along Jimi Hendrix. I just find Jimi Hendrix's music to be the embodiment of everything that we consider jazz. He was just extraodinarily explorative, extremely innovative. Jimi Hendrix painted. In my opinion he was a colorist. He used music in a very visual way. He used improvisation in a very beautiful manner. He was a visionary like Miles Davis. His eyes were set twenty years ahead.�

You can hear the Latin influence on Jimi Hendrix's �House Burning Down� from the album �Electric Ladyland.� Mr. O'Farrill says the influence of Latin music is everywhere. �Really what it comes down to, and I think Hendrix realized this, I think Miles (Davis) realized this, I think Dizzy (Gillespie) embodied this and embraced this with his whole heart and being, is that Latin music and jazz are closely related. The Africa influence exists because some of the slave trade ended in New Orleans and some ended in Havana, those elements never stopped creating unbelievable music and embracing the cultures they ended up in.�

Scott Thompson is Assistant Director of Public Relations for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and has penned the liner notes for Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and Weather Report's 8:30. He has also contributed to Down Beat, Jazz Times and Jazziz. More about Scott...