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Riverdale’s ONLY Locally Owned Newspaper!

Volume XVIII • Number 51 • December 15 - 21, 2011 •

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Outrage grows over ‘temporary’ rink plan By BRENDAN McHUGH As the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation continues to negotiate with the Ice Rink Events company to bring the borough’s only public skating rink to Van Cortlandt Park, their efforts to appease the community may have only enraged them more. A number of Community Board 8 members have expressed outrage over a new plan for a smaller—”mini”— 29-day rink that skips public scrutiny. “There are a lot of disturbed people,” said one member of the board, who wanted to remain anonymous until the general board meeting Tuesday night, December 13. The meeting at the Riverdale YM/YWHA, which is after press time, is the community board’s best chance to collect public input on the skating rink. The board scheduled—and subsequently cancelled—five meetings over the past few months as they

attempted to hold a public forum to discuss the larger, 15-year rink. However, with very few details, they did not want to hold a meeting. Community Board 8 has a resolution they plan to vote on during Tuesday night’s meeting that, if passed, would say the board “deplores DPR’s decision to circumvent the public-review process.” Another board member speculated that a different resolution could be submitted that would go further, possibly calling for the “mini-rink” project to be abandoned altogether. Instead of the 15-year seasonal rink, which the city wants to install eventually, this proposal is for 29 days only, scheduled through a city permit. Because it would be a one-time event, the city wouldn’t need any approval from the public. Questions have been raised as to where the money for the truncated program is coming from,

with some suggesting that it is the Bloomberg Foundation that is footing the bill so the mayor won’t lose face. Some of the information that has come out pertaining to this smaller rink has been about costs. Skate rental would be $5, and admission would range between $5 and $8. Operating hours on Sunday through Thursday would be10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For comparison, the Murray Memorial Skating Rink in Yonkers has $4 skate rental and $7 admission, while their hours vary greatly day to day. The biggest difference between the two facilities, besides the size of the rinks, is that Murray’s is semi-indoors while the Bronx rink would be outdoors, next to the elevated No. 1 train. There is free parking at Murray’s, while the Bronx facility would depend on scarce street parking, enforced by Continued on Page 3

RKA full of pride at first ever pep rally

Students were beaming with Tiger pride last week at the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy’s first ever pep rally. Hundreds of students packed the auditorium and gymnasium to celebrate their athletic teams’ upcoming seasons. Pictured here are (left to right): Lindsey Crowe, Courtney Segal, Karla Rehren Marincov, and Sergio Prado.

By BRENDAN McHUGH Tiger pride roared in Riverdale last week. The Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy held its first-ever pep rally on Friday, and the students showed up with all the school spirit they had. Hundreds of students packed the school’s auditorium, chanting for their school so loudly it was nearly deafening. And despite the loss to Mott Haven, 80-72, in boys’ basketball later that day, the entire event proved to be an RKA victory. “I’m just so glad I was able to celebrate with the kids,” beamed Principal Lori O’Mara after the rally, calling it a “fantastic time.” The students seemed to have a fantastic time as well. Many of them had body paint, with a trio of girls painting the letters RKA on their stomachs. Those who chose to keep it more conservative had on temporary tattoos of blue tigers or simply some blue and gold face paint. Students and teachers walked around with shiny blue and gold capes, and others simply walked around waving pom-poms. “It was epic,” said RKA student Maggie Burke. “The pep rally just showed how much Tiger pride we have,” chimed in fellow student Melissa Wright. During the event, the wrestling team, the cheerleaders and both basketball teams paraded on stage and were each introduced to the crowd. The wrestling team guaranteed both city and state championships. RKA wrestling had a 9-0 record in the regular season last year but eventually lost in the playoffs to a Staten Island Continued on Page 2


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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Principal applauded for ‘new tone’ at RKA By MIAWLING LAM After years of poor grades on city report cards, the atmosphere at the Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy is improving. RKA principal Lori O’Mara, likely in response to criticism for failing to connect with students, parents and teachers, has been communicating more with students and teachers and has introduced events, such as student-teacher basketball games, pajama days and coffee with the principal, that appear to have boosted morale. Just last month, the school took the unusual step of throwing open its doors to community leaders, local organizations and members of the press and giving the guests a tour of the campus. “Openness and transparency are very important, whether it’s a government agency or our schools,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who had a staff member attend the tour while he was abroad. “Principal O’Mara has clearly made an effort to reach out more to the community, and for that she should be applauded,” he added. The school has also been using Twitter to disseminate breaking news and words of encouragement to students and parents. The latest tweet was blasted on December 10 to coincide with the school’s pep rally. “The school is brimming with excitement for the pep rally and big game this afternoon...everyone’s donning blue and gold...can’t wait!” O’Mara posted.

First RKA pep rally Continued from Page 1 high school they had beaten earlier in the year. “Let the domination begin,” one of the wrestlers screamed in front of the crowd. RKA girls’ basketball head coach Will Cushing noted his team had made the playoffs the past two years, and despite losing a handful of seniors last year, he was ready to make another run. “We have a very new team and we’re working very hard,” he said to great fanfare from the Tigers. At times, the crowd grew so thunderous that it became impossible to hear anything other than the cheers and chants of “RKA” or “Tigers.” In the more lighthearted part of the rally, RKA’s men and women staffers were pit against one another in a version of Family Feud. Teachers tried to figure out the answers 100 of their students gave to questions that are often asked by teachers, such as “Why are you so late to class?,” “Why are your pants so low?” and “What makes RKA teams great?” The students reacted with great enthusiasm during the game, especially when teachers answered certain questions with their own good-natured humor, slightly mocking the students. One of teachers on the women’s team, the Femme Fatales, won the round for her team when she said the students say their pants are so low was because, in fact, “my undies are so high!” The Femme Fatales eventually beat the Macho Males in a lightening round. To wrap up the pep rally, students and teachers faced off in a basketball game, with the final score 23-12, students. “I guess there is nothing like youth,” O’Mara said afterward.

At Friday’s pep rally—the school’s first one ever—hundreds of students packed the auditorium with their Tiger pride to cheer on a handful of school teams. O’Mara commended the students for their enthusiasm and the teachers for their hard work, calling the event a success. “Some of that has been spurred by survey results an some of it is a need also to maintain better communication and help the students better,” O’Mara said in a phone interview. O’Mara added that she’s planning a handful of spring events that will involve the community as well.O’Mara recently accepted an invitation to appear before Community Board 8’s education committee next month. Additional reporting by Brendan McHugh


By MIAWLING LAM Fresh allegations – this time involving racial discrimination – have rocked P.S. 24, following claims that a school administrator made disparaging remarks toward staff members. The school is now facing a possible race discrimination lawsuit after interim acting assistant principal Manuele Verdi allegedly made racist comments toward two teachers. The verbal clash broke out on November 30 after each of the school’s approximately 15 parking passes had been distributed. The permits are issued daily

on a first come, first served basis. It is understood a male paraprofessional was holding one of the last parking passes for a female colleague stuck in traffic, causing Verdi to miss out on securing a permit and forcing him to park on the street. A person at the school, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said when Verdi found out about the arrangement, he allegedly lost his temper. “Manny had words with both on the street,” the source said, adding that at least one other witness was present. The source was unsure of what was

Outrage over latest ‘dinky rink’ plan Continued from Page 1 traffic agents. The rink would be about 45 percent the size of a regulation hockey rink. Some details still remain unidentified. “We don’t have anything more on the food, for instance,” Community Board 8 parks committee chairman Bob Bender said. A parks representative at last month’s parks committee meeting said food costs would be minimal but didn’t elaborate. As for Tuesday night’s meeting, Bender wouldn’t take a guess as to which way the board will vote on the resolution. “I never speculate,” he said. Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who plans to speak to the board about the rink, has been upset over the lack of opportunity the public has had to chime in about the plans. “The city has managed to turn something that could really be great for our

community into an embarrassment because of the way the city has handled the process,” he said. Dinowitz stressed that he would love to see a skating rink in The Bronx, though the city needs to reevaluate how they go about doing that. “Every community has the right to know what’s being proposed and a right to comment on it,” he insisted. He said he’ll tell the board that he supports a skating rink in The Bronx, but they need to let the city know that they will not accept being ignored when it comes to issues and developments in their community. The temporary rink for this season still has no proposed start time. The parks department needs to wait for Con Edison to upgrade the electrical infrastructure of the area, and they have no timeline for when that will begin. A Con Edison spokesman said the harsh summer weather set them behind schedule.

specifically said but implied the matter of race was raised. “I don’t know what he said, but there was definitely something and it apparently got ugly,” the person said. “There is no place in education for racism. Whether it’s colleague to colleague, administrator to teacher or child to child, it has no place here.” The situation came to light after the Riverdale Review received a tip from a person at the school earlier this month. The accusations have since been collaborated by two other sources. School officials did not respond to requests for comment. At least one of the staffers is considering filing a claim with the New York District Office of the Equal Employment

3 The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

Racism charge is latest controversy at troubled P.S. 24

Opportunity Commission, while the other has discussed the situation with an attorney. Tensions at the school have boiled over in recent weeks, especially after Principal Donna Connelly was forced to replace an uncertified teacher who was assigned to instruct special education children. The staffer, who was promoted to lead an inclusion class although she lacked the necessary certification, was swiftly removed once Department of Education officials caught wind of the illegal appointment. The school’s parents association then took the unusual step of issuing a written plea to staff members urging them to stop airing school issues to the press, an effort that some teachers saw as a veiled threat. A number of teachers, in a silent protest, deposited their letters back in the parents association’s mailbox in the school.


Around the schools... Next Thursday, December 21, the fifthgraders will take a tour of H.S. 141. Riverdalian Kim Johnson, a teaching artist with the Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center, has begun a series of lessons for fourth-graders on American history. Dressed in colonial garb, she visits classes over a period of months to present early American daily life through drama. Students write scripts in preparation for a play at the end of the project. Fifth-graders are invited to join the fifth-grade committee, which meets on Fridays in the lunchroom during lunch period. Committee membership affords an opportunity to have a say in end-of-year activities like parties and field day.

M.S./H.S. 141—Riverdale/ kingsbridge Academy

The entire high school attended last Friday’s smash-hit pep rally, with sports events featuring the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams, the boys’ wrestling team, the RKA cheerleaders, a skit performed by Ms. O’Mara and other faculty members and a finale with teachers and students performing the RKA Blues. Students won the faculty/student basketball game that followed. Winterfest is this Thursday, December 15, at 7 p.m. The community is invited to enjoy this performance of holiday favorites by RKA’s middle school band, dancers and vocalists. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door.

Horace Mann School

The community is invited to the Upper Division Holiday Orchestra and Choral Concert this Friday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Gross Theater. The orchestra, glee club, chamber choir, girls’ ensemble and string sinfonietta will perform works by Vivaldi, Wagner and Bach as well as jazz vocals, traditional holiday songs including selections from Handel’s “Messiah,” and a new work by music department head Darin Lewis. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors and $10 for others. Refreshments will be available after the performance in Olshan Lobby. An article by school librarian Rachael Myers was published in the December 6 issue of School Library Journal. “What Are They Reading for Fun?” reveals the reading habits of Middle Division students.

Manhattan College

The De La Salle Medal Dinner, an $800per-plate fundraiser this year, will take place at the Waldorf-Astoria on Tuesday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m. after a cocktail reception. The college will present John M. Dionisio, chairman and CEO of AECOM Technology Corporation, and Frederick W. Werner (’75), president of corporate development for AECOM, with De La Salle Medals. Dionisio and Werner have received industry-wide recognition for their work at AECOM, with both playing a key role in projects including the Second Avenue Subway in New York City, the Tren Urbano transit rail system in Puerto Rico, the State Highway 130 toll-way in Texas, the Metrolink Commuter Rail System in California and a $5 billion freeway system in Arizona. Dionisio tripled AECOM’s revenue and doubled its workforce while expanding service offerings and geographic reach. Werner is responsible for growth strategies in all AECOM business lines and ensures that the company is advancing technology and best practices globally. Proceeds from the event are applied to academic and cocurricular programs, scholarship assistance and library resources.

College of Mt. St. Vincent

College president Dr. Charles L. Flynn Jr. has been honored as one of the Irish Education 100, a listing of the nation’s most influential education leaders of Irish heritage. The list will appear in a special edition of The Irish Voice released on Wednesday, December 14, and an award ceremony will take place that evening at the home of the Irish Consulate General in Manhattan. Dr. Flynn was appointed president in 2000 after serving as provost and dean of faculty at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and as associate provost of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. Flynn, a historian, has taught on the faculties of several colleges. He authored “White Land, Black Labor: Caste and Class in Late Nineteenth Century Georgia” and co-edited “Race, Class, and Politics in Southern History: Essays in Honor of Robert F. Durden. Flynn now serves on the board of directors for the Grace Institute in Manhattan and on the Bronx Task Force on Historic Preservation. He traces his Irish ancestry to County Clare.

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The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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Chabad to host Rabbi Dov Greenberg Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale invites the entire Jewish community to a Shabbaton with Rabbi Dov Greenberg on December 16-17, 2011-Kislev 20-21, 5772 at Chabad of Riverdale, 535 W. 246th Street, Riverdale, NY. Rabbi Dov Greenberg is the executive director of the Rohr Chabad House, a Jewish Student Center at Stanford University. He is a sought after communicator of Jewish thought and spirituality, who has lectured throughout the United States, Israel, Europe & Canada. His essays on contemporary issues appear with regularity in newspapers and are read by many on the internet. Rabbi Greenberg is one of the ‘online rabbis’ of the international askmoses.com. He lives with his family in Palo Alto, California. We are pleased to welcome Rabbi Greenberg in connection with the 19th of Kislev - the New Year of Chassidism-and the most auspicious day of the Chassidic calendar. The day marks the miraculous liberation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi-the Alter Rebbe, first Chabad Leader (1745-1812) from Soviet Czarist prison, but this day signifies much more than his personal release from prison. This extraordinary occurrence was a watershed event in the history of Chassidism, allowing the Alter Rebbe to redouble his efforts on behalf of Jewry and Torah, and especially heralding a new era in the rev-

elation of the “inner soul” (Chassidut) of Torah. Please join us as we discover with Rabbi Greenberg how Chassidut created a paradigm shift so powerful it still impacts and transform our lives today. During the Friday night Shabbat dinner 5:15pm, on December 16th Rabbi Greenberg will give a lecture entitled: The Four Most Important Questions G-D Will Ask You. On Saturday, Dec. 17th at 10:30am Rabbi Greenberg will deliver a Sermon on What Is Chassidism? What Is Its Innovation? At the Shabbat Luncheon, he will speak about The Philosophy Behind the Messianic Idea; at the Saturday night Farbrengen at 7:30pm, Rabbi Greenberg will discuss Prozac for the Soul: Applying The Kabbalah To The Challenges Of Every Day Life. Friday Night Dinner and Shabbat Luncheon are $30 per adult, $12.50 per child and the Saturday night Farbrengen is $10 (suggested). Shabbaton Sponsor $180 single/couple and includes each event. To co-sponsor this event in honor or in memory of a loved one & for more information please call us at (718) 549-1100 x10 or email: Library@ChabadRiverdale. org. Space is very limited. Kindly R.S.V.P. by: Monday, Dec. 12th.

CSAIR to present author Lucette Lagnado

The Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR) will present a Lunch and Learn with best-selling author Lucette Lagnado following Shabbat

services on Saturday, Dec. 17. Lagnado’s topic will be: ‘From Pashas to Pariahs-The Rise and Fall of Egypt’s Jewish Community.’ She will draw on her two memoirs, ‘The Man in the White Sharkskin’ and the recently-published companion volume, ‘The Arrogant Years.’ Lagnado was born in Cairo, Egypt. She and her family were forced to flee as refugees when she was a small child, eventually coming to New York City. She joined the Wall Street Journal in 1996 and currently serves as senior special writer and cultural reporter. This program is cosponsored by CSAIR’s Adult Education Committee and by the CSAIR Havurah. It is free and open to the entire community. Babysitting will be available. CSAIR is located at 475 West 250th Street. For additional information, call the synagogue office at 718-543-8400 or visit www.csair.org.

Observe the night sky at Van Cortlandt Park

The wonders of the universe are ready to be discovered, and New York City parks are some of the best places to stargaze and explore the night sky. Our Urban Park Rangers will be your guides to the solar system, discussing the science, history and folklore of the universe. This time of year is among the best to observe meteor showers, the phases of the moon, and many planets of the Milky Way. Come to Van Cortlandt House on Saturday, December 17, at 5 p.m. Meet at the Golf House, enter park at Bailey Avenue and Van Cortlandt Park South. These programs are best enjoyed on clear nights, so please call ahead if weather conditions are not clear. Admission is free. For more information please visit www. nyc.gov/parks/rangers or call 311 and ask for the Urban Park Rangers.

Family workshop at Lehman Art Gallery

Join artist Barbara Andrus, who will read stories inside her very large, forestlike sculpture in the exhibition Sticks and Stones: Make nature-inspired art and ornaments to take home; Tour the exhibition with a curator. Come to the Lehman College Art Gal-

lery on Saturday, December 17, 2011 from 10:30 am to 12:00 p.m. Join in for cider and cookies. Admission is free. Lehman College Art Gallery’s exhibitions and programs are made possible with the generous support of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the New York City Council through the Honorable G. Oliver Koppell and the Bronx Delegation; Institute of Museum and Library Services/ Museums for America; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts; Lily Auchincloss Foundation; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation; Edith and Herbert Lehman Foundation; The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund; Target; and United Way of New York City. Lehman College Art Gallery/CUNY is located at Bedford Park Blvd West, Bronx, NY 10468. For more information, call 718-960-8731.

Holiday bazaar at Christ Church for last minute shoppers

Complete your holiday shopping at the Christ Church Holiday Bazaar Saturday and Sunday December 17 and 18. Hours are 10-3 Saturday and 1-3 Sunday in the Parish Hall at 5030 Henry Hudson Parkway at 252nd Street. Hand crafted items from local artisans, toys, games, jewelry, artwork, handbags, African baskets and handcrafts, clothing and many more gift items will be available. There will also be alternative Gifts of Grace with choices of chickens or livestock to benefit the needy globally. Refreshments and baked goods will be available. On Sunday, the annual Children’s Pageant and Lessons and Carols will take place during the 11:00 a.m. service. Everyone is welcome. Christ Church Riverdale is an Episcopal Church serving the community since 1866 and is a registered national landmark. Street parking is readily available. Church office: Monday - Friday, 9 a.m.1 p.m. For more information, call 718 543 1011 or visit www.christchurchriverdale. org.

Penny Social at St. John’s School

St. John’s Church will host a Penny Social on Saturday, December 17, at 1 p.m. It will be held at the Old St. John’s School located at 3030 Godwin Terrace in the Bronx. Donation is $5 which includes refreshments and 50 Penny Tickets. There is free parking available.


Please help us with our Toys for Tots Campaign. For the past 17 years, Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale has distributed toys, games and gifts to hospitalized children during the holiday season. Donations of unwrapped toys or checks payable to Chabad of Riverdale T.H.C. Campaign are welcome. We are also looking for volunteers to distribute the toys at the hospitals on December 21st, 22nd & 26th. Please call Deborah at (718) 549-1100 ext. 10 to register. Sunday, December 18th from 10:30am12:30pm, bring the family to Chanukah Wonderland! Join us at P.S. 24 (entrance on W. 235th St.) for a performance by the CELC Preschool Children and spectacular entertainment by Torah Tots Entertainers (kid friendly). Enjoy interactive Chanukah games, doughnut baking and decorating, face painting, Chanukah candle making and arts and crafts. Come along with your friends and family and join the fun! The cost is $12 per Child/Family Rate $30. * CELC Preschool families discount-$10 per Child/Family Rate $25. For more information please call Fraidy at (718) 549-1100 ext. 30. We will be hitting the ice on Chanukah at Central Park’s Trump Wollman Rink. The public is invited on the first night of Chanukah, Tuesday, December 20th, from 6:00 - 9:00pm. Register online at ChanukahOnIceNYC.com. Online admission is

$22 for adults, $18 for children ages 3 - 14. At the door, admission is $25 for adults; $20 for children ages 3 - 14. Special group rates are available. The Giant Menorah will be lit on the 6th night of Chanukah Sunday, December 25, 4:00pm at the Bell Tower Monument. Join us for dancing, live music, hot latkes, donuts and balloons. We will also light the Chanukah menorah on Tuesday, December 20th & Wednesday, December 21st at 4:00pm, Thursday, December 22nd at 5:15pm, Friday, December 23rd at 3:00pm, Saturday, December 24th at 6:30pm, Monday, December 26th and Tuesday, December 27th at 4:00pm. This event is co-sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale and Con Edison. For more information on Chabad of Riverdale and details for Chanukah events, log on to www.ChabadRiverdale. org or call (718) 549-1100 ext 10.

Restorative yoga class offered

Restorative Yoga Class with Grounded Growth Yoga will be held on Sunday, December 18, 5:30-7 p.m. This will be held at Sotheby’s Realty (lower level) 3732 Riverdale Avenue. Restore your inner peace and vitality to keep yourself grounded through the holiday season. Restorative yoga is a gentle practice that allows deep letting go of tension. Accessible to all levels, including beginners.

Space is limited. For advance registration email dannadurga@aol.com or call 347-313-8742. Cost: $22. For more info visit www.groundedgrowthyoga.com

Wilfredo Pagan named to panel for educational policy

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. today announced that Wilfredo Pagan has been appointed as the borough’s representative to the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), which holds approval power over the actions of the New York City Department of Education. ‘Wilfredo Pagan is a strong advocate for the children of the Bronx, and he will make us proud in his new role on the PEP. I look forward to working with Mr. Pagan to advance a strong agenda on education for the parents, children and families of the Bronx and the entire City,’ said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. ‘Every child has a voice, and I am deeply honored to be able to represent that voice on behalf of parents, families and the Bronx community. I am thankful to Borough President Diaz for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with his office on the critical education issues that face our borough and our City,’ said Wilfredo PaganPagan, a resident of West Farms, was born on September 14, 1971, in the Bronx, where he has resided his entire life. He is the youngest of seven siblings, all of whom have graduated from the New York City

Bela’s Best at the Simon Senior Center

The Simon Senior Center located at the Riverdale YM-YWHA, 5625 Arlington Ave. is pleased to announce a special one time group BELA’S BEST on Monday December 19th @ 1pm led by Izabela Ozlanska, an intern from the Columbia graduate school of Social Work. This session will be an interactive group experience which will focus on topics relevant to the well- being of seniors. Topics that will be covered include friendship, hopes, dreams, love and other pivotal subjects relevant to seniors. There is no charge for this group but advance reservations are recommended. Those wishing to attend are invited to have lunch at 11:45am. Suggested donation is $2.25 for lunch. For further information and registration please contact Toby @ 718-5438-8200 x223.

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7 The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrate Chanukah with Chabad of Riverdale

public school system. He is the father of six children-four girls and two boys-each of whom have also attended New York City public schools. His three youngest are currently enrolled in the very school he has volunteered in for the last six years, P.S. 50/The Clara Barton Elementary School, also located in West Farms. As the President of the parents’ association at P.S. 50 and president of the District 12 President’s Council, Mr. Pagan has represented the parent community in different educational forums that range from Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Councils, public educational hearings, the Citywide Council on High Schools, educational space planning meetings and other activities. Pagan replaces Monica Major, who currently serves as Borough President Diaz’s director of education and youth policy.


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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Thursday, December 15

Monday, December 19

HOLIDAY STORYTELLING 4 p.m. Spuyten Duyvil Branch Library 650 West 235th Street Stories for children ages 5 to 12 presented by the children’s librarian. For more information, call 718-796-1202.

GMAIL CLASS 9:30 a.m. Spuyten Duyvil Branch Library 650 West 235th Street Get a free GMail account and learn the basics of email. We’ll show you the basics and a few tips to smooth your experience out. Participants must have basic computer skills. For more information, call 718-796-1202.

Spuyten Duyvil

Friday, December 16 Riverdale

JAZZ LECTURE 10:30 a.m. Atria Senior Living 3718 Henry Hudson Parkway Join us for a lecture and musical presentation both live and recorded on the History of Jazz music and musicians like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Benny Goodman. RSVP to Jane Kennedy 718 432 2448 or e mail jane.kennedy@at riaseniorliving.com

Kingsbridge

Spuyten Duyvil

Spuyten Duyvil

BOOK TALK 11 a.m. Spuyten Duyvil Branch Library 650 West 235th Street Each participant briefly describes & shares thoughts about a book recently read. Discussion & recommendations are the happy result of this sharing. Come share your reading experiences with other readers! For more info, call 718-796-1202.

Riverdale

TEEN ADVISORY GROUP 4 p.m. Kingsbridge Branch Library 291 West 231st Street Let your voice be heard in the Kingsbridge Library’s Teen Advisory Group! TAG meetings will be held on Friday afternoons from 4-5 pm. If you are a 7th -12th grade student, you are eligible to join. For more information, call 718-548-5656.

BELA’S BEST 1 p.m. Riverdale YM-YWHA 5625 Arlington Avenue An interactive group experience which will focus on topics relevant to the well- being of seniors. For further information and registration please contact Toby @ 718-5438-8200 x223.

Riverdale

KNITTING CIRCLE 2 p.m. Riverdale Branch Library 5540 Mosholu Avenue Gather with other knitters and perhaps pick up a few tips and tricks as your work on your own creations. For more information, call 718-549-1212.

SHABBATON LECTURE 5:15 p.m. Chabad of Riverdale 535 W. 246th Street During the Friday night Shabbat dinner 5:15pm, on December 16th Rabbi Greenberg will give a lecture entitled: The Four Most Important Questions G-D Will Ask You. For more information, call 718- 549-1100 x10.

Saturday, December 17 Riverdale

SHABBATON LECTURE 10:30 a.m. Chabad of Riverdale 535 W. 246th Street Rabbi Dov Greenberg will deliver a Sermon on What Is Chassidism? What Is Its Innovation? At the Shabbat Luncheon, he will speak about The Philosophy Behind the Messianic Idea 549-1100 x10.

Kingsbridge

PENNY SOCIAL 1 p.m. Old St. John’s School 3030 Godwin Terrace St. John’s Church is hosting a Penny Social this Saturday. Donation is $5 which includes refreshments and 50 Penny Tickets. There is free parking available.

Van Cortlandt

BOOK DISCUSSION 1 p.m. Van Cortlandt Branch Library 3874 Sedgwick Avenue Join us monthly, make new friends, and discuss books from different genres. Call or Stop by to sign up. Book that will be read: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. For more information, call 718-543-5150.

Van Cortlandt

THE NIGHT SKY 5 p.m. Van Cortlandt Park Golf House Bailey Ave. & Van Cortlandt Park South The Urban Park Rangers will be your guides to the solar system, discussing the science, history and folklore of the universe. For more information please visit www.nyc.gov/parks/rangers or call 311 and ask for the Urban Park Rangers.

Sunday, December 18 Riverdale

HOLIDAY PARTY 11:30 a.m. Riverdale YM-YWHA 5625 Arlington Avenue Forever Young cordially invites you to our Holiday Party with brunch and entertainment by Corey. Call Leora Garritano for more information at 718-548-8200 ext. 204

Riverdale

RESTORATIVE YOGA 5:30 p.m. Sothebys Realty 3732 Riverdale Avenue Restore your inner peace and vitality to keep yourself grounded through the holiday season. Space is limited. For advance registration email dannadurga@aol.com or call 347-313-8742. Cost: $22. For more info visit www.groundedgrowthyoga.com

Riverdale

Spuyten Duyvil

HOLIDAY CRAFTS 4 p.m. Spuyten Duyvil Branch Library 650 West 235th Street Celebrate winter with fun hands-on projects using a variety of skills. School Age (5-12 years). For info, call 718-796-1202.

Tuesday, December 20 Riverdale

HOLIDAY SING-ALONG 10:30 a.m. Riverdale Senior Services 2600 Netherland Avenue Join in for a holiday sing-a-long with Gil Willis. For more information contact the center at 718-884-5900.

Kingsbridge

STORYTELLING 4 p.m. Kingsbridge Branch Library 291 West 231st Street Tacky the Penguin and Other Frosty Winter Tales. Stories presented by award-winning storyteller, LuAnn Adams. For ages 4 and older. For more information, call 718-548-5656.

Kingsbridge

CB8 MEETING 7:30 p.m. Kingsbridge Hts. Rehab Center 3400 Cannon Place Meeting of the Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board 8. For more information, call 718-884-3959.

Wednesday, December 21 Riverdale

AARP MEETING 12:30 p.m. Riverdale Presbyterian Church 4765 Henry Hudson Pkwy. West Lee Perry Gross Productions will send one of its experienced performers to entertain us at this holiday season. Refreshments will be served. The community is invited. For more additional information. Call Manfred Segal at 718-549-0088.

Riverdale

BOOK DISCUSSION 1 p.m. Riverdale Branch Library 5540 Mosholu Avenue This month will be discussing The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Book club participants must reserve copies of each title through the Library’s catalog system. Reserve your copy by placing a hold online at www.nypl. org or visiting your local branch. For info, call 718-549-1212.

Van Cortlandt

WINTER ARTS & CRAFTS 3:30 p.m. Van Cortlandt Branch Library 3874 Sedgwick Avenue Come and participate in arts & crafts projects. Parental supervision is required for children 5 and under. For info, call 718-543-5150.


By BRENDAN McHUGH The Henry Hudson Bridge has hit the diamond anniversary. On Monday, December 12, 1936, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and masterbuilder Robert Moses cut the ribbon on the Henry Hudson Bridge. Exactly 75 years later, the New York Public Library’s Riverdale Branch began its monthlong photo exhibition highlighting the construction and life of the bridge. The display includes more than a dozen photographs from the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Depression-era collection. It features a special section for schoolchildren that focuses on different types of bridges and the building of the Henry Hudson and another section depicting the community before the bridge was built. The Henry Hudson, with its 800-footlong arch, was the world’s longest plategirder, fixed-arch bridge when it opened in 1936. “Interestingly enough, when the final cost of the construction of the Henry Hudson Bridge, including the new upper level, was tallied, it did not come to the originally projected $15 million, nor did it come to the revised $10 million. The final cost was an astoundingly low $4,949,000. That sum was more than two-thirds less than the original estimate,” Bronx borough historian Lloyd Ultan said. Ultan opened the exhibition with a speech about the bridge, revealing details from its original plans to the effect it has had on the surrounding neighborhoods. “Incredible” was what Riverdale resident Michelle Metcovsky said about Ultan’s lecture, noting how much she learned. “He was very clear, very fascinating.” The bridge was first proposed in 1904 after Bronxites complained that the nearby Broadway bridge crossing the Harlem River ship canal was too congested, Ultan told a group of about two dozen at the Riverdale library. City officials originally hoped to have the bridge built by 1909—the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage—but local outcry from Spuyten Duyvil and northern Manhattan residents nixed the plan when they claimed it would ruin the quiet bucolic nature of their neighborhoods. When Moses decided to build the bridge in 1914, things began moving forward again. Riverdalians began complaining more and more about the difficulties in making it down the infamous hill that divides Riverdale and Kingsbridge to get to Manhattan. Congestion on Broadway was getting worse. Soon, the idea of a parkway was beginning to grow on local residents. To avoid the rage of the Spuyten Duyvil residents, however, Moses, in modern-day Bloomberg fashion, kept the route of the parkway secret for as long as possible. The bridge took only 18 months to build—an extremely quick timeline compared to many of today’s projects, one member of the audience pointed out. There was only one level of roadway at the beginning, in 1936. Banks did not believe two levels would be needed and therefore refused to loan Moses the extra money. However, by the end of the year, 17,000 cars were crossing the bridge each day, and the second level was built by 1938. With the toll only ten cents, the bridge

collected $620,500 in its first year. “For affluent Riverdale motorists, the initial effect of the Henry Hudson Bridge was to provide a convenient and swift way to get to the west side of Manhattan and to Midtown,” Ultan said. He also said the bridge did not have the initial effect on real estate development that many residents feared. It took until the 1960s for developers to take risks on Riverdale and to build luxury apartment housing. “It has now been 75 years since the Henry Hudson Bridge opened to the public,” Ultan said. “Without it, Riverdale would never have become the vital part of The Bronx and New York City that it is today. Thus, in many ways, the Henry Hudson Bridge created modern Riverdale.”

9 The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

Henry Hudson Bridge is 75 years old


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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Diaz survey measures ‘quality of life’ By BRENDAN McHUGH Riverdalians have lived in The Bronx for decades, wouldn’t leave the neighborhood, and have a positive outlook on life, a new survey conducted by the Bronx borough president’s office shows. Last week, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. released the results of his office’s first-ever Well Being Survey. The survey, conducted between August and October, was designed to measure the opinions of Bronx residents and those who work in The Bronx on a variety of issues that impact their communities. Approximately 1,900 individuals took part in the survey, which was available both online and in print at a wide variety of locations across the borough. Of that number 92.6 percent, or more than 1,750 individuals, are Bronx residents. Of the 1,900, 175 people—9.2 percent—who took the survey were from Community Board 8, which encompasses Fieldston, Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, and Van Cortlandt Village. “I am happy that so many people who are connected to The Bronx, either because they live here or work here, took a few minutes out of their busy schedule to make their voices heard on the important issues that face our borough,” Diaz said in a statement, adding that he will use the information to help guide policy decisions for years to come. In Community Board 8, 57.1 percent of those polled have lived in the borough for more than 20 years, actually less than the Bronx-wide number of 64.9 percent. However, Riverdalians are much more likely to own a home, with 48 percent saying they own compared to only 35.2

percent in the entire borough. Bronxites who answered the survey said that the three areas that need the most improvement are education, economic development and public safety/crime. The survey also found that a majority of those who filled out the survey, 64.8 percent, have either a positive or confident outlook on life. Riverdalians agreed that education, economic development, and public safety/crime were the three areas that need the most improvement. CB 8 residents have a slightly higher outlook on life: 72.9 percent of residents have either a positive or confident outlook on life. Riverdalians are also heavily involved in politics. Of those surveyed, 94.3 percent of all those surveyed in CB 8 have voted, and only 92 percent have voted since at least 2008, when the last presidential election was held. This is much higher than the Bronx-wide numbers that say 9.5 percent of those surveyed have never voted, and another 4 percent saying they haven’t voted since at least 2007. Also, CB 8 is better off financially than the borough as a whole. In that community, 50.3 percent of those surveyed earn more than $75,000. In the entire Bronx, that percentage decreases to 28.5. Also, only 10.9 percent of those polled earn less than $30,000 in Riverdale, while 23 percent throughout The Bronx earn less than $30,000. The 50th Precinct often has some of the lowest crime numbers in the borough, and it shows. Exactly 90 percent of those surveyed in CB 8 think the borough is safe or very safe. However, 35.8 percent of all Bronxites think their neighborhood is unsafe.

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11 The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

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Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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New Holocaust Center director expands role of her organization By PAULETTE SCHNEIDER Dr. Mehnaz Afridi’s forthcoming book, “The Shoah Through Muslim Eyes,” is bound to be a blockbuster, and the author gave a sneak preview during her talk last week at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale. Afridi, the new director of Manhattan College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center, was asked to speak at CSAIR as soon as word got out that she’d been appointed to succeed Dr. Jeff Horn. Unsurprised that the idea of a Muslim woman heading what used to be named the Holocaust Resource Center would “raise some eyebrows,” she welcomed “the opportunity to talk about that.” She began her scholarly yet personal presentation with an explanation of her preference for the term “Shoah” when referring to the Nazi Holocaust. “I call it the Shoah because I feel that it’s appropriate. I give the Shoah its unique place in terms of genocides. The word ‘holocaust’ has now been academically seen as a relative term.” Afridi is candid about the prejudice and misinformation promulgated in scholarly circles. She shared posts from an academic email group calling the Holocaust a “privileged genocide” that, if given “special status,” would be used “to victimize others.” She recalled a disturbing interaction at a conference several years ago held by the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE). As an active member of that organization, she assembles and moderates interfaith panels for conferences attended by women who’ve achieved distinction in political, humanitarian, educational or religious spheres. One such woman—fluent in four languages, an expert at Qur’anic interpretation, a champion of human rights—approached her and asked, “Isn’t it true that only 2 million Jews died during the Holocaust?” “Stunned and appalled,” she responded by suggesting that the two have a talk after the panel presentation, but the woman did not take advantage of Dr. Afridi’s offer. “This story epitomizes the many nods of casual acknowledgement of the death of 2 million Jews,” which is somehow more acceptable than 6 million and bolsters the concept of relativism in which the Nazi Holocaust is just another genocide. For this year’s WISE global conference in Istanbul, Afridi invited a kindred spirit in interfaith initiatives—Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn of Congregation Tehillah, where Dr. Afridi was also invited to speak as soon as she set foot in Riverdale. One of only three non-Muslims at the conference, the rabbi was one of three women who managed to overcome some odds to attain their religious positions. “My goal was to speak not Jewishly but as a woman—that was the commonality,” she said. But she observed that among the 200 women from 45 countries, “the diversity was incredible,” that “the women in Islam have a lot to work on,” that different countries have different issues and

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that “the main thing was finding their voices and supporting each other, having a forum and discussing.” Tehillah was eager for more visits by Dr. Afridi after her talk there on women in the Qur’an. “They want more,” Shriner-Cahn said. “When you find someone else who listens, you hear them, they hear you. Bridges are built.” In constructing her bridges and writing her book, Afridi hopes to educate Muslims about the Holocaust and about why Israel is important to Jews. “This project stems from the ethical responsibility that I have to speak out against false testimony,” she said. “As the Qur’an states, ‘let not the hatred of a people swerve you away from justice.’ To hate a group of people and to have a prejudice against others is a fundamental flaw of human beings.” “This project is about the Shoah,” she continued, “and not the politics of Israel and Palestine. Because I hope that through this book, Jews, through Muslim eyes, will be humanized and given their unique place in the list of genocides.” A by-product of Afridi’s interviews for the book was her own humanization—in her interactions with Holocaust survivors, she dispelled their stereotypical view of all Muslim women as oppressed. “It became an exchange,” she said. “They had never really talked to a Muslim.” Before the attentive audience let her go, Afridi fielded pointed questions. “Let’s talk,” she said as part of a response on the role of religion in the ongoing Middle East conflicts. “It’s a can of worms—let’s open it up. We’ve got to do this.”

RJC Women sponsoring theatre party

On Dec. 18, at 3 p.m., the Women of the Riverdale Jewish Center will sponsor ‘Shleimel The First’ at NYU Campus (LaGuardiaPlace). For information, call Gisele at 718-5431454 or Miriam at 718-884-9494. Limited tickets, $40.

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5625 Arlington Avenue,Bronx, NY 10471 718-548-8200 www.RiverdaleY.org *applies to new memberships only. Not to be combined with any other offers. Offer expires December 31.2011.


13

Mt. Vernon

BILL OF RIGHTS COMMEMORATION 10 a.m. St. Paul’s Church 897 S. Columbus Avenue An educational program marking the 220th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights. For more information, call David Osborn at 914-667-4116.

Friday, December 16 Rye

PARTY NIGHT 8:45 p.m. Playland Ice Casino Playland Parkway Live DJ, party lights, on-ice contests, giveaways and more. For more information, call 914-813-7059.

Saturday, December 17 Ossining

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT 8 a.m. Teatown Lake Reservation 1600 Spring Valley Road Give a holiday gift to nature! Help Teatown educators count wintering birds. The information gathered is compiled and sent to the National Audobon to monitor trends in populations and other conservation issues that impact avian health. Dress for the weather and wear hiking boots. Free for members; $5pp for nonmembers. Call 914-762-2912 ext. 110 to make a reservation.

Croton-on-Hudson

NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE 10 a.m. Croton Point Nature Center Croton Point Avenue A walk along the Hudson River for kids who would otherwise be indoors playing video games. For more information, call 914-862-5297.

North White Plains

STRESS-ERASING HIKE 1 p.m. Cranberry Lake Preserve Old Orchard Street Being in nature can help you temporarily forget about shopping that needs to be done, menu planning, parking lot headaches, and other things that can ruin your holiday. The hour you invest during this relaxing walk will be worth it if it can help you enjoy and not stress the holidays. For more information, call 914-427-1005.

Cross River

HOLIDAY DECORATIONS 1 p.m. Trailside Nature Museum Ward Pound Ridge Reservation Join artist Julie Aitchinson for this annual program where we will create beautiful decorations from natural materials. Co-sponsored by the Friends of Trailside Museum. For more information, call 914-864-7322.

Rye

WILDFLOWER ARRANGEMENT 1 p.m. Read Wildlife Sanctuary Playland Parkway Make a festive centerpiece for the holidays. Bring your own vase and make a beautiful bouquet using dried plants and natural objects from the sanctuary. Co-sponsored by the Friends of Read Wildlife Sanctuary. For more information, call 914-967-8720.

Scarsdale

A CAPPELLA AND KARAOKE 7:45 p.m. Shaarei Tikvah 46 Fox Meadow Road An evening of musical entertainment that will feature a concert by Shaarei Tikvah’s a cappella group SHTYX, followed by a no-holds barred karaoke evening. Doors will open at 7:15 pm and the concert will begin at 7:45 p.m. $10 will include the concert, karaoke, snacks, and one drink. For information, call 914-472-2013.

Rye

SATURDAY NIGHT GROOVES 8:45 p.m. Playland Ice Casino Playland Parkway Skate to the sounds of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and today. For more information, call 914-813-7059.

Saturday, December 18 White Plains

THE NUTCRACKER 12:30 p.m. Westchester County Center 198 Central Park Avenue The Westchester Ballet Company’s production of “The Nutcracker.” For more information, call 914-995-4050.

Mt. Vernon

HOLIDAY ORGAN CONCERT 1 p.m. St. Paul’s Church 897 S. Columbus Avenue A recital by acclaimed organist Kathryn Jones -- accompanied by soprano -- featuring classical music on the historic 1830 pipe organ, including some traditional carols and Holiday favorites. Refreshments served. For more information, call David Osborn at 914-667-4116.

Rye

FAMILY SKATE DAY 1:30 p.m. Playland Ice Casino Playland Parkway For 2 to 4 skaters includes skate rental and a large pizza. For more information, call 914-813-7059.

Rye

SURVIVAL AT THE SANCTUARY 2 p.m. Marshlands Conservancy Route 1 The naturalist will show you some hands-on techniques on what to do if you get stuck in the woods. For info, call 914-835-4466.

Mt. Vernon

HOLIDAY ORGAN CONCERT 2 p.m. St. Paul’s Church 897 South Columbus Avenue Acclaimed organist Kathryn Jones performs a holiday concert on the 1830 Erben. The recital, on one of the nation’s oldest working pipe organs, features classical selections as well as traditional carols and Holiday favorites, accompanied by soprano. For more information, call 914-667-4116. Parking and admission are free – light refreshments served.

Friday, December 23 Mt. Vernon

FAMILY HOLIDAY PROGRAM 10 a.m. St. Paul’s Church 897 S. Columbus Avenue Historic games, activities, music and demonstrations, designed for children on vacation from school, as well as parents, adults, and others. For more information, call David Osborn at 914-667-4116.

Friday, December 30 Rye

PARTY NIGHT 8:45 p.m. Playland Ice Casino Playland Parkway Live DJ, party lights, on-ice contests, giveaways and more. For more information, call 914-813-7059.

Saturday, December 31 Yonkers

WINTER STROLL 11 a.m. Lenoir Preserve Dudley Street Bundle up and join us on a winter stroll through the preserve admiring all its beauty. Come in from the cold after and warm up to a cup of hot chocolate. For more information, call 914-968-5851.

CORRECTION

In last week’s Riverdale Review, we stated that City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell had allocated funds towards a skateboarding park in his district. However, no money was ever allocated, promised or guaranteed. It was only offered as a possible allocation if the Department of Parks and Recreation would have agree to build the park. Depending on what the other Parks projects are in his district for the next fiscal year, it is possible Koppel will revisit this skate park and decide to offer up the money once again and see what Parks response is, his office said.

The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday, December 15


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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By BRENDAN McHUGH A former Bronx Science teacher has been resolved of an Unsatisfactory rating he was unfairly given, the New York State Supreme Court said last week. In an oral bench decision Wednesday, Dec. 7, New York State Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman granted the petition to overturn a 2009 Unsatisfactory rating for Peter Lamphere, former math teacher and UFT chapter leader at the Bronx High School of Science. The decision, Lamphere said, is a small step in restoring some of the damage done to the careers of numerous teachers at the prestigious Bronx school, where a deteriorating relationship between Principal Valerie Reidy and faculty has dramatically increased staff turnover

accompanied by a decline in the school’s national ranking. The decision rejects the Department of Education’s attempt to ignore scrutiny of Reidy’s administrative actions, Lamphere explained. The DOE disregarded a fact finding ruling by an independent arbitrator last April upholding claims of harassment by 20 of 22 math teachers at the school, including Lamphere. Even after Reidy abandoned the 2009 U-rating by refusing to contest Lamphere’s administrative appeal, the DOE still upheld the rating, forcing the decision to take the disagreement to court. The former union chapter leader appealed it first to the Department of Education, and then to the court, in July. “This is an alert to the Depart-

Riverdale Y presents ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ The RiverdaleY will present a new holiday tradition. They will perform the 1940’s in our first annual production of’It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’. Our talented cast, which will include staff, Riverdale Repertory company as well as Rising Star participation as they re-create this timeless classic for you: Taking it from the joyous film to our joyous stage. Complete with music, improvation, sound effects and more. The performances are on Tuesday, Dec. 20 , Wednesday, Dec. 21 and Thursday, Dec. 22 all at 7:30pm Please vist our website at Riverdalerisingstars.com. The entire community is invited to visually sit and experience a ‘live radio’ performance. The Y is located at 5625 Arlington Avenue.

ment of Education that they need to examine more closely what’s happening at Bronx Science,” was Lamphere’s first response to the news. “It’s outrageous that they have chosen to look the other way while the school adminstration at Bronx Science has undermined the learning environment at what should be one of the crown jewels of the city’s educational system.” Lamphere, a tenured teacher, decided to leave Bronx Science after receiving two U-ratings from Reidy, the first in the 200708 school year and then again in the 2008-2009 school year. Lynne Winderbaum, former UFT High School District Representative, said that it was a shame that teachers have to use the court system to get fair treatment. “But justice will be done whenever the abusive tactics of principals such as Valerie Reidy are exposed to an unbiased hearing,” she said. Mark Kagan, who voluntary transferred from Bronx Science as part of the exodus of 40% of the Social Studies faculty this year, added, “It was understood at Bronx Science that Valerie Reidy used U-ratings and denials of tenure for non-pedagogical reasons. I’m glad to see that the court saw this clearly. But it’s too bad for

the students that Peter and other good teachers were forced out of Bronx Science.” The first U-rating for Lam-

phere, from 2008, remains the subject of another case before Judge Paul Wooten, with a decision expected soon.

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17 The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

‘U’ rating of Bronx Science teacher reversed in dramatic court decision


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

18

Standing with the Teachers

It should be increasingly clear what all the fuss at P.S. 24 is about. There is quiet warfare between many teachers there and the principal of P.S. 24. These teachers have expressed extreme displeasure with principal Donna Connelly for two years running in the official Department of Education school environment survey, giving her a grade of “D” this year and a shocking failing grade last year, one of just 25 schools out of 1400 in the city to receive such a low score. A significant number of the educators at P.S. 24 have expressed an inability to trust the principal at her word. We maintain that any success that this school has enjoyed over the years came from these dedicated educators, many of whom have served through five principals. The teachers of P.S. 24 take pride in their work and deserve our praise and protection. In a system that doesn’t allow for meaningful public input and punishes whistle-blowers, it is often only the courage of our teachers that can be counted on to protect the interests of the public and the children. Just last week State Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman, ruling in favor of Peter Lamphere, a former teacher at the Bronx High School of Science, demonstrated how a principal with contempt for the rules can destroy the career of a dedicated educator. Lacking a meaningful way to express their opinions and concerns, many teachers at P.S. 24 have turned to the one entity in this community that they can trust – this newspaper. This is the reason behind news stories citing “anonymous sources.” These sources aren’t anonymous – to us. We go to great lengths to check the facts when allegations are brought to us. We have agreed to protect their identities to avoid what happened to Peter Lamphere and scores of other victims of “unprincipled principals.” We defy anyone to challenge the truthfulness of what we have printed. Our stories are accurate and have been proven to be true. That’s how we found out the kind of inside information that we and these dedicated teachers agree deserve public airing: • that the former principal at P.S. 24, Philip Scharper, was using his position to promote his Buddhist religious beliefs (he was forced to resign as principal and, while never brought up on charges, has not been appointed principal at any other city school). •that Ms. Connelly deliberately refused to fill an assistant principal vacancy for two years so that her close friend, Emanuele Verdi could gain the necessary credits to be licensed to assume the post. She was criticized by her own union, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators for this. •that Ms. Connelly allowed Mr. Verdi to pay for school purchases on his private credit card, in violation of Department of Education regulations, earning “bonus points” that benefitted him personally. This matter is under current investigation by the Office of Special Investigations of the Department of Education. •that Ms Connelly illegally released the names and home addresses of parents and children to be used in a politically-motivated mailing, violating the privacy of the . This matter has also been put under investigation. •that Ms. Connelly knowingly hired an uncertified special education teacher, a serious violation of not just Department of Education regulations, but state and federal law as well. Once an inquiry was made into the matter, the Department of Education immediately ordered the termination of the individual involved – before so much as a word about the incident found its way into print. There is a disturbing pattern of contempt on the part of Donna Connelly to ignore or bend the regulations as she sees fit. And while the individuals that she hires or benefits illegally may be delightful people, the next beneficiary of her “private rules” may not be. That’s why these guidelines exist. Things would be a lot easier if Ms. Connelly were to conduct herself in a more open fashion. Alone among the area’s principals she has refused to appear before the education committee of Community Board 8, a friendly forum that is hardly worthy of her fear. It would also be useful if she would be more forthcoming about the circumstances that led to her early departure from two previous principal jobs that she held in Manhattan more than a Continued on Page 19

Riverdale AARP Chapter to meet

The Riverdale Chapter 1546 AARP will end 2011 with its final meeting on Wednesday, December 21, at 12:30 p.m. at the Riverdale Presbyterian Church at 4765 Henry Hudson Parkway West. Lee Perry Gross Productions will send one of its experienced performers to entertain us at this holiday season. Refreshments will be served. The community is invited. For more additional information. Call Manfred Segal at 718-549-0088.

Rep. Engel urges investigation on ‘horrible’ disposal of troops’ remains

Congressman Eliot Engel said that the dumping of the cremated remains of American troops killed overseas in a Virginia landfill was ‘horrible;’ and those responsible must be held accountable. Rep. Engel has called for an immediate and full Congressional investigation by the House Armed Services Committee. The Washington Post reported the Dover Air Force Base mortuary, which receives the bodies of American service members killed overseas, had cremated some remains of soldiers killed in action found after other remains were returned to families. The ashes were subsequently sent to a Virginia landfill. ‘It now seems,’ the 12-term Democrat said, ‘that partial remains of at least 274 American troops were sent to the landfill between 2004 and 2008. This is horrible and unforgiveable. In addition, another 976 body fragments were also disposed of in the landfill.

Rep. Engel said the FBI was conducting a criminal investigation of the burials, and that a complete and thorough investigation was absolutely necessary to determine how this outrage happened.

Birding at Van Cortlandt Park

New York City is home to an amazing abundance of wildlife. From falcons and salamanders, to deer and seals, wildlife viewing opportunities exist yearround in all of our parks and beaches. Join the Urban Park Rangers as they search for winter song birds, waterfowl, and birds of prey. Come to the Van Cortlandt Park on Saturday, December 24, at 8 a.m. Meet at Van Cortlandt Nature Center (Enter the park at W. 246th St. and Broadway) Bring binoculars, or ask the Rangers to borrow a pair. Admission is free. For more information please visit www.nyc. gov/parks/rangers or call 311 and ask for the Urban Park Rangers.

Y needs creative activities volunteer

Adult Social Day Program seeks someone warm, fun loving and outgoing to work with seniors on arts, crafts and music projects. All materials will be supplied and you will be assisted and guided by the Project Coordinator. This is a great opportunity to do something wonderful for others and for yourself! For further details: volunteer@riverdaley. org ; or call 548-8200 ext. 261. The Riverdale Y is located at 5625 Arlington Avenue.

ANDREW WOLF, Editor and Publisher

Note our New Address: 5752 Fieldston Road Bronx, New York 10471 (718) 543-5200 FAX: (718) 543-4206

JOEL PAL Production Manager ROBERT NILVA Marketing Director

CECILIA McNALLY Office Manager MIAWLING LAM Associate Editor

STAFF: Robert Lebowitz, Brendan McHugh, Richard Reay, Paulette Schneider, Lloyd Ultan, Daniel R. Wolf

FAX letters to:

The Riverdale Review (718) 543-4206 or email to

bxny@aol.com or mail to

5752 Fieldston Road Bronx, NY 10471


Mistrial in Seabrook corruption case

The RIVERDALE REVIEW • Thursday, December 15, 2011

By BRENDAN McHUGH A mistrial was declared in the corruption case of City Councilman Larry Seabrook, but federal prosecutors vow to retry the career politician. “We the jurors remain deadlocked on all counts,” Jury foreman Frank DiBrino wrote in a note on Thursday afternoon. “Many of the jurors need to return to work Monday due to financial hardships as well as hardships to their employers.” The jury, which deliberated in Federal District Court in Manhattan for more than a week over a trial that took three weeks, told the judge, Robert P. Patterson Jr., in another note later on Thursday that it remained deadlocked on all 12 counts in the indictment. Seabrook was charged with falsifying a receipt for a bagel and Diet Snapple by changing the tab from $7 to $177, but defense lawyers for the career politician said the receipt didn’t have Seabrook’s name on it and that no proof could be made that it was his handwriting. Shortly before 3 p.m. Friday, jurors distributed another note that the judge read aloud in court. “We the jury have continued to deliberate and looked at additional evidence,” the note said. “However, we remain deadlocked on all counts and it appears we will remain deadlocked.” The counts against Seabrook included fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and other charges. He was accused of steering money to family and friends through nonprofits he set up and of receiving illegal kickbacks for helping a Bronx-based boiler company land a contract at Yankee Stadium. Had he been convicted, he would have faced up to 20 years in prison on each of a number of the charges and would have lost his Council seat. The case against Seabrook was rocky from the start, however. When Bronx boiler-company owner Leon Eastmond denied any “quid pro quo” involving his contributions to Seabrook’s political club, prosecutors were caught off guard. Later on in the trial, the councilman’s former mistress told the court she had dementia and couldn’t recall whether she had paid Seabrook kickbacks for scoring her a job at one of his nonprofits. He was also accused of directing up to $40,000 in illegal donations to his political club, only to pocket the funds by claiming reimbursement for expenses using altered receipts, such as the one for $177. Seabrook told reporters after the announcement of the mistrial that he’d been “hoping that the jury would come to a conclusion,” but that he would “live with what was said” and would “continue to keep the faith.” The veteran pol, who had stints in the

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Assembly and state Senate, also vowed to remain in his council seat, insisting, “I will be at the business of doing what needs to be done for my constituents.” He is, however, term limited and will be required to relinquish his Council seat in 2013. His attempted run for Congress, eyeing Rep. Eliot Engel’s seat in 2000, became quite heated and cutthroat. Though he received backing from then-Bronx Democratic Party boss Roberto Ramirez, he lost by a wide margin. The eight-woman, four-man panel included five African-Americans, four whites, two Asians and one Hispanic. Five jurors live in The Bronx, and one, from Co-op City, is a Seabrook constituent.

Standing with teachers Continued from Page 18 decade ago. The politically motivated clique that runs the parents association at P.S. 24 has threatened the teachers demanding that they not talk with us. This is an unacceptable infringement of the right that every teacher has to free speech. This small group of politically connected parents accuse us of trying to harm the school. If there is harm in the truth, so be it. There is far more danger in perpetuating lies. Just ask Justice Feinman and Peter Lamphere.

Lifeguards Wanted Take the Lifeguard Qualifying Test and make a splash by becoming a NYC Parks Lifeguard!

Call 311* or visit www.nyc.gov/parks. Men and women ages 16 and up. Paid training if hired. Full-time seasonal work at City beaches and pools. Minimum starting salary approx. $13.50/hour. *Outside NYC call (212) NEW-YORK. NYC Parks is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Thursday, December 15, 2011 • The RIVERDALE REVIEW

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Riverdale Review, December 15, 2011  

Weekly newspaper published in Riverdale, NY 10471

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