VIDEO: Bronx Chronicle Interviews Borough Pres Ruben Diaz, Jr.

The Borough President sat down with the Bronx Chronicle and host Coach Stevan Lynn to answer our concerns on issues ranging from FreshDirect to Gentrification.  Just what is the “New Bronx”?

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    • Kathy Canzoniero

      Congrats on a great interview.

    • Patricia

      Good that your publisher asked about the terrible subsidies to Fresh Direct. Too bad no followup to counter the vague items Diaz said. The community os concerned about the pollution of thousands fo truck trips, FD said they would have a green fleet since 2005, they have done almost nothing and they cannot, the refrigerated trucks have to run on diesel. The community was never consulted, Diaz was strong armed by Bloomberg and Cuomo and folded, there wasn’t even that flimsy Memorandum, they didn’t even deliver to the Bronx for goodness sakes!. The now over $140 million in CASH and tax breaks and free and is absurd. There is no Living wage offered though FD needs to comply with the law like other companies. There are better alternatives.
      Worst is the shameful slander he states of people have “ulterior motives” hen he knows that the people involved are caring Bronxites that have worked for years in many different ways to improve the quality of life in our borough.
      Let them stay in LIC, why offer one company $140 million and not other companies, it is not fair. And Fresh Direct are led by MILLIONAIRES with access to hedge fund capital. It is against the laws to offer them the subsidies when they have alternatives.
      That waterfront in Port Morris deserves better, imagine how great it could be for the environment and the economy!

    • South Bronx Unite

      Thank you for this interview and raising the issue of the Bloomberg era subsidies proposed to Fresh Direct. We hope there will be more balance and coverage of this important issue.

      This was put our by South Bronx Unite, the coalition of over fifty organizations working for the environmental justice, some time ago, but still applies even with the subsidy amount proposed changing and growing:

      Let’s be clear. FreshDirect doesn’t care about the South Bronx.

      Since its inception, the company never bothered to deliver here until it thought we’d be foolish enough to trade our health for its “fresh” service.
      FreshDirect is not a grocery store. It is a warehouse with a fleet of diesel trucks (not electric) hauling food to its primary customer base in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and prices are more than 40% higher than our local grocery stores.

      For 10 years, they have promised to convert their entire fleet to electric – for ten years this has not happened. They lost more than half their fleet in Hurricane Sandy (we know because they dumped them on our waterfront) and had the opportunity to replace them with electric. Did they? No.
      The South Bronx suffers an asthma rate eight times the national average. Our asthma hospitalization rate stands at 21 times that of more affluent neighborhoods in our city. The cause is no mystery. A 2002 study in the South Bronx linked our asthma epidemic to the diesel truck-intensive industries and highways saturating and surrounding our neighborhood. Yet FreshDirect wants to bring 938 more diesel truck trips through our residential streets every day and another 712 on weekends and pretend the benefit outweighs the harm.

      Talk about jobs is equally disingenuous. The $127 million subsidy FreshDirect seeks would support a salary of $93,000 per job they “promise” to bring, yet Bronxites can expect to land an $8/hr PT position because FreshDirect paid more than $300,000 to lobbying to be excluded from NYC living wage requirements. They have a long and well-documented discriminatory, anti-immigrant, and anti-union labor practices, and there is a current class action lawsuit against the company for more than $23 million in unpaid tips and overtime (and one of the representative plaintiffs is from the Bronx!)

      The public land FreshDirect proposes to occupy is part of a lot that lines the entire South Bronx waterfront, which directly borders a vibrant residential neighborhood (where our own Borough President comes to dine!) that has been twice rezoned (1997 and 2005) to make it more residential and encourage public access to the waterfront. The state Department of Transportation leased this land to a developer 20 years ago to provide a public benefit. The developer, however, has collected $61 million in profit while delivering nothing more than health consequences to the community from subleases to a waste transfer station, a fossil fuel power plant and distribution hubs for both FedEx and the New York Post. Given the health crises caused by these uses, Councilwoman Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman Arroyo, State Senator Serrano and U.S. Congressman Serrano all called for a moratorium on all new development, including FreshDirect, on this public waterfront land.

      Ruben Diaz, Jr., is intent on proving this is a good project (since he announced it as a done deal before the sole public hearing on the matter), but too many of us have become too familiar with grandiose proclamations of bold opportunities for the Bronx that quietly disintegrate after headlines fade, leaving only poverty, pollution and broken promises (while our political “leaders” own individual careers nevertheless seem to be boosted).