Voices in Focus: Errol Louis to Host Ippies Awards

Errol Louis will emcee the Ippies gala awards dinner on Thursday. (Photo by Solwazi Afi Olusola / Amsterdam News)

* The Amsterdam News ran a profile of the “celebrity journalist” Errol Louis, who has covered New York City in print, radio and on television. On Thursday evening, Louis will emcee the Ippies Journalism Awards 2012, here at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. There’s still time to get your ticket for the event, which will feature awards for the best work from the city’s ethnic and community media, as well as food from six different ethnic cuisines.

* Last month’s city Health Department warning that unrefrigerated bulk tofu sold from bins in a Flushing supermarket may be responsible for two cases of the rare but potentially deadly disease botulism have caused panic and plummeting tofu sales at Chinese supermarkets, The World Journal reports:

Since the New York City Health Department on March 30 issued a warning alerting consumers and Flushing residents of incidents of Clostridium botulinum (Botulism) infections, which they traced to the consumption of supermarket bulk tofu, the word “tofu” seems to have become sensitive in Flushing.

Officials recommend disposing of all fresh bulk tofu bought at room temperature. Cooking or fermenting fresh bulk tofu will not safeguard against botulism. Pre-packaged, refrigerated tofu is considered safe.

* Michael Lesher, the attorney who has been fighting for years for access to the prosecution files on an accused Orthodox Jewish child molester, was denied the documents in court earlier this month, The Jewish Daily Forward reported. Lesher has been on a personal mission to bring Avrohom Mondrowitz, a “self-styled child psychologist from Brooklyn,” to justice.

Mondrowitz fled to Israel before police could arrest him on charges of sodomizing five non-Jewish boys. Advocates believe he also abused dozens of Jewish victims, most of whom were too scared to contact authorities.

District Attorney Charles Hynes has long argued that releasing his files on Mondrowitz could jeopardize a future prosecution. He also claims they might reveal the identities of abuse victims.

The court battle reached New York’s Court of Appeals in February. On April 3, the court ruled that the state’s Freedom of Information Law allows officials to withhold documents if they could jeopardize active investigations or judicial proceedings, the Associated Press reported.

The ruling may create an opening for Lesher to file another Freedom of Information Act Request, however, The Forward reported.

With extradition proceedings exhausted, Lesher believes there is no active investigation into Mondrowitz, and therefore no legal reason to keep the documents secret. The court appeared to agree.

“So now I’m going to file a new FOIL request,” Lesher told The Forward, “and eventually the contents of the file will be public knowledge, which is what I’ve aimed at all along.”

* The Indypendent  dug into the ongoing labor dispute at the Manhattan institution Strand Bookstore. The store’s employees union recently rejected a contract that would have frozen wages for a year and a half, increased health care contributions, and decreased personal and sick days, as well as created a “two-tier” system where employees hired more recently would have reduced benefits. The Indypendent put the labor dispute into context:

Retail, or “no-collar,” labor campaigns often face a skeptical public. During the Industrial Workers of the World organizing drive at Starbucks, people scoffed that these workers got medical benefits, so they shouldn’t complain. Retail workers are seen as having chosen to work in a sector known for inferior wages and benefits rather than taking a job in civil service or manufacturing.

“We want to fight the idea that you should just accept the fact that ‘I work in a high-turnover job, so I don’t deserve rights,’” McCallion said. “It’s a question of being treated with dignity, and not how someone’s profit supersedes an ability to make a wage commensurate to the cost of living.”

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