It has been around forever

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Lonely Amigo

Juan Gonzalez at the Daily News reminisces about the Four Amigos of the State Senate. As you may recall the Four Amigos managed to shut down the State Senate by threatening to vote with the Republicans or Democrats if they did not get their demands met. Three of the Amigos are gone but they did not leave for a vacation -- Pedro Espada, Hiriam Moserrate and Carl Kruger -- were all indicted. The lone remaining member is Ruben Diaz, Sr. But remarkably, their extortion brought Pedro Espada to the leadership of the State Senate, and eventually cost the Democrats the leadership.

Diaz Considering Mayoral Bid

Here is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. saying he is considering running for Mayor in 2013. He cites as his resume for the job these list of accomplishments: pushing for a living wage bill; his work on job creation; and his effort to build a hotel across from Yankee Stadium. It should be noted that none of these list of "accomplishments" are a reality--yet. The watered-down living wage bill is stuck in the City Council, we are no where close to getting a hotel at Yankee Stadium and the Bronx has the highest unemployment rate in the City. What do you think?

Liu Looks At Klein Law Firm Deal with City

The New York Post reports that City Comptroller John Liu is looking at a deal the City has with a law firm affiliated with State Senator Jeff Klein that is worth millions. The story reports that
"since 2006, the firm of Klein Calderoni & Santucci has received three contracts worth $2.25 million from the Comptroller’s Office to conduct so-called 50-h hearings — preliminary reviews of suits that help the city decide whether it should settle or fight. Until a few months ago, Klein was also “of counsel” with the law office of William Gallina, a small firm located in the same Bronx building as his Senate district office. Since 2007, Gallina and his associates filed at least 114 lawsuits against various city agencies, according to court records."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Klein's Independence Group Celebrates a Year

Here is a story from the Norwood News discussing the first year anniversary of the Independent Democratic Conference in the State Senate that was formed by Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein. The article reports that "To be sure, the IDC had a productive year. The four-person caucus—its other members are Rockland County Senator David Carlucci, David Valesky of Syracuse, and Klein’s girlfriend, Diane Savino, of Staten Island—managed to, collectively, pass 68 bills during the 2010 session. The 26-member Senate Democrats passed 103. IDC members introduced and passed legislation dealing with crackdowns on car insurance fraud, efforts to boost the state’s organ donor pool and banning caffeinated malt liquors like Four Loko from stores. The group also advocated for the successful passage of a number of high-profile bills, like marriage equality and the long-awaited ethics reform."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seabrook Corruption Case Ends in Mistrial

Bronx City Councilman Larry Seabrook's Federal trial on corruption charges ended in a hung jury. Despite what seemed to be a very strong case that included evidence of kickbacks by contractors and not for profits and the doctoring of reimbursement forms, the jury could not come to a decision on the charges. As the New York Post reports, the U.S. Attorney's office intends to retry the Councilman.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Deadlock Possible in Seabrook Trial

It looks like the guy that some refer to as Cash and Carry Larry may pull another rabbit out of a hat. The NY Post reports that the trial of Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook may be headed towards a deadlock. The panel told the judge on Friday that they can't come to agreement on the first charge. Late today that same jury indicated that it could not come to a decision on some of the other charges. Seabrook is on trial for corruption and misuse of public funds. I guess some jurors are not bothered by a $177 bagel.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NY Post Writer Says Living Wage Destroys Jobs -- Cites Empty Armory

Kyle Smith at the NY Post argues in an article that the living wage bill that is being debated in the Council would kill jobs at a time when jobs are scarce, especially in places like the Bronx. As evidence, he references the Kingsbridge Armory, which all but died when local politicians and some community groups insisted the deal include a living wage for all future employees at the site. That cost the borough over $300 million in investments and thousands of jobs both during the construction and for years after. One very telling quote he includes is from Councilman Lew Fidler, a liberal Democrat from Brooklyn. He said, “I think the problem that many of us have with the [living wage] bill is that we all like it in principle [but] the fact remains that that same principle guided our decision on the Kingsbridge Armory, and it’s still empty. Who am I to tell someone that no job is better than a job that doesn’t pay a quote-un-quote living wage?”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Former Bronx BP Carrion Pays 10K Fine

David Seifman of the NY Post reports that former Bronx Borough President and current HUD official Adolfo Carrion, Jr. has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the conflicts of interest board for failing to pay an architect, who did work on his house, while he also had a proposal to build a project in the Bronx. The architect did the work in 2007, but Carrion did not pay for the services until 2009 after questions were raised by the media. Carrion claims he was not given a bill for $4200 until after the work was done.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Former Seabrook Mistress Says She Gave Him Her Salary

The New York Times reports that Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook's former mistress testified at his corruption trial that in some instances when he got her a consulting job she gave him part of salary. Seabrook is on trial for stealing public money using various schemes.

Is Living Wage Bill "Absurdly Weak"?

A piece by Greg David in Crain's New York says that the living wage bill introduced by Councilman Oliver Koppell is so diluted that it's "absurdly weak" because it would only affect about 4 to 5 projects a year. The article states that after "facing intense opposition and testimony from businesses, which showed how so many small firms could be considered as having received a city subsidy, the proponents have scaled back the bill so it applies to companies with at least $5 million in annual revenue and that received at least $1 million in subsidy." Mr. David goes on to say, "yet bill sponsor Oliver Koppell says he is willing to make even more changes to accommodate the complaints of opponents. Really? What would be left? The key is that Mr. Koppell and his allies aren’t sincere. They want to pass a living-wage law, any living-wage law, and then expand it year by year as broadly as they can."

Ruben Diaz Sr. Voices Support for Walmart

Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. made headlines recently by saying that its a shame that low-income New Yorkers can't take advantage of those low prices at Walmart. He is quoted as saying "Although I deplore the violent incidents at some at some Walmart stores, I congratulate Walmart and Sam’s Clubs for their astronomical sales. However, I feel much more sympathy for the City’s poor who failed to benefit from Walmart’s bargains. " This is certainly a rare statement from city elected officials.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Diaz, Jr. Pushes Living Wage

Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News reports on a rally held for the living wage bill in the City Council, where Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. spoke forcefully in favor of the bill. Mr. Gonzalez reported that the BP was sticking up for the "other New York" and connected the bill to the Occupy Wall Street protests. The bill would require "any company seeking more than $1 million in tax exemptions or other forms of public assistance for a development project must agree to pay workers on that project at least $10 an hour. That's $2.75 more than the state's $7.25 minimum wage. " It has been opposed by Mayor Bloomberg, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not supported it in the past but said she was mulling it.

Seabrook Shaking Down Relatives

As the trial of Councilman Larry Seabrook takes it twists and turns, the New York Post reports that prosecutors say his mistress “is prepared to testify that she paid Seabrook cash kickbacks” that he “demanded” for getting her consulting jobs between 2002 and 2004." She will testify that she "gave him “thousands of dollars” in cash from the $9,600 a shady Bronx pharmacy paid her after Seabrook arranged for her to do “lobbying or consulting work” in early 2003."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seabrook Trial Brings in Bronx Power Broker

This story from the New York Times provides an update on the latest news from the trial of Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook. Yesterday the trial's guest witness was Bronx County's most politically connected lawyer Stanely Schlein. Schlein is a consultant for the Yankees and was called to testify about Seabrook's lobbying efforts on behalf of a Bronx boiler company looking to do business with the Yankees. All interesting inside baseball for you political junkies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Diaz Sr. Calls Out NY Post Reporter Candice Giove

A recent article from On Top Magazine quotes State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. as saying that NY Post reporter Candice Giove "disregarded" what he said about a gay rights group moving into a building named after him. Giove, who formerly was a mud-slinger for the Riverdale Review, quoted an "unnamed" source as saying that Diaz was furious that Bronx Pride was moving into Rev. Ruben Diaz Gardens. In a statement released on Monday, Diaz said Bronx Pride's move honored his work. “I was surprised to read today's New York Post's sensational story by Candice Giove because she completely disregarded what I specifically said to her about Bronx Pride moving in to the Rev. Ruben Diaz Gardens building.” Good to see that Giove is using all the tricks of the trade she learned from Andy Wolf at the Riverdale Review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Klein's Dem. Gang Makes Deal with GOP

Kenneth Lovett of the NY Daily News reports that State Senator Jeff Klein and his three other Democrats who formed an independent caucus have been rewarded with coveted chairmanship positions and would not get strong Republican challenges. Klein and the three other Democrats -- Diane Savino of Staten Island, freshman David Carlucci of Rockland County and David Valesky of Syracuse — have worked closely with the Senate GOP over the past year. This group has a lot of influence in the Senate because the Republicans hold a slim 2 seat majority. They have said they will not support Democratic Leader John Sampson if the Dems win back the Senate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bronx BPs Running for Citywide Office?

Roberto Perez, over at the Perez Notes, looks at the possibilty that the current and former Bronx Borough President's could both be running for citywide office. He reports that former BP Adolfo Carrion Jr., is a possible Mayoral candidate, while current BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. could also be eyeing a citywide office but has not made any final decision. A run by either or both could lead to some very interesting dynamics in 2013.

Battle Begins to Replace Seabrook

He may still be in office, but the seat held by indicted Councilman Larry Seabrook is already drawing a crowd. As reported in this story by Chris Bragg at City Hall News, at least five people are eyeing the seat. Bragg reports that "community activist and union organizer Jerome Rice, has led rallies calling for Seabrook to resign. Others who have created committees include civil rights activist Andy King – who along with Rice ran unsuccessfully in 2009 against Seabrook and would have pre-existing name recognition – Cheryl Simmons-Oliver, Michael Welch and Pamela Johnson. (Only King and Simmons-Oliver both had raised any money for a run as of the July filings). " Seabrook's trial is just getting under way almost two years since he was indicted on federal charges for allegedly bilking taxpayer-funded nonprofits – and forging a receipt for a $177 bagel and soda.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Diaz Proposes Bailout for Yankee Parking Lot Owners

Here is a piece in the NY Post by Nicole Gelinas about Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.'s proposal to bailout the company that operates the parking garage at Yankee Stadium. The company, the Bronx Parking Development Co, borrowed $230 million to build the lot through the issuance of bonds. Now that the company is close to defaulting on those bonds, Diaz is pushing to build a hotel on the site. His proposal would call for the hotel bailing out the parking lot company, and that hotel company getting multi-million dollar subsidies. Gelinas says of the proposal, "Diaz’s proposal relies on fear of a bond-market panic, which would force another 2008-style bailout of sophisticated investors. Apparently, such bailouts are OK as long as they come in the form of useful goodies, like the promise of taxpayer-subsidized construction jobs for Bronx voters."

Monday, October 17, 2011

City Hall News Profiles Potential Citywide Latino Leaders

Laura Nahmias at City Hall News profiled the prospects for a number of latino leaders in the upcoming Citywide elections. In the article she expresses some doubt as to whether anyone can pull it together for the 2013 elections. She writes "Others suggested that the city’s best Latino leadership was being groomed for state and federal office rather than citywide positions. Rising stars like Sens. Gustavo Rivera and Adriano Espaillat are said to have sidestepped city office altogether, leaving an age gap between older machine politicians and the young Latinos now filling the City Council. Espaillat, for example, is said to be considering running for a seat in Congress. The federal level has its advantages: Politicians can control funds for their districts without having to kiss the rings of local Democratic Party leaders." Of Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, she says "One potential candidate to be the first is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who is young, charismatic and experienced but is little-known outside the Bronx—except for helping kill a plan to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory in a dispute over wages there." 2013 should be an interesting year.

Seabrook Trial Gets Under Way

Courtney Gross over at NY 1 reports that Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook's trial is about to get under way a year after his indictment. She reports that "Seabrook is charged with getting kickbacks from this Bronx contractor to help secure work at the new Yankee Stadium. He also allegedly steered City Council earmarks to nonprofits that he controlled and where he installed friends and family in so-called “no-show” jobs." Seabrook is the guy who reportedly paid a $144 for a bagel.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dinowitz Touts Ranking by Conservatives and Heads Off to Russia

Here is a piece from Captial Tonight blog where Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz brags about his near last ranking by the state's Conservative Party. The party gave him a 16 percent rating based on his votes on 24 key bills. He voted yes on bills such as extending unemployment benefits, legalizing same-sex marriage, raising the maximum retirement age for judges, mandating microstamping of ammunition for semiautomatic pistols, requiring backseat passengers under 16 to wear seat belts, etc. In another bit of news involving Assemblyman Dinowitz, this article from the Queens Gazette reports that he was on a recent junket to Russia with fellow members of the Assembly--the photo to the left is a shot of their visit. I am sure there is a lot that can be applied from Russia to New York State politics.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mayor Chides Diaz on Armory

Here is a piece that appeared on NY 1 where Mayor Bloomberg chides Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. for his lack of a plan for the Kingsbridge Armory after Diaz helped to kill a prior investment of over $300 million. The Mayor is quoted as saying, "Related Companies wanted to go and build there. There was this craziness that they had to guarantee that whoever they leased space to would pay prevailing wages,". But his most pointed comment came when he said, "The borough president said he was going to find solutions and he was going to find people to come in. Well that went nowhere." Diaz responded, "I have no regrets about what happened before. There has got to be a better way to develop the armory,". What do you think?

Klein Wants to Make Cyberbullying a Felony

Here is an article from the NY Post about a bill introduced by State Senator Jeff Klein to make cyberbullying a felony. This comes in wake of a recent suicide of a 14 year old boy from Buffalo who was taunted online for being gay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where is Marble Hill?

Here is an interesting piece in City Hall News about the interesting political status that Marble Hill enjoys (or suffers under). As the article explains, parts of Marble Hill are in Manhattan and parts are in the Bronx. In addition, it intersects multiple Council and Assembly districts. All together, Marble Hill is represented in the Assemblyman by Jeff Dinowitz, Jose Rivera and Guillermo Linares. In the City Council it parts are represented by Oliver Koppell, Fernando Cabrera, and Ydanis Rodriquez. Given that most of it is officially in Manhattan, their Borough President is Scott Stringer. Now that is a crazy mess.

Seabrook Funneled Money to Family and Girlfriend

Here is a Daily News article about Councilman Larry Seabrook employing family and funneling money to a not for profit that employs his girlfriend. Seabrook is under indictment for using taxpayer dollars for personal expenses.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Independent Democrat Group Denies Deal with Senate Republicans

Here is an article from Capitol Tonight Blog discussing whether the Independent Democratic Conference, a group founded by Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein, made a deal with the State Senate Republicans on redistricting.

Should Public Decide How to Spend Public Dollars?

Here is a unique idea by four members of the City Council who are proposing to let members of the community decide how they will spend their descretionary funding. Under the proposal, constituents in each of the four Council districts will be enlisted to develop and choose among proposals for local capital projects like street repairs, new parks and public artworks. Three Democrats, Brad Lander and Jumaane D. Williams of Brooklyn, and Melissa Mark-Viverito of Manhattan, and one Republican, Eric Ulrich of Queens, are taking part. The spending could be worth millions of dollars. The question is will others follow? Of course, this is our money they get to hand out like they are druken sailors.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jeff Klein Spends $1 Million on Staff

Former Riverdale Review hack reporter Candice Giove is still slinging mud with a piece in the New York Post about State Senator Jeff Klein's million dollar payroll. The story claims that Klein got more than double the normal staff allotment for his role in creating a breakaway Democratic group called the Independent Democratic Conference, which has at times voted with the Republicans.

Did 9/11 Cost Ferrer the Mayoralty?

Here is an article from the Huffington Post that postulates that had 9/11 not occurred former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer would have been Mayor of New York. Over the years I have seen countless articles that point to 9/11 to justify an election win or loss in New York because of changed dynamics after the attack, but I have never been able to see how it helped or hurt one candidate more than another. What do you think?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Koppell Backs Measure to Help Potheads

Councilman Oliver Koppell and his buddies in the City Council have found another great cause to get excited about -- stopping the police from busting pot smokers. In New York, carrying a small, concealed amount of marijuana — less than 25 grams, or seven-eighths of an ounce — is a violation, punishable by a $100 fine. But under current state law, the violation becomes a criminal offense when the drug is brought into the open, even when this happens only after the police ask people they stop to empty their pockets or purses. The Council resolution, co-sponsored by Koppell, supports an effort in the state legislature to reclassify the public display of small amounts of pot as a violation. What will they think of next?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quinn, Seabrook and the Slush Fund Scandal

Here is a piece by Harry Siegal at the Village Voice about the continuing fallout from the City Council slush fund scandal and how it will impact the Mayoral prospects for Speaker Christine Quinn. There is also a cameo by our very own Cash and Carry Larry Seabrook.

Senator Klein Pushes for Enforcement of Foreclosure Cleanup

The Real Deal reports that State Senator Jeff Klein is pushing for enforcement of a law he wrote dealing with the upkeep of foreclosed apartments. Under the law the owners are required to maintain the property after foreclosure, but the Senator is claiming that too many owners are not complying and that could have led to a fatal fire in the Bronx.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bronx Freshman Assemblyman Tops Per Diem List

This article reports that freshman Assemblyman Eric A. Stevenson (who represents the Morrisania & East Tremont sections in the Bronx) was at the top of the list in terms of the amount of money he was reimbursed for meals and travel to Albany. Assemblyman Stevenson was reimbursed a total of $26,468 this year. Overall, lawmakers received nearly $3 million in reimbursements, with most averaging about $13,000.

Espada Doled Out Most Cash to Staff

The New York Post reports that former State Senator Pedro Espada, who is now under indictment, was the most generous boss in Albany. In just the last three months of 2010, Espada spent more than $750,000 on staff -- which was more than any other Senator for a full six month period. You have to ask yourself, who was watching the store here?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rivera and Seabrook Head List of Absentee Council Members

Looks like the Bronx delegation is a leader when is comes to missing Council meetings. The Daily News reports that Councilmembers Larry Seabrook and Joel Rivera are in the top 5 when it comes to missing Council meetings. Seabrook, who is under indictment for fraud, missed 27 percent of the meetings while Rivera, who is the Majority Leader and gets an extra $23,000 stipend on top of his $112,000 pay, missed 19 percent.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Doggy Wedding for BP's

Here is a New York Post article about Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz but it is really about role of borough presidents. The article details some of the unusual events that BP's preside over -- such as a dog wedding -- and it sets forth the costs to run these offices. For example, they cost $23 million for staff and to operate their offices, they dole out $63 million in capital cash to their pet programs, and BP's pull down $160,000 in salary. Markowitz's office employs 66 people, including three chauffeurs, the most of any borough president. After their role was severely diminished with the 1989 elimination of the Board of Estimate, the article points out that "the role of a borough president includes appointing community board members, making budget recommendations, issuing advisory opinions on land-use matters and producing official maps. " What do you think about these offices?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bronx Boss to Select Election Boss

Here is an article by former Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benjamin in the New York Post about the convoluted way that the head of the Board of Elections is selected. In this instance, a deal was made to allow the Bronx Boss, Assemblyman Carl Heastie, to select the person. However, that deal fell apart when the Staten Island Election Commissioner, who was going to provide the needed vote, resigned to run for DA. Now there could be a vacancy for a while in this important position. This quote from Mr. Benjamin says it all, "our modern elections are far too important to remain a vestige of a bygone political era. It's time to free our election process from patronage control by the two major political parties. "

Thursday, July 21, 2011

As Stringer Calls for Elimination of Pork, Diaz Hands Out $13 Million

Here is an article from the Daily News pointing out that just one day after Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called for the elimination of member items or pork, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. announced that he was handing out $13 million to Bronx organizations. Diaz's office said they are in the process of examining Stringer's report. My bet is that Stringer will be the only major politician in this City to take this position.

Engel Talks Tough on Budget

Here is Congressman Eliot Engel talking tough to Nancy Pelosi regarding the proposed budget deal that could cost NY a billion dollars in Medicare funds. Engel is quoted in the Daily News as saying, "We served notice on Pelosi that we are not going to support this," Engel said. "This would mean tremendous cuts in health care services in New York and massive losses of jobs . . . I'm determined to beat it back." Tough words from a guy primarily known for getting to the State of the Union address hours early to snag an aisle seat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Council Members Rack up Debt -- Koppell Near Top of List

Despite a salary of over $112,000 for a part-time job, many members of the City Council seem to still rack up a good amount of credit card debt. The categories are so ridiculously broad that it can be hard to determine what they really owe, but one Councilman from Brooklyn (Jumane Williams) has debt of between $35,000 to $308,000. Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell lists $160,000 on 3 credit cards. His comment was "I get offers for zero percent interest," he said. "It's sort of too good to pass up."

Manhattan BP Stringer Calls for Elimination of Member Items

Here is a first among any major elected official -- Manhattan BP Scott Stringer has called for the elimination of member items (worth nearly $50 million) in the City Council. While certainly the timing of his proposal is suspect given his intention of running for Mayor, it still makes him the first elected official to go on record in saying that slush funds should be eliminated. The race for 2013 is already getting interesting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

City Attempts to Investigate Illegal Apt. at Engel Building

Congressman Eliot Engel is answering questions about a building he owns in the Bronx that might contain an illegal apartment. The problem is that the City has been denied access to the building six times since 2009 to inspect the claims. Engel owns a portion of the building with a realty company in the Bronx.

NY Post Calls on City Council to Stop Slush Funds

A recent NY Post editorial calls on the City Council to eliminate member items or discretionary funding to individual members of the Council. The editorial discusses how these funds are used to ensure loyalty to the leadership, and it details some of the recent major abuses by members of the Council.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Diaz Sr. Calls Crowley a Hypocrite Over DC Residency

State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. is quoted in the NY Post saying that Congressman Joe Crowley of Queens is a hypocrite for moving his family to a suburb of DC. In addition to calling him a hypocrite, he also says "It's telling the people of the city . . . 'I'm leaving you.' "

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bronx BP Threatens Lawsuit Over Miltary Base

Dan Beekman at the Daily News reports that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is threatening to sue the Bloomberg administration over the fate of the Muller Army Reserve Center in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. The Bloomberg administration is proposing a homeless shelter for the site against strong community opposition. The Borough President is opposed to using the site for a homeless shelter and has proposed that the National Guard current located at the Kingsbridge Armory be moved to the site.

City Councilman Joel Rivera into Real Estate

Bronx News Network reports that current City Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera of the Bronx is exploring a new career outside of politics. Councilman Rivera will now be selling real estate in the Bronx for RE/MAX Results. It's probably a good idea to have another career to fall back on if the political stuff does not work out.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Criticism Continues Over Diaz Armory Report: UPDATE: Diaz Responds to Critics

Here is an article from Bob Kappstatter of the Daily News about the fallout from the much anticipated report on the Kingsbridge Armory released by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. last week. After blocking an earlier deal to develop the Armory, Diaz appointed a task force 15 months ago to explore alternative uses for the site. However, to many people, the 267 page report was short on substance and any ideas that have a real chance of happening given the massive public dollars that would be needed. Kappstatter references the Daily News editorial about the report that said, "No money. No business. No renovation. No employment. No prospects for anything,". The report calls for a number of possible uses, including a sports arena, film studio, an indoor bike track and a megachurch. Kappstatter also quotes a developer who said, "Even the best of these proposals would violate his own conditions,"..."None of these proposals have wall-to-wall living wage jobs, and the best proposal he's got is 420 jobs, of which 270 are living wage." In a tongue and cheek reference, Kappstatter joked that one way resolve the controversy and save a whole lotta money would be to remove the lighting rods from the roof of the structure and hope for a storm. UPDATE: Here is a letter by Ruben Diaz in today's Daily News responding to his critics on the Armory. In this article he likens the Armory to the High Line in the City -- you be the judge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Citizens Union Releases Report on Special Elections -- Urges Reforms

Citizens Union released a report today that shows that 1 in 4 legislators were first elected in a special election. That means that they managed to get into office outside of the normal democratic process. The report urges a number of reforms to ensure that whenever there is a vacancy there is a process where the voters get to decide who fills the seat.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Diaz Releases Ideas for Kingsbridge Armory

It's finally here -- Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. released his long awaited report on what should fill the vacant Kingsbridge Armory. As Bronx News Network reports this report really does not recommend a specific use. Instead it calls on the EDC to issue another Request for Proposal for the site. Is anyone else confused by this? I think Bronxities were led to believe by the Borough President a year ago that this task force would come up with a better idea for this unique site. Of course all is not lost. As reported in the NY Post, one idea put forth is to have an Atlanta based evangelist turn it into a mega-church and multi-purpose site (whatever that is). The minister, who drives a rolls and flies in a private jet, is appropriately named Creflo Dollar. This was definitely worth the wait! UPDATE: Here is an editoral from the NY Daily News on the report released by the BP entitled "Bronx Borough Pres. Ruben Diaz made a fool of himself claiming he'd find use for Kingsbridge Armory"

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Look at NY Reps. Debts and Riches

Here is a article from the NY Post about the financial disclosures of New York members of Congress. Nita Lowey is the wealthiest with assets ranging from $15 million to $67 million and no liabilities. On the other end of the spectrum is Eliot Engel of the Bronx who reports $50,000 in credit card debt.

Dinowitz in Push to Kill Electoral College

Here is an article from New York Magazine about a push by some NY State lawmakers, including Bronx Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, to kill the electoral college. For many people the Bush/Gore fiasco was their first realization of how under the current system more people can vote for one candidate but he or she can still lose because all of a state's electoral votes go to the candidate who wins that state. However under a new proposal, all of a state's electoral votes would go to a candidate who wins the popular vote -- thereby killing the electoral college without having to endure a Constitutional amendment. Thus far, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, have pledged their 77 electoral votes to this new arrangement. New York is now considering doing the same. It has already passed the State Senate and now under a bill sponsored by Bronx Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz it may well pass the Assembly. However it appears that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may not be too keen on it. The articles quotes Dinowitz as saying, "I really have trouble understanding why somebody would object to the first-place finisher actually winning an election," said Dinowitz, sounding sincerely bewildered."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Diaz Sr. -- Ok With Sexting But Not Gay Marriage?

With the debate in Albany in full bloom regarding gay marriage, here is a piece from Michael Daly at the Daily News where he contrasts the position of State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. on the Weiner texting scandal and the battle over gay marriage. Diaz has been the most vocal opponent of the gay marriage bill, but Daly points out that "At the same time, Diaz (D-Bronx) seems to think it's no big deal for a man who is married to a woman also to be a lying perv with any number of other women." As backup, he quotes Diaz as saying, "The Bible teaches us to take care of others and to help others when they are down. ... It is shameful to see how many of Congressman Weiner's supposed friends have abandoned him as the media makes a total mockery of him." Daly follows up with these words, "In Ruben's World, the Good Book commands the faithful to help and take care of a perv but shun gays who seek only to live in a relationship sanctioned by the law as well as by love."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dinowitz Wants State Park Smoking Ban

The New York Post reports that Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz wants to extend the City's park smoking ban to state parks such as Jones Beach and Roberto Clemente park. But he has yet to find a sponsor in the State Senate.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Diaz Sr. Hits Others Over Rent Regs

Here is a posting by Bronx News Network about State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. blasting Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Quinn over their support for gay marriage as opposed to spending more time supporting extending the rent regs. But, BNN points out that last year Diaz supported a rent freeze bill by former State Senator Espada that some say would have hurt tenants rights.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bronx BP Diaz Wants Yankee Parking Lot Made into Hotel

Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News writes today about the major financial difficulties at the Yankee Stadium parking lot. The $340 million parking system is in financial collapse, partly because customers are using only 31 percent of the 9000 parking spots. Gonzalez writes, "In a desperate effort to stave off default, the firm hiked its rates this season to $35 for self-parking and $48 for valet, from $23 and $36, respectively. The new prices have driven more fans away. Barely 100 patrons a game are forking out the $48 valet price, less than half what the company expected." Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has suggested that the garage be torn down and a new hotel or other project be built in its place. What do you think?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Diaz Protest Against Marriage Equality Angers Lesbian Granddaughter

In another chapter in the complex and almost bizzare public life of State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., has his lesbian granddaugther holding a counter-protest to his protest against marriage equality. Senator Diaz led a march down the Grand Concourse towards the Courthouse at 161st st. in oppostion to the movement to pass marriage equality in New York. Celeste Katz of the Daily News reports that "his granddaughter, Erica Diaz, a former Marine who said she was ousted under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, said her grandfather has met Torres, whom she hopes to one day marry. Despite their differences, she said she'd like her grandfather to attend the wedding."