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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?

71 comments:

  1. Mike Bloomberg is a 3-term Mayor of New York, has a Harvard MBA and is a business leader / entrepreneur / philanthropist who has amassed a personal fortune that has made him the 13th-richest person in the United States.

    Ruben Diaz, Jr. is a glorified ribbon-cutter with no executive experience. Beyond his current ceremonial post, his only background is as an assemblyman.

    I would trust Mr. Bloomberg's judgment on matters of business any day over that of Mr. Diaz.

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  2. K'bridge Armory + Ruben Diaz Jr. = FAILURE!

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  3. i'll be extremely surprised if Diaz ever gets past this armory fiasco

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  4. The plan for the Kingsbridge Armory mall represented growth and aspiration. Borough President Diaz's deplorable mishandling of this project is one of the lowpoints in modern Bronx history. His approach to economics reminds me of 19th century Luddite ignorance!

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  5. The plan for the Armory was a mall. That is neither growth nor aspirational. Kudos to Diaz for wanting something extra for the borough that will try to bring outside people into the Bronx.

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  6. So just think about who's advice any intelligent person would want on a commercial development project . . . . Michael R. Bloomberg or Rubén Díaz, Jr. ... Nuff said?

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  7. Here's a recent NY Post editorial about what a major screwup Bx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz is on the issue of the armory:


    New York Post, September 13, 2011

    RUBEN'S GOT HIS

    Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. declared two years ago that “no jobs” were preferable to just “any jobs” in his beleaguered borough.

    Well, that’s what he got: no jobs.

    As The Post reported Sunday, The Bronx has become the “borough of the jobless,” with 12.3 percent of its residents unemployed, easily the highest in the city.

    Diaz worked hard for this record.

    In 2009, he pretty much singlehandedly killed a Bloomberg administration-brokered deal to develop the long-dormant Kingsbridge Armory.

    The Related Cos. would have converted the armory into a state-of-the-art mall, a project that would’ve created 1,000 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent ones.

    Alas, such a deal didn’t work for organized labor -- a major supporter of Diaz and most city Democrats.

    After demanding that all workers be paid a 50 percent-above-market “living wage” -- a stipulation that would’ve sent Related’s costs soaring -- labor’s useful idiots on the City Council voted the deal down.

    In taking a victory lap for blowing things up, Diaz declared: “The notion that any job is better than no job no longer applies.”

    Diaz’s vow to find other productive uses for the armory has completely fallen flat. A year-long study produced only one “serious” potential inquiry: High-flying televangelist Creflo Dollar expressed interest in making the armory into a cathedral of sorts. But, as one observer noted: How many jobs would a church create?

    Oh, and it’s looking as if things could get even worse.

    With the US Postal Service thinking of closing some 3,600 branches nationwide, The Bronx will be especially hard hit: As many as 17 could be shuttered there -- putting hundreds out of work.

    But hey, Ruben Diaz will still have a job. And that’s what’s really important.

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/ruben_got_his_rLsWZ1pzkmhTxttqI33HTO#ixzz1ZHXCRLwp

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  8. What a shame. Years go by and we are STILL waiting on the Armory Mr. Diaz!

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  9. The mayor is 100% correct on this one.

    Because of Ruben Diaz and his city council friends, the Bronx will remain deprived of jobs.

    Diaz and his pals stupidly killed a $300 million shopping center that would have had a giant department store, up to 35 smaller shops, a variety of restaurants, a movie theater, and LOTS AND LOTS OF LOCAL JOBS!

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  10. the kingsbridge armory is a curse on diaz political career

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  11. Anon @ 10:03
    We ARE the only borough that can bring outside people (NYS) to shop in the Bronx (NYC). But when meter maid agents fund raise on customers and residents, when the DA protects his conviction rate and lets loose the thieves that will smash an expensive windshield to steal change in the ashtray, when Section 8 tenants are more desirable than working people, that is how Westchester dollars stay in Westchester. Only a Bronx Borough President has influence on these factors. Stop making excuses for him. If the perception (just Perception!)of the Bronx was prosperous then investors would have been fist fighting each other to develop the Armory. I think the Armory should be a huge cage fighting arena. Make it legal, make it in the Bronx. Like the good old Golden Glove days. The Bronx would make a fortune and that CBA should include real boxing clubs to keep kids active in a productive healthy way.

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  12. Yes Bloomberg is the 13th richest person, but how did he amass all that wealth. I will bet he used cut throat ideas, stepped over others, bullied his way to the top, and didn't want to listen to other ideas. Kind of the way Bloomberg is now.

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  13. Don't believe the hype!!

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  14. In Diaz' defense, he was never against the Related project, he just wanted something more for his constituents. In theory, the living wage concept is justified given the subsidies provided but its not a one size fits all model and can only be applied under the right circumstances, I just never saw how it applied to this development. How can you expect the landlord to subsidize or require his commercial tenants meet the living wage requirements? Well, you can't. It was easy for Related to call the bluff, they had all the cards and had little or nothing to lose. Broxnites on the other hand, and the city for that matter, remain stuck with the Armory, whose value decreases every year as it continues to deteriorate, increasing the cost of maintaining it.

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  15. So here's a Daily News editorial blasting Diaz for living in fantasyland and doing the people of the Bronx wrong on the Kingsbridge Armory. I this editorial summarizes Diaz's failure perfectly.


    N.Y. DAILY NEWS
    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Editorial
    BRONX BOROUGH PRES. RUBEN DIAZ MADE A FOOL OF HIMSELF CLAIMING HE'D FIND USE FOR KINGSBRIDGE ARMORY

    After he scuttled the plan to convert the hulk of the Kingsbridge Armory into a retail mall with 1,000 construction jobs and 1,200 permanent jobs, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. declared that he could do a lot better for the Bronx.
    Said Diaz boldly: "My critics have challenged me to come up with something better for the Kingsbridge Armory and I am prepared to answer that call."
    But now, after 15 months of consultation and cogitation, Diaz has released a 267-page report that amounts to a humiliating, disastrous zilch.
    No money. No business. No renovation. No employment. No prospects for anything - except hilarious laughter at the half-baked proposals he drummed up from would-be occupants.
    Like turning the place into a track for six-day bicycle races.
    Or the largest chess center in the universe.
    Or something that sounds like a semipermanent episode of "Antiques Roadshow" for architectural ornaments salvaged from old buildings.
    None of these brainstorms got Diaz's backing, perhaps because he's belatedly confronting the difficulty of interesting developers in investing at least $200 million to refurbish the block-square white elephant. Live and learn.
    Separately, Diaz dispatched a volunteer team of New York University graduate students to think big about the armory. They ruminated that - in concept, if someone wanted to move in - the place might be suitable for a sports and entertainment complex, a film studio or a food center.
    Each daydream would need city financing, with renovations estimated to cost conservatively up to $171 million. As for jobs, the maximum number was a measly 420, with more than half of them part-time.
    Having proven that he knows how to obstruct but not to build, Diaz is asking Mayor Bloomberg to do again what City Hall did in 2006, only to be blocked by Diaz. He wants Bloomberg to invite businesses from far and wide to present ideas for putting the armory to productive use.
    The last time around, the city got three serious, self-financing plans and selected the Related Cos. to install a shopping center after the firm committed to invest $300 million in the project.
    Related agreed to pay its own employees at the mall a so-called living wage - a couple of bucks above the minimum wage - but Diaz wanted more. He demanded the same of every retailer who signed a lease to open up shop in the mall.
    Noting that big chains have nationwide pay scales, Related said that Diaz's fiat was unworkable. The borough president then pronounced that he would rather have no jobs than jobs that paid the standard retail wage. And that's exactly what he delivered for residents of the borough with the highest unemployment, now at 11.7%: No jobs.
    Living in the fantasyland where too many New York elected officials believe they can rewrite the laws of economics, Diaz did the Bronx wrong.

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  16. Well that's what you suckers in the Bronx get for electing that type of borough president. Ruben Diaz Jr made a HUGE mistake on the Kingsbridge Armory and now the Bronx must live with the consequences.

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  17. I guess we should be thrilled by this *extremely* rare foray into outer borough politics by the Mayor, even if it was a thinly veiled attack on one of Chris Quinn's possible opponents in 2013!

    Maybe the mayor should worry less about what didn't happen at the Armory and more about the $300 million (and counting) Yankee Stadium parking garage scandal. Or City Time. Or all the waste, fraud, corruption, and utter lack of success at the DOE. Or the disastrous pension bargains he's struck with the unions. etc.

    The Armory wouldn't have made a dent in the Bronx's unemployment situation. It wouldn't have created a single long-term job that provided health insurance and good benefits. It would have put the taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars, with zero upside. There is no pressing need to do anything with the building--it costs a million dollars a year to maintain, a pittance in Bloomberg's free-wheeling and bloated budgets.

    Give it a rest and do something useful for the next two years, Mike.

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  18. I am a Diaz fan but anyone who thinks he's a credible candidate for mayor is crazy.

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  19. Baby Diaz is anti-business and anti-jobs, as usual

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  20. J.R.Dobbs is BishopOctober 1, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Anonymous September 30th @6:35,
    Christine Quinn voted to extend her term limit, which is a far worse strike against her than no Armory. If Diaz is contemplating the run, the Armory as a mall would have given thousands of entry level positions to Bronx teens. An important fist step to ending poverty. He sabotaged his own candidacy. The choice seems to be between two Democrats that don't get it!

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  21. Oh, what a lost opportunity that was to bring real jobs, businesses and revitalization to The Bronx. We should be welcoming private investment, not rejecting it.

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  22. The Related Companies is a major developer. Its plan would have transformed an unused armory in the Bronx into a vibrant shopping mall.

    The "community benefits agreement" sought by Diaz Junior was unnecessary because local community groups had already been given more than enough opportunity to shape the request for redevelopment proposals.

    So it's because of Diaz Junior's intransigence that the city's poorest borough has lost the prospect of hundreds of jobs.

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  23. The way the Kingsbridge Armory project collapsed is proof that New York City has lost the ability to carry out sensible and ambitious redevelopment projects. Politicians like Mr. Ruben Diaz, Jr. are part of the problem, not the solution.

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  24. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz's outsized influence in killing the Kingsbridge Armory project was a freak occurrence due to the vacuum created when the local councilwoman for the 14th District, Maria Baez, lost her reelection bid. Diaz is a dime-a-dozen politico, a marginal figure, and he is highly unlikely to have that kind of influence in the future.

    In addition, his prospects are pretty dim as a potential candidate for any higher office. A political lightweight with no citywide appeal or reach, Diaz has the failure of the Kingsbridge Armory as a constant monkey on his back.

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  25. There is broad agreement in the business community that living-wage requirements DO NOT have the desired effect. They simply result in FAR FEWER JOBS.

    For the Kingsbridge Armory, which still sits vacant, the living-wage requirement has resulted in NO JOBS AT ALL (instead of the 1,000 construction jobs and the 1,200 permanent jobs that would have been created under Related's development plan).

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  26. Note to NYC's 5 BPs: Economically screwing the residents of your own borough by torpedoing job-producing redevelopment projects is a political no-no.

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  27. I agree with the mayor and the editorials . . . . . It sounds like Bronx boro prez needs to be reminded that private sector job growth is the most important issue facing Bronxites today

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  28. There's an interesting article related to this by Kate Taylor on page A17 of today's New York Times. ("Bill Requiring Higher Wages Puts Council Leader On the Spot," http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/03/nyregion/living-wage-bill-may-put-christine-quinn-on-the-spot.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion ).

    The article reports on G. Oliver Koppell's faltering bill in the City Council that would require companies in city-subsidized projects to pay higher wages.

    Here's part of what the article says:



    The city’s Economic Development Corporation has opposed the proposal, citing a $1 million study it commissioned, which found that a wage requirement would hurt employment in the city. Advocates criticized the study as biased, and a discussion of it during a Council hearing in May became heated.

    But the sponsors of the measure say that in response to the critique, they will introduce an amended version that would exclude manufacturing businesses, and companies with less than $5 million in annual revenue or under $1 million in city subsidies. The amended measure would also require companies to pay the “living wage” for only 10 years — down from 30 in the original proposal — or for as long as the building in which the company was located received a city subsidy.

    A mayoral spokeswoman, Julie Wood, said, “We haven’t seen the bill, but our administration is working to create jobs, not eliminate them by imposing new costs on employers and creating challenges to private investment.”

    Mr. Bloomberg is still frustrated by the demise, in 2009, of a plan to develop the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a shopping mall, after a contentious debate over whether to require that tenants of the development pay at least $10 per hour to employees in exchange for the developer’s receiving millions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives.

    Ms. Quinn, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, can kill a bill by not bringing it to a vote. Last year, she shelved a bill that would have required employers to provide paid sick days to their workers; it had the support of a veto-proof majority in the Council but was opposed by business interests.

    On Friday, Ms. Quinn’s spokesman, Jamie McShane, said the speaker’s office had not yet received a bill with the proposed amendments and would review it when it did.

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  29. I do not see how someone like Ruben Diaz hopes to get ordinary people to vote for him when his policies go against creating new employment opportunities in working class neighborhoods like the one the armory is located in.

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  30. That's some pitiful legacy that Diaz is working on.

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  31. still empty after all these years

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  32. slick phony pol as BBP

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  33. I live in the surrounding neighborhood and can tell you first hand that we have more than enough shopping stores, supermarkets, and business that deliver far fewer jobs than promised. While they collect huge tax credits and do absolutely nothing to benefit the community. Look at the failed Atlantic Development project that built the huge failure of a mall near Yankee Stadium. As a Bronx tax payer, and resident, I fully support the borough president and think he is doing a fine job.

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  34. So all of you Related Company employees, and Bloomber supporters who are clearly posting many comments shout this should get a clue. We have enough shopping centers in the area. The Target mall on 231st street houses Marshall, Target, Pathmark, and there are already many other stores located on Fordham Road, which is a major shopping area for those who live in this area.

    Also, very close by we have BJ's, & Target, Marshalls, and many other. Not to mention the many many smaller supermarkets that have been in the area for years. Many years before these big box stores decided that my neighbors and I spend more of our disposable income locally. We don't want Walmart so go away!!!!

    These poor paying part time jobs do nothing but keep the poor a permanent underclass. They don't pay a living wage and therefore the workers are still eligible for government benefits such as Food Stamps & Medicaid, hence continuing to cost the taxpayers. While the greedy landlords and developers get rich and collects Corporate Welfare. Fight on Rubin Diza Jr. we support you in the fight for equal pay and a decent living wage for all.

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  35. Bloomberg giving the city away to his developer friends .................. at the expense of the middle class in this city.

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  36. a better way to develop the armory"???

    Diaz is not developing anything there and it has been a long time ... too long!

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  37. What this whole thing boils down to is the fact the Bx Boro President basically said no to hundreds of new jobs for his constituents.

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  38. I totally blame Borough President Diaz for the collapse of the armory project. He was trying to force private businesses to pay their employees at least $3 or $4 more than the legal minimum wage. That just doesn't make any sense from a business standpoint. So what do we have at the armory today? Nothing! No businesses and no jobs!

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  39. Obviously Ruben Diaz Jr has no idea how things work in the business world.

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  40. Diaz said he has no regrets about what happened. Is he joking?

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  41. If Rubén Díaz, Jr. is such a font of economic wisdom, perhaps he'd like to comment of the challenges facing the world economy with respect to monetary policy and the debt crisis. I'm sure we'd all benefit from his insightful observations.

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  42. Ya know, it feels like the bronx borough president has declared war on his own borough.

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  43. It sounds like it's amateur time at 851 Grand Concourse. Think about it folks. Can't we do better in the people that we elect for the borough presidency?

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  44. Rubencito Diaz is a slow motion disaster

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  45. City Time ($740 million), NYCaps ($300 million), the catastrophic cost overruns at the Croton Filtration plant ($2 billion and counting), the Carrion-spurred Yankees parking garage fiasco ($300 million), rampant corruption at the affordable housing program ($22 million for now, with lots more to come), absurd cost overruns and shoddy quality of public construction (any newly built DOE facility, Bronx Hall of Justice, etc.) (let's round it off at a nice cool billion). . .

    I'm sure Diaz doesn't have regrets. He did the right thing. Hundreds of millions of dollars to create $7.25/hr jobs that wouldn't put a single person over the poverty line?

    I think all of the complainers here missed their chance with one of these aforementioned pork-filled gravy trains and were counting on the Armory project to line their pockets. Better luck next time.

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  46. "The past is the future, the future is the past, it all gives me a headache."

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  47. Not everyone who would have worked at the facility would have been a minimum wage employee. Many, yes but there would have been managerial positions, security work, maintenance personnel and of course all the union jobs needed to construct the facility. Instead it remains a black hole.

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  48. so far diaz has had a calamitous tenure as borough president

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  49. The sad part is..that for all the consensus that this was a horrible decision and Diaz is a lightweight politician....he will get re-elected in 2013 because no one votes in the Bronx (5% voter turnout) and, because of that, no credible candidate is willing to put his/her name up to challenge him.

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  50. Let me quote an excellent comment about Ruben Diaz, Jr. posted by one of your readers back on June 23rd, 2011:

    BRONXITES, YOU DESERVE RUBEN DIAZ JR. BECAUSE YOU DON’T VOTE, AND THEREFORE YOU SHOULD NOT COMPLAIN WHEN HE DOES THINGS YOU DON’T LIKE!

    When you think about it, the people of the Bronx are to blame for the fact that an ignoramus like Ruben Diaz Jr. is Borough President. That man was chosen by only a minuscule percentage of the people, and rest didn't even bother to vote -- so shame on them.

    Diaz was first elected Borough President in a special election in 2009 where he received just 28,301 votes! That’s LESS THAN FIVE PERCENT (or 4.29 percent to be more precise) of the approximately 660,000 registered voters in the Bronx, and just TWO PERCENT of the nearly 1.4 million people who live in the Bronx.

    If you want to be truly represented, and if you want quality elections, then it’s up to each and every one of you who are qualified to vote to actually do it. So please Register to Vote and then Cast Your Vote in each and every election.

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  51. diaz jr needs to be primaried

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  52. If you find a candidate...would love to meet him..

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  53. Bronx Borough President Diaz is doing a fine job. Than you for fighting for a living wadge for Bronxites and other NYC residents who work hard are struggling to make ends meet. We would rather see the building empty until the right project is developed and that is not another shopping mall, or another failure of a mall from The Related Company.

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  54. Maybe Adolfo Carrión, Jr. would like to come back as Bronx BP?

    As BPs go, Carrión is much better than Rubén Díaz, Jr.

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  55. J.R.Dobbs is BishopOctober 15, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    Shame on you Anonymous Oct 14th @11:11

    Ken Padilla, respectfully, deserved the last word.

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  56. What "living wage" is Anonymous Oct 14 11:11 AM talking about? That Armory is EMPTY and that means NO BUSINESS, NO JOBS and NO WAGES.

    We could have had 1000 construction jobs and 1200 permanent jobs there, but Mr. Diaz and his pals killed that golden goose of Bronx development and commerce.

    So thanks for NOTHING Mr. Diaz!

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  57. Teenagers and young adults still living at home would have appreciated those jobs. This would have been a means to assist impoverished youth develop skills and reinforce working class values. Sure, adults need jobs as well. If the jobs werent good enough for adults, they certainly would have been an excellent opportunity for Bronx youth and local high school and college students.

    Think about where we are moving as a society when NO JOB is better than a MINIMUM WAGE job.
    You have to WORK to build wealth. Even the most menial of tasks can lead to better opportunities if you stay focused and work. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone would jump on a bandwagon that benefits NONE. That armory project was desperately needed.

    Yes, the "Living Wage" idea was quite admirable. But the fact of the matter is, over 1,000 jobs were lost. Crime is ESCALATING. What do you think desperate people will do when they are hungry or cannot afford to put shoes on their feet or a coat on their backs? And when those same desperate people realize it makes no sense to rob their own, where do you think they will head? There were a string of robberies and purse snatchings near the Skyview buildings earlier this year. Its not going to get any better, its going to get worse.

    In the Bronx the six figure earners are far outnumbered by people who can barely afford to pay their rent AND put food on the table. The creation of jobs could have eased the suffering of the working poor if their sons and daughters were able to secure entry level employment opportunities that would allow them to contribute to the household. Every little bit helps. A part time job @ 20 hours per week paying the minimum wage could have added $600 to the monthly FAMILY budget. That wasnt good enough I suppose? Its better to have empty pockets? What a sad state of affairs.

    Putting the cart before the horse will get us nowhere.

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  58. Colleen, these "every little bit helps" jobs that wouldn't have given a single soul private health insurance or moved them off public assistance would have cost the taxpayer something like $40,000 to $60,000 per position created.

    And that's in a best-case scenario, before you factor in the risk of it being a bad business decision that requires public bailout, like the Yankees parking garage fiasco (how much upside does a mall located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country have, esp with so much other retail nearby?). Or the risk for waste and fraud, like at the water filtration plant.

    I don't want to live in a society where no job is better than some job, but I sure as hell don't want to live in a society where we have to pay a healthy five-figure sum to create one job that's fundamentally the same as no job.

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  59. Get your head in the right place Hanley.

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  60. @Anonymous 10/17 @5:49 PM: One job thats fundamentally the same as no job to who? You? Have you spoken to any of the teenagers and young adults in our communities who would like to help their families but cannot find a job?
    Do you have ANY idea how helpless some of our young men and women feel when their parents can barely pay the rent? Place food on the table? Or are Public Assistance recipients the only variables in your equation? Consider ALL of the variables please. And when you do, you should also keep in mind that many of the working poor in our area actually have employer-provided insurance. Unfortunately, high rents, con ed, metro cards, groceries, and quadrupled co-pays and deductibles on Doctor visits are making it very difficult for a lot of families to make ends meet. Believe it or not, there ARE people out there who would rather work a low paying job than rely on Public Assistance.

    @Anonymous 10/18 @ 4:17am: My head is in the right place, thanks. My heart goes out to the young men and women in our neighborhoods who need jobs. If you've never met a teenage hustler who sells drugs because he couldnt find a job you definitely wouldnt know where my head is. If you've never had a conversation with a kid who wants to work but cannot find a job you wouldn't know what my heart is about either.

    Keep passing the open windows.

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  61. I think that Ruben Diaz Jr. is in denial about the Kingsbridge Armory problem and this "living wage" nonsense.

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  62. He's stuck in a deadend known as the Armory!

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  63. Mr. Diaz's plans for the armory are obviously going nowhere (just like is chances of getting elected to any higher office).

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  64. The bottom line is that Bronxites along with other city residents demand that tax dollars be spent in a way that creates real jobs.

    thank you Bronx Borough President Diaz for your resolve on this issue.

    Bronxites support you and stand with you on this issue!!

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  65. Soon we will be calling him Mayor Diaz. Sorry Christine Quinn, non of us have ever seen you in the Bronx!!!

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  66. Most Bronxites do not support Diaz. In fact, most Bronxites have no idea who he even is!

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  67. I agree that most Bronx residents have no idea who Ruben Diaz Jr is. Although the latest polling shows that Adolfo Carrion now has very low name recognition in the Bronx, Diaz's numbers are even lower than Carrion's.

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  68. What is this pretense by Rubencito that everything is going well with the way he's been handling the Kingsbridge Armory? Does the borough president have any idea what a phony he now looks?

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  69. This Diaz guy is awesome, such ownage on the armory there. He'll do what he thinks of right even if that place stays empty forever. And all of you who are blindly eating up all the Bloomberg media bulshit need to realize that these are the same lying cockroaches that told us Mike is always right. All of it, BASED ON LIES, SO WAKE UP PEOPLE WE ARENT LIVING IN CAVES ANYMORE. LEARN

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  70. Dear Oct 23 5:12 Nut,

    That armory is like a graveyard (and that's where Diaz Jr's political future is headed too).

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