It has been around forever

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is Diaz Ready for Primetime?

Here is an article by Chris Bragg over at City Hall News that looks at the 2013 citywide prospects for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. It touches on his political skills (he has been in office since he was 22) and his ability to work with the borough's politicians. Interestingly, Diaz takes a moment to take a shot at former BP Ferrer when he says, "Think about former borough presidents,.. Did they ever get the support of the leadership in Riverdale, when they wanted to run for higher office? Did Freddy [Ferrer]? No. Think about how we've been able to bring in the folks in Riverdale, the Jewish community, the Italians. Leadership and bringing people together has to be a quality that people are looking for in a mayor." The article then goes on to detail his two major albatrosses -- his father and the Kingsbridge Armory. After killing the $350 million investment and 2200 jobs at the Armory, Diaz appointed a task force to look at another development idea. However, Jack Kittle, a labor leader who served on the task force said "We think he's crippled any development there for generations, ... There's a reluctance to invest anywhere in the Bronx, if not the whole city." About 2013, Diaz is quoted as saying "Look man, whoever runs for mayor is going to have a story to tell, ... I'm working on my narrative." What do Bronxites think about his narrative?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Borough Presidents Split on Whether to Return Tainted Money

This article in The Brooklyn Paper explores what some of the Borough President's are doing with donations they received from a developer Aaron Malinsky, who was indicted for bribing State Senator Carl Kruger. Brooklyn BP Markowitz is unsure whether he will return the $20,000 he has received, but Manhattan BP Scott Stringer is donating the $31,000 he has received to charity. Bronx BP Diaz has received $21,000 but he has not said whether he will return it.

New Signs for the Bronx?

Bronx State Committeeman Ronald Savage has an idea to try to spice up the signs that welcome people to the Bronx by referring to it as the birthplace of rap. I am more fascinated that Mr. Savage refers to himself as the "first Hip Hopper elected to office". Not even sure what that means?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Daily News Uncovers Many Skeletons in Council's Closets

Following an exhaustive three-month investigation into the City Council, the Daily News began publishing its findings this week and the results are nothing short of shocking. Public perception of our elected officials is at an all-time low, and these findings only confirm our suspicions. In one instance, a Queens Councilman (Ruben Willis) was found to have outstanding warrants for petty larceny and nonpayment of child support. He turned himself after the story appeared. In another case, they found that Manhattan Councilwoman Inez Dickens owes the City a $100,000 in taxes for a couple of buildings she co-owns. Another story uncovered the fact that a number of Council members are living in affordable housing while at least four other Council members claimed places outside of their districts as their primary residence and claimed a a tax break for it. Finally, in a story released today, it was revealed that the homes of two Council members are in foreclosure (Dan Halloran and James Sanders both of Queens). In addition, they report that Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell had as much as $270,000 in credit card debt in 2009.

What does this all mean? First, the Daily News should be commended for digging deeper. What is really ironic is that much of this was hiding in plain sight -- it's pretty difficult to hide an arrest warrant. Second, while elected officials are human and will sometimes make mistakes, there seems to be an inordinate number of Council members (remember there are only 51 in total) who are either not abiding by the law or who have shown very poor judgment. Hopefully, investigations like these will help to root that out so that voters are more aware of these issues before they go to the polls. Can you imagine what a major news organization would find with the same scrutiny of our state elected officials?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Senator Diaz Disclosure Bill Rejected

A bill pushed by State Senator Ruben Diaz to require all state elected officials to post their campaign donations on their websites was defeated in the State Senate. Diaz rightly said “Everybody is asking for transparency, but nobody wants transparency.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

BPs Discuss Budget Cuts Over Steak

Here is a piece by Dan Beekman at the Daily News about the 5 Borough Presidents getting together to chew the fat over steak and their anger over the proposed cuts to their budgets by Mayor Bloomberg. Bronx BP Ruben Diaz is quoted saying that the cuts "would force him to lay off up to a dozen staffers who work on issues such as housing, land use and education."

Councilman Cabrera's Residency Questioned: UPDATE

Bronx News Network picks up on a story first reported in the Daily News that questions the residency of a number of Councilmembers, including newbie Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera. It seems the Councilman claims a home he owns in Westchester as his primary residence and this got him a $1500 tax break. The article also mentions that Cabrera's residency was an issue in his 2009 campaign. When reached, Cabrera's office said it was an oversight and he would pay back the money immediately. UPDATE: Here is a Daily News article calling for investigations into some of the allegations of misdeeds by some Councilmembers that was highlighted in a series of articles in the News.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Poll Shows New Yorkers Want Wal-Mart but Not Bike Lanes: UPDATE

Here is a link to the Politicker NY highlighting a poll by Quinnipiac that looked at how New Yorkers feel about Wal-Mart, bike lanes, Last in, first out, and renaming a bridge for Ed Koch. Support for Wal-Mart is strong but Koch does not get much love. UPDATE: An eagle-eyed reader picked up these mistakes in the Observer numbers below:"The Observer screwed up their summary of the results: 59-35 of Dems say bike lanes are GOOD, and 78-16 (63-32 union) say teacher layoffs should NOT be based on seniority."


57-36 percent say electeds should allow a Wal-Mart to open here.

68-29 percent say they'd shop there once open.

Last In, First Out

78-16 percent say teacher layoffs should be done based on seniority.

63-32 percent of union households agree.

Bike Lanes

59-35 percent of GOP say bike lanes are bad.

59-35 percent of Dems say bike lanes are bad [number corrected].

56-39 percent of Indys say bike lanes are good.

Koch Bridge

64-24 percent oppose renaming Queensboro bridge after Ed Koch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Last Bandito Standing

Here is a link to Bob Kappstatter's weekly column in the Daily News where he refers to State Senator Ruben Diaz, Jr. as the last Bandito standing after his 3 buddies (Espada, Monserrate and Kruger) have all faced serious legal troubles. Diaz is loyal to a fault and has stuck by his fellow Banditos no matter what the charge.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dodge City in the State Legislature

Here is a great in-depth piece by Tom Robbins in the New York Post about how our State Legislature continues to be a hotbed for corruption. He takes a close look at the history of Pedro Espada to show how the culture in Albany and focus on power causes everyone to overlook even the worst ethics violations. One report found that 14 state legislators have been indicted or convicted in the past ten years, but that was prior to last week's addition of two more -- Kruger (pictured far left) and Boyland. Here is a revealing quote from the article by former Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, who pled guilty to bribery and died in prison, “What the f - - - does it mean that we’re elected officials?” he said. “It doesn’t mean s - - -.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Diaz Strikes Again -- Says He Will Accept Kruger Bucks

State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. remains the best gift to political writers since Pedro Espada. After his sole remaining Amigo, Carl Kruger, was indicted on Friday, Diaz came out with a bizarre statement saying that if any of his colleagues were unsure what to do with money donated to them by Kruger they should just donate it his campaign. Jimmy Veilkind at Captiol Confidential has posted relevant portions of the press release. Some of his colleagues have offered to give the money to charity, but I guess Diaz thinks this is a more worthy cause.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Lone Amigo in the Senate

And now there is one -- one Amigo. As is reported in the New York Post, State Senator Carl Kruger has turned himself in today to face federal corruption charges. As you may recall, Kruger was one of the 4 Amigos in the State Senate that included Pedro Espada, Hiriam Monserrate, and Ruben Diaz, Sr. With both Espada and Monserrate having been indicted for various good deeds, that leaves only Diaz as the lone Amigo in the Senate. What an illustrious club.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dueling Letters on Cuomo's Budget: UPDATE

There is a contentious "battle of letters" brewing in Albany surrounding Governor Cuomo's budget proposals, and Bronx politicos are deeply involved on all sides. About a week ago, twenty Senate Democrats signed a letter supporting keeping in place the "millionaires tax" -- which applies to people making over $200,000. This letter apparently was spearheaded by Bronx Senator Gustavo Rivera, and it was also signed by Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Adriano Espaillat. Earlier, sixty eight members of the Assembly signed a similiar letter, including Bronx Boss Carl Heastie. Finally, there was another letter put out by another group of Democrats, including some members of the NYC Council and a number of Democratic State Committee members, applauding Cuomo for strong leadership on the budget and supporting the need to make tough choices. The Bronx is barely represented on this letter, but it does include Pat Williams (Bronx Democratic Activist), Aisha Ahmed (President – Liberty Democratic Club) and Joseph McManus (Bronx State Committeeperson). Believe it or not, there are actually a few other letters but I think you get the point. UPDATE: Here is Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. again hitting the Gov. on the "millionaires tax", and of course on the issue of same sex marriage. This issue continues to rankle Albany. The Daily News has an editorial on it and Sheldon Silver is quoted in the NY Post saying they may have to compromise and "may adjust that to conform to the sound bite, all the way to a million."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Councilwoman Arroyo in Housing Flap

Crain's New York is reporting that Councilwoman Carmen Arroyo might be in a bit of hot water over trying to steer the award of a building with a HUD mortgage to an organization in the Bronx with close ties to her. The article reports that "Ms. Arroyo apparently reached out numerous times to City Hall, Bronx Borough Hall and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's regional office in New York—run by former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr.—to make her own case. She pressured officials to instead hand over the building to a Bronx-based team made up of real estate services firm Foxy Management Ltd. and the Neighborhood Association for Inter-Cultural Affairs, according to a dozen sources familiar with the situation. Executives and family members from Foxy donated at least $10,875 to Ms. Arroyo's two City Council campaigns, according to filings with the Campaign Finance Board. The councilwoman had previously pressed for the installation of South Bronx Community Corp., a nonprofit organization run by her nephew, as managing agent, according to Bronx political insiders. But that effort died last year when he pleaded guilty to stealing $115,000 from the group and was sentenced to a year in jail."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Riverdale Review Reporter Threatens Retaliation

The guy in this photo is Brendan McHugh, a reporter for the Riverdale Review in the Bronx, who apparently can dish it out but can't take it. After being told that his photo will be posted on this blog along with an accounting of his brand of yellow journalism, Brendan called me a "cyber bully" and threatened that he would hold me "personally liable" -- whatever that means. My guess is that I can expect more false reporting, but that is nothing new for this guy or his publication. Brendan is a star pupil in his editor Andy Wolf's school of dirty journalism and character assassination. Brendan is the same guy who interviewed a group of 8 and 9 year old students without their parents permission for a hit piece on their school principal. Ironically, his boss, Andy Wolf, has been crying about the boycott of his newspaper. He says he has a right to print anything and claims that the boycott is a violation of the First Amendment. Yet Brendan wants to stop anyone else from exercising their free speech, and he is willing to use threats to make his point. No Brendan, you can not write lies and attack the character of school and community leaders on behalf of your boss and not expect to be criticized. And, if you lack basic journalistic ethics or standards, you can not expect that readers or potential employers will not find out about it. After all, Brendan, aren't you proud of your scriblings in the Review?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Klein Criticized Over Part-time Staffer Getting Benefits

This Daily News article criticizes State Senator Jeff Klein for providing a part-time staffer, who happens to also be his law partner, with health benefits. The article reports that Dominic Calderoni worked the minumum hours needed (910 a year) to receive the benefits. Mr. Calderoni stepped down from his position last week. While this arrangement raised eyebrows it did not violate any laws -- it also seems it is a common practice in Albany.

Senate Republicans Ignore Fiscal Crisis and Boost Staffing

NYS Senate Republicans are not letting a little financial crisis get in the way of good patronage appointments. Glenn Blain at the Daily News is reporting that they have added $1.3 million in payroll since they took over in January of this year. This includes the hiring of 27 new staffers and raises for others. Of course, they are just trying to keep up with the Democrats, who when they held power gorged themselves on staffing as well. Good to see that both parties have provided strong leadership during this finanical crisis.