It has been around forever

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dinowitz Attempts to Handpick Next Councilman

As the Riverdale Press reports, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is intent on installing his former staffer Andy Cohen as Councilman Oliver Koppel's replacement. Despite his thin resume and lack of public recognition, Cohen has already lined up an array of elected officials at the behest of Dinowitz. Dinowitz has begun the Cohen push in earnest, parading him out before a press conference last week attacking Con Edison (see photo with Cohen at Dinowitz's hip).  Expect to see a lot more of that.  The only other announced candidate at this time is community advocate Cliff Stanton. 

Jeff Klein Holds the Cards in State Senate

Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein has found his way back to the top of the State Senate by brokering a deal with the Republicans to share power.  Klein, who founded the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference last year with three other Senators, is has the votes to decide which party is in power.  As Adam Wisnieski at the Riverdale Press reports, Klein's move angered some fellow dems but Klein is describing it as governing by coalition. Hard to say it can be worse than we have seen in the last decade. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Carrion Bucks Party For Mayoral Run

As any politicial junkie has heard already, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion has quit the Democratic Party in order to mount a race for Mayor and try to capture the Republican nomination.  The NY Times reported that Carrion was meeting with Republican leaders to try to lock up their nomination. Let's hear what you have to say about this development.

Friday, November 2, 2012

BP Diaz Fundraising During Disaster?

After a couple of days of no power and cabin fever, I contacted some friends who where similarly situated and went over to the Bronx Ale House for a change of scenery and a good burger. We had a hard time getting a table because there was an event going on. I was shocked to see that it was a political event for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz. In the middle of a disaster where so many Bronxites and New Yorkers are without power, gas for their cars and heat, it was surreal to walk into the middle of a bunch of fat cats in suits attending a political event. As I sat with friends who had not been able to work or take a shower all week, I thought how out of touch and selfish some politicians really are.   

Friday, September 28, 2012

MTA Chairman Calls Bx. Board Member "A Liar"

Charles Moerdler

Joseph Lhota
 In a very unusual moment during the normally staid MTA Board meeting, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota blasted Bronx board member Charles Moerdler calling him a liar -- and that was just the beginning. As the NY Times reports, after Moerdler disagreed with the chairman about a proposal to reduce MTA board meetings, Lhota called his thinking "flawed", "erroneous" and "actually scurrilous.” He went on to say "To make statements in public like this, similar to the statement that you made when you only parked in that parking spot for a few minutes when it was documented by camera that it was over four hours — enough of lying to this board.”  Lhota is referring to an incident reported by the Daily News in which Moerdler is accused of parking his car illegally and using MTA placard.  To which Moerdler replied,  “Mr. Chairman, character assassination does not do you credit.” He further added, that he “will not challenge” Mr. Lhota, to which the chairman responded, “I wish you would” and he should “Be a man.” Mr. Moerdler, who has been a member of Bronx Community Board No. 8 for over 30 years, has been described in a prior article in the New York Daily News as talking "with an amazing and bizarre Victorian-era accent. When he opens his mouth, you half-expect him to call for the butler and ask for tea and crumpets."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Espada -- Can't Keep a Good Crook Down

As this article from the NY Times details, former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada (now a convicted felon awaiting sentencing), is still ripping off the health center he was convicted of cleaning out. Seems that his family sold the assets for about $600,000 and divided the proceeds among the brood. So he raises the form of doubling dipping to a new level. The Feds now want to get his bail revoked because he was told by the judge not to have any dealings with the health care center. In the meantime, the center owes millions to creditors and the IRS. You get the feeling he is going to continue to get paid by this organization while he is sitting in the can for the next decade. 

Scandal Tainted Rivera Goes Down at Ballot Box

BP Diaz Endorsing Rivera
It's rare that even a scandal can bring down an incumbent -- especially in the State Legislature -- but last week two went down at the ballot box including our very own Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera. As the NY Times reports, Rivera was weighed down by allegations that she hired current and former boyfriends who were not qualified.  The story reports that "Ms. Rivera was defeated in the primary, 52 percent to 41 percent, by Mark Gjonaj, a real estate agent and community activist who was a first-time political candidate. She has served in the Assembly since 2005 and comes from a powerful Bronx political family: she is a daughter of Jose Rivera, an assemblyman and Bronx political leader, and a sister of City Councilman Joel Rivera." This is a rare event, and proof of that can be found in the handful of other state elected officials who have even been indicted and still held onto their seats last week.  Of course, despite the serious allegations and a lackluster record, virtually the entire Bronx political establishment endorsed Rivera including BP Diaz, Carl Heastie (the Bronx Boss), and Jeff Dinowitz (the Heffie of Bronx Democratic County Organization)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bronx Politicians Make Not-for-Profits Their Piggybanks

Bronx BP Diaz Endorsing Assemblywoman Rivera
 Here is an article from the Daily News outlining the continuing problem of Bronx politicians using not-for-profit organizations they control as their piggybanks.  The latest one to get ensnared is Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Seabrook is Finally Convicted

The Bronx continues to be the most prolific borough when it comes to corruption. Former City Councilman Larry Seabrook (aka "Cash and Carry Larry") has finally been convicted of stealing from taxpayers.  Seabrook has been known to be on the take for decades and managed to get a hung jury in his last trial, but justice finally caught up to him. Seabrook is the second councilman in three years to be convited on corruption charges arising from the misuse of discretionary member-item funds. Back in 2009, former Councilman Miguel Martinez was sentenced to five years in prison for siphoning more than $100,000.  Here is an editorial from the Daily News once again calling for the elimination of member-items. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bronx Pols Report Fundraising

Jimmy Vacca
Dan Beekman at the Daily News reports that Bx. BP Ruben Diaz and James Vacca brought a good stash of cash.  Councilman Vacca brought in 115k in the last six months while the Diaz hauled in 285k.  Two new City Council candidates also reported their first fundraising totals. Cliff Stanton, who is running for Ollie Koppell's seat hit the 32k mark while Andy King, who is running to replace the ethically challenged Larry Seabrook pulled down 18k. 

Naomi Rivera Gets Another Challenger

Azi Paybarah over at The Capital blog reports that Bronx Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera has just picked up another challenger. Azi reports that "Adam Bermudez registered his campaign committee today with the state Board of Elections. He was a field organizer for Thompson's mayoral campaign and worked for former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin. Bermudez also worked for six months at the Bronx Times back in 2008. Rivera, the daughter of the former Bronx Democratic leader, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, is already facing one strong challenger: Mark Gjonaj, who owns a real estate company and is the Bronx commissioner on the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Gjonaj also has the support of Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who was angered when Rivera endorsed the congresswoman's primary opponent, Erik Dilan."  It's going to be a busy summer for the Riveras! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Engel in Hot Water on Personal Loan

The Daily News reports that Congressman Eliot Engel has failed to provide full disclosure about a large personal loan he received from a campaign contributor.  Engel borrowed between $100,000 to $250,000 from a long-time political contributor to buy a Bronx apartment.

Seabrook Circus Begins Again

Part 2 of Councilman Larry Seabrook's corruption trial is under way and it already has a lot of the craziness we saw in the first trial, which ended in a mistrial. Seabrook, who is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a not-for-profit, started off by insisting that prosecutors call him "Councilman Seabrook” or “Mr. Seabrook” but never just “Seabrook.” A Daily News editorial suggests maybe he should be called "Your Majesty" or just plain "guilty". 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

State Senator Provides Some Hope

In the aftermath of the conviction of Pedro Espada and another episode of disappointment for Bronxities comes a great story about State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who defeated Espada.  The New York Times has a great profile of Rivera, who is regarded by many as a breath of fresh air in a cesspool state legislature.  If even half of the story is true, it puts Rivera head and shoulders above most of his colleagues. Let's hope he maintains his integrity and does not let this system corrupt him. People in that Senate district in particular deserve it. 

Justice Finally Catches Up With Espada

Pedro Espada (left) and his son
Former Senator Pedro Espada, a poster child for political corruption for years, has finally been brought to justice.  He was found guilty of four counts of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the healthcare center he founded in the Bronx.  The New York Post reports that the government will move forward with retrying him on additional charges. The jury deadlocked on those charges, so this saga will continue for Espada and his son. This is another sad story of betrayal and greed, but most Bronxities saw this one coming for years. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Bronx Primaries on Tap Involving "Riveras"

Looks like there may actually be at least three primaries in the Bronx in the coming months -- and they all involve a person with the last name Rivera, although none are related. In addition to the primary of Naomi Rivera mentioned on this blog earlier, Gustavo Rivera also has a challenger. The Norwood News reports that Manny Tavarez will be running against Rivera. Tavarez worked on the campaign of Hector Ramirez who tried to unseat Assemblyman Nelson Castro. In addition to that race, there will be a hot contest to replace outgoing Assemblyman Peter Rivera, who is leaving the Assembly after two decades to head up the State Labor Dept. under Gov. Cuomo.  The Norwood News says that Danny Figueroa, Rivera's longtime Chief of Staff is looking to take the seat. Another contender could be Luis Sepulveda, who challenged Riveral in 2010.  Getting hard to keep all these Rivera's straight. Let's hope that Joel Rivera does not get a challenge next! 

Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera to Get a Primary

It appears that State Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, daughter of former Bronx Boss Jose Rivera, will have to work over the summer now that a newcomer has decided to challenge her in a primary. The Daily News reported that real estate broker Mark Gjonaj will challenge Rivera in the primary this September.  Mr. Gjonaj grew up on Arthur Avenue and is a Commissioner on the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Stay tuned for this one.

Espada Probably Won't Testify

The NY Post reports that Pedro Espada, former State Senate Majority Leader, will not testify at his own trial for embezzlement. He is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a health-care charity he controlled.  When asked Espada said, My side has been provided adequately and completely by my attorney." 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Diaz Jr. Not Happy with Potential Armory Bids

After all the years of battling over the Kingsbridge Armory and the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. opposing the prior development plan, we now get word that he may be disappointed with the potential bidders. According to a posting in the wnyc blog, the BP is not excited by any of the proposals which are said to include a mega church but not a big box store. It would be sad, and more than ironic, if a good proposal is not submitted after Diaz led the effort to kill a former offer valued at over $300 million.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Post Writer Giove Calls Senator Klein Unethical

Post writer Candice Giove is perfecting the trade she learned at the knee of Andy Wolf at the Riverdale Review with an all out attack on the ethics of State Senator Jeff Klein. In this piece she does not leave a stone unturned in making her case that he is the most unethical person in the world -- even going after his pet iguana. She refers to him as "slick", "gamed the system", "possibly broken the law", "ethical breaches", and "perpetually tanned". Is it a coincidence that her mentor Andy Wolf hates Klein almost more than anyone (and that says a lot!).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Former Diaz Aide Charged with Stealing from Non Profit

A former staffer to State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. has been charged with stealing $75,000 from a not for profit founded by Diaz. Over the years, Diaz has funneled over $500,00 to the organization. In a statement printed in the Norwood News, Diaz said “For now, my dear reader, you will have to wait for the results, but I assure you that if I ever lose my salvation, it will not be for taking money because I am in the business of giving not in the business of taking.” A day later Diaz sent out a very cryptic statement about the arrest.

Feds Reveal Espada Liked Sushi and Lobster

Now that former State Senator Pedro Espada's federal corruption trial is underway, there promises to be a daily list of interesting nuggets -- like today's disclosure that he spent more than $60,000 on sushi and lobster. The New York Post has the daily tally.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

BP Diaz Learns He May Not Have So Many "Friends"

Here is an interesting article about a hard lesson learned by Bronx Borough Presiden Ruben Diaz, Jr.'s about his large circle of "friends" on facebook. Here is a guy who has the maximum number of friends allowed by facebook (5000) and yet when he recently had a gathering for his facebook friends only about a dozen showed. Lesson one learned. Lesson two came weeks earlier when Diaz used facebook to garner support for the new Freshdirect project in the Bronx was blindsided by the lack of support from his friends. One posting by local gadfly Karen Argenti (pictured with Diaz) said it all -- " This is a plan to utilize public lands without reviewing community input….Too bad there wasn't an unlike button!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bronx Boss Heastie Fighting Over Redistricting

Here is an article by Fredric Dicker of the New York Post about the battle raging over redistricting which has pitted Bronx County Boss Carl Heastie against Manhattan Boss Keith Wright. Heastie accuses Wright of "trying to “colonize’’ The Bronx by demanding a three-county district controlled by Harlem powerbrokers but containing an overwhelming number of Bronx and Westchester voters, sources said. " The battle over Congressional lines has exposed some strong borough and racial animosities.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

City to Vote on FreshDirect Plan Supported by Bronx BP

Here is an article about the recent deal made to lure Fresh Direct to the Bronx. Some residents have raised concerns about the company's practices given that it will get over $100 million in subsidies. But others have argued that it will create many new jobs in a borough that definitely needs it. The Mayor and Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. have strongly supported the move and subsidies.

Diaz, Sr. Hints At Running for Congress

Here is a press release by State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. that was posted on Capitol Confidential where he hints about his interest in running for Congress. In discussing the redrawing of Congressional lines, he says, "according to the census, the Bronx has gained population and I as well as many others are on the waiting list to decide what our options are. A new congressional seat in the Bronx will give many of us an opportunity to consider moving up. "

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Riverdale to Have Only One State Senator Under New Rules Proposed by Senate -- Jeff Klein

The new Senate district being proposed by the state GOP Senate would eliminate the current configuration of three Senators representing Riverdale and would have just one Senator representing the area and much of Kingsbridge Heights. That Senator would be Jeff Klein. So while most residents may be thrilled to see the area consolidated into the hands of one very competent and hard working elected official, there is probably one other elected official who is not happy about this proposal even though he might pick up some new areas of Kingsbridge Heights.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Riverdale Review Editor Finally Admits that Congressman Engel and Councilman Koppell Helped Him Acquire Paper

Chris Bragg over at City Hall blog managed to get an answer to a question that people have been asking for nearly a decade -- who helped Andy Wolf acquire the Riverdale Review nearly two decades ago? The answer confirmed the long-standing rumors that Congressman Eliot Engel and Councilman Oliver Koppell were instrumental in his ability to acquire the paper. Earlier today Andy Wolf "acknowledged that in the mid-1990’s – when he bought the Review – Engel made a phone call to a Elias Karmon, a local businessman, in an effort persuade Karmon to give Wolf a loan that would allow him to buy the paper. Wolf declined to say how much the loan was worth. Wolf also acknowledged that Koppell, an attorney, did some pro-bono legal work on his behalf that helped complete the transaction. " For years it has been whispered that these elected officials made it possible for Wolf to acquire the paper, and it appears they have been rewarded handsomely with two decades of favorable coverage. Not surprisingly, despite being asked in another local publication about their involvement, neither has ever acknowledged any role -- but that may change now that Wolf has come clean.

New Candidate Emerges for Koppell Council Seat

Chris Bragg over at the City Hall blog reports that Clifford Stanton has emerged as a candidate for the 11th Council district currently held by the term-limited Oliver Koppell. Stanton is a small business owner and a parent leader at two local schools. He is also a leader in the year long boycott of the Riverdale Review and its editor Andy Wolf.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Andy Wolf Kisses Diaz, Jr.'s Ring (And Everything Else)

Here is a campaign newsletter for Ruben Diaz, Jr. disguised as a legitimate article in the online NY Sun written by Andy Wolf -- the editor of the Riverdale Review. Wolf writes glowingly about Diaz and credits him for victories regarding jobs in the Bronx, the Kingsbridge Armory and the living wage. So while the Bronx remains the Borough with the highest unemployment rate in the City, somehow Wolf thinks Diaz has hit all home runs. Contrast that with this unprecedented joint editorial put out by four Bronx newspapers (the Riverdale Press, Norwood News, Hunts Point Express and Mott Haven Herald) about the living wage bill and the Armory, which said "Diaz’s statements saluting the deal and the revival of talks to develop the armory expose him as an empty suit."

State Senator Diaz Wants to Give Leadership Positions to Rebel Group

Here is a piece by Chris Bragg discussing a proposal by State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. that would give leadership positions to the four members of the Senate breakaway group known as the Independent Democratic Conference. The group includes Jeff Klein and Diane Savino. Diaz's goal in offering those positions is ensure that the Democrats can retake the Senate. As some may recall, Diaz led another breakaway group known as the Four Amigos -- three of which are either in jail or on their way there today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mayor Set To Announce New RFP for Armory

Ahead of his State of the City Address, Mayor Bloomberg has announced that a new Request for Proposal will be issued for the Kingsbridge Armory. The Norwood News reports that the RFP will not include a requirement of a living wage -- which helped to sink the prior bid. Despite that, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is supporting this latest RFP.

Senator Klein Introduces Anti-Bullying Legislation

State Senator Jeff Klein has introduced legislation aimed at cyber bullying. "Klein said the bill would add the charge of third-degree stalking to include bullying through electronic communications, add texting or computer communications to the means to the charge of aggravated harassment and update the crime of first-degree criminal impersonation to include electronic communications."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bronx BP Asks for Vote on Living Wage Bill

Here is a New York Daily News story reporting on a video put out by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. calling on the City Council to hold a vote on the Living Wage bill. The bill would require builders who receive any taxpayer subsidies to ensure that any future jobs at the site pay $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not taken a position on the bill.

Assemblyman Jose Rivera Asks ABC to Apologize to Puerto Ricans

Here is a press release from Assemblyman Jose Rivera calling on ABC to apologize to Puerto Ricans for the way they were portrayed in a new sitcom called "Work It". The show contains a scence where a Puerto Rican character states “I am Puerto Rican – I’d be great at selling drugs.” The Assemblyman's statement says, in part, "The fact that in the 21st Century we still have to change the channel in order to prevent our children from hearing comments on TV and film that attack their humanity and self esteem is unacceptable. We should not live in fear of watching TV or going to the movies because we do not know when the next insult is coming. We demand that ABC apologize to the Puerto Rican community at the beginning of the next episode of “Work It” and that the President of ABC meet with Puerto Rican community leaders to create a plan in which, instead of discriminating against the Puerto Rican community, the network promotes the rich tradition and contributions of Puerto Ricans and Latinos in general."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seabrook Given 350k to Hand Out Despite Indictment

Here is an editorial from the NY Post about indicted Councilman Larry Seabrook getting $350,000 in pork to hand out despite the fact that he is under indictment for misappropriating pork to not-for-profits. Speaker Christine Quinn is under fire from many newspapers and good government groups for making the money available to a guy with the nickname "Cash and Carry Larry".

Panel Finds Espada Improperly Hired Uncle

Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal reporting that a state ethics panel has determined that there is probable cause that former State Senator Pedro Espada broke New York law by hiring his uncle. He is currently under indictment for much more serious charges so this seems to be minor compared to all the other bad stuff he has done.

NY Post Criticizes DeBlasio and Diaz, Jr. on Living Wage and Jobs

Here is a NY Post editorial criticizing Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio and Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr. over their stance on the living wage bill. DeBlasio only recently supported the bill and Diaz loudly applauded his stance. The editorial states, "Two years ago, Diaz got the council to kill a promising plan to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall — which could have provided thousands of jobs — by insisting on living-wage salaries at the site. The demand made the project economically unviable — and the developer, the Related Co., pulled out. Puff went the mall. And all the jobs. Diaz couldn’t have been prouder. “The notion that any job is better than no job no longer applies,” he exulted. Two years later, The Bronx boasts the highest unemployment in the state. Now, Diaz is applauding de Blasio, citing his “support for this historic legislation.”