Tag Archives: Charlie Rangel

Dominican Prez Candidate Resurrects Obama ‘Birther’ Issue at Bronx Hispanic Clergy Confab

18 Apr

By Bob Kappstatter

Whoopsie Diaz!

The ever-controversial (and lovin’ it) Bronx state senator and Pentecostal minister Ruben (The Rev) Diaz Sr.  —along with a host of city and state Dominican-American politicians — has laughed himself into the President Obama “birther” controversy.

Those electeds may have some ‘splainin’ to do over their lack of protest after the audience at a luncheon meeting of Diaz’ Hispanic clergy organization erupted in loud and long laughter after former Dominican Republic President Hipolito Mejia joked about Obama’s supposed African birthroots.

Mejia, one of two current presidential candidates courting local Dominican voters for the May 20 election , was caught on video in his opening remarks at the April 4 meeting of Diaz’ New York Hispanic Clergy Organization joking that “If Obama who came from Africa and grew up over there can become the President, why can’t any of you reach as high considering you have a more amusing [ethnic] mix than Obama’s?”

While Diaz is shown roaring with laughter along with the rest of the audience, Mejia’s comment has been roundly condemned on the island nation, with 31 of its 32 senators there sending a letter of apology to President Obama.

But as for local city and state electeds at the luncheon, they’ve so far apparently remained silent in condemning the remark – and the response from the politically powerful Diaz and the roomful of conservative Hispanic preachers – whose congregations represent a strong voting bloc.

That includes upper Manhattan state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who’s challenging Rep. Charlie Rangel in a newly redrawn district taking in Espaillat’s district and a newly-added, heavily Dominican western swath of the Bronx.

Also among fellow elected Dominican-Americans in the audience were northern Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, Bronx Councilmember Fernando Cabrera (who’s half Puerto Rican), Assemblymen Marcos Crespo and Nelson Castro and Castro’s female district leader Yudelka Tapia.

Mejia, who has The Rev’s endorsement, also told the group that as president he would never allow gays to marry or weaken the island’s strict anti-abortion laws. Diaz, a conservative-leaning Democrat, fought bitterly against the state legislature’s approval of same-sex marriage and has led a number of anti-abortion protests.

While the story apparently hasn’t made any ink in the English-language media, it showed up on a local blog  with the video.

It also showed up in an email sent out on Monday by Bronx political player and former Obama campaign operative Haile Rivera, who called on Mejia to personally apologize to Obama.

We tried in vain all day Tuesday to connect with Diaz, who was in Albany.

If we had, we’d hoped to also bring up an interesting sidenote.

The Rev has been denying for a number of years a persistent rumor that he was really born in the Dominican Republic and not in Puerto Rico.

But we’re sure he can easily clear the issue up, by producing his birth certificate ….

Bob Kappstatter, the former long-time Bronx Bureau Chief and columnist for the Daily News, is an occasional contributor to Bronx Matters.

Morning Matters — 4/10/12

10 Apr

The New York World reports: “The state Office of Court Administration will reverse the controversial 2004 merger of the Bronx Criminal and Supreme courts, which attorneys have blamed for lengthy delays that infringe on the rights of criminal defendants.” Read more.

Vince Morgan, a former staffer for Congressman Charlie Rangel who challenged his former boss in the 2010 Democratic primary and planned to do so again, has ended his bid  and endorsed Adriano Espaillat.

Community Board 1 residents voted unanimously late last month to condemn the process that led to the approval of the deal that paved the way for Fresh Direct to create its new factory in the Harlem River Yards. The board’s district manager, Cedric Loftin, disagrees.

“Mama’s Boys of the Bronx,” the new TLC reality show that follows a bunch of 35-year-old Italian men who still live at home with their mamas and apparently aren’t shy about reporting and discussion their sexual exploits under the same roof, premiered last night. (Video)

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was a critic of stop-and-frisk when Giuliani was mayor, Michael Powell reports.

Woodlawn Cemetery now has a tour of gravesites foodies will love.

A sculpture installed in West Farms, called “For Closure” is “meant to represent the fragility of the housing market.” (Video)

The Fate of Rangel & Engel: More Bronx Redistricting Discussion

7 Mar

From reader Jack commenting on previous post.

Not sure what Mr. Kappstatter means by “Charlie Rangel totally screwed out of the Bronx.” The maps I’ve seen aren’t too precise, but from what I can see Rangel’s district (the 13th under Mann’s numbering) does move up the far west of the Bronx starting along the Harlem River around Highbridge. It starts jutting further east around University Heights, covering all of Kingsbridge, Bedford Park, and Norwood. A lot of us Bronxites in the Northwest move from Engel to Rangel.

Kappstatter is also wrong about “only Riverdale” staying in Engel’s district. The maps show Woodlawn and a significant portion of Wakefield and other east Bronx neighborhoods (can’t tell if it stretches as far as Co-op City — don’t think so. That would be interesting though, since Co-op City is Engel’s original base. He first won a seat in Congress as a Co-Op City guy.)

I imagine Engel isn’t happy with all the money he spent on lobbyists (including the convicted tax evader Nick Spano!) Frankly though — his district was absurdly drawn to maximize his Jewish vote. I don’t see Engel running in Rockland — he was only up that far to capture the Jewish vote. The question is — is his Riverdale base strong enough to carry him in parts of Westchester where people will have never even heard of him. (Except that he camps out for the State of the Union) My question — who would run against him? Stewart-Cousins would seem to have a good base for this district. Who are some of the ambitious pols in lower-Westchester who may be tempted?

Bob Kappstatter responds:

Nita Lowey vs. Engel?

And Jack is right, Engel’s new district would swing across the top of the Bronx over to Co-op City (Darn those small maps!), but it’s questionable whether he could still pull votes from there after Joe Crowley (who would lose it in his new district) has had it for a number of years.

Professional political numbersmeister Jerry Skurnik pointed out to me that “Engel’s present district is only 40% Bronx and he hasn’t faced a serious Westchester or Rockland opponent since 2002.”

As for Charlie Rangel, although the new district DOES cut into a piece of the northwest Bronx, Charlie (who’s father was Puerto Rican) would being running in an overwhelming Latino district (55.1% Hispanic, 35.% black), with a large number of Hispanic electeds already chomping at the bit to run there.

“Carlito” might/maybe squeeze through in a primary if they all pile in and dilute the vote.

Right now, this is all so much political bloviating. We shall see, and let the games begin!

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