Tag Archives: Ruben Diaz Jr.

5.30.14 — Bronx News that Matters

30 May

Busy day, but here are a few articles that quickly got my attention this morning:

Bronx Times editor Bob Kappstatter reports on why the borough president is not participating in The Bronx’s Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday.

This Capital New York article reports that Gov. Cuomo may “declare the Senate Coalition,” that is the Republicans partnering up with the Independent Democratic Conference (which Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein leads), a “failure.” That’s because he wants them to pass legislation for “a publicly financed campaign system for statewide candidates,” and that’s not happening. Will this help Oliver Koppell’s challenge against Klein? We’ll see what Cuomo actually does.

Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News reports on how much more public dough Donald Trump is getting from the city for his Bronx golf course compared to all the others.

Bronx Times editor Bob Kappstatter reports on why the borough president is not participating in The Bronx’s Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday.

And this is relevant to every neighborhood in the city: The New York Times reports on legislation the City Council is pushing forward to avoid traffic deaths.

 

5.28.14 — Bronx News that Matters

28 May

Harry Bubbins, head of the Friends of Brook Park, lays out his position on why the city’s financial support of FreshDirect taking over a chunk of the south Bronx’s waterfront has gotta go.. He calls on Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. to get back to his previous positions and on Mayor de Blasio to follow his current ones.

Beginning last night, Bronx Times broke a story that Montefiore is merging with Yeshiva University’s Einstein College of Medicine. Montefiore announced it today, the paper just reported.

Do you want the Citi Bike program up and running — uh, biking — in the Bronx?

Think the Bronx is, or was ever, in tough shape? It certainly was, especially in the 70s and 80s, but that seems like nothing compared to what Detroit is going through now. What do you think?

Anyone with kids in city schools knows how limited or completely absent sports and phys ed are in public schools. Jim Dwyer focuses on this issue in the Bronx.

Norwood News reports on the 52nd Precinct cracking down on barbecuing in local parks. Community orgs are doing the same.

Arthur Avenue, the Bronx’s (better) Little Italy, is now home to a new Latin fusion joint, reports Bronx News 12.

Why Diaz Will Enshrine Fat Joe on Walk of Fame

17 May

Patrice O’Shaugnessy seems to have figured out why Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. will be honoring rapper Fat Joe — he with the misogynist and violent lyrics — on the borough’s Walk of Fame this weekend. Let us know if you think she’s on the right track.

We’ve been kind of surprised that no one has written about this issue since the Hunts Point Express raised it in a critical editorial.

Adolfo the Republican?

9 May

While running for Bronx borough president in 2001, Adolfo Carrion, Jr. joined a protest against the U.S. Navy bombing of Vieques Puerto Rico and landed in Brooklyn federal prison. It wasn’t a reliable indicator of his actions once he took office. (Photo: Jordan Moss/Norwood News)

By Jordan Moss

Is former Bronx Borough President Adolfo a Republican?

Seems absurd on the face of it, but Carrion invited speculation when choosing to not deny the possibility when asked by The New York Times last week if he would consider running for mayor as a Republican as some city bigshots are recommending. The Post had some more to say about it yesterday.

Carrion rose as a loyal member of the Bronx Democratic machine (who eventually tussled behind the scenes with party boss Jose Rivera after ascending to the borough’s top job).

He left in the midst of a second term to work for Democrat-in-Chief Barack Obama  as the first director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. He left in May 2010 to become a HUD regional director.

Hardly a typical Republican pedigree.

But some Carrion comments in February to Capital New York reporter Azi Paybarah sounded a bit like a Dem trying on some GOP training wheels.

On public housing:

Carrion, the former Bronx borough president who is eying a run for Congress or citywide office, also sought to distinguish himself from “the noise on the left” when it came to public housing.

In the same interview last week, he told me, “The whole notion of subsidy is that you’re in a financial difficulty, and the intent was never that you create permanency.”

Carrion stressed that he was committed to helping the elderly, veterans and families that “have a set of circumstances that will require them to stay” in subsidized housing.

“But the notion that able-bodied people who ultimately can go to work are being fully subsidized for their entire lives, I just think it kills the spirit of reaching for opportunities that we want in every single American,” Carrion said. “And you know, that sort of lifts me out of the noise of the left.”

On paying retail workers more:

“When I left the borough presidency, the project was ready to go,” Carrion said, speaking about [the] Kingsbridge [Armory]. “And my successor, who I think is doing a good job representing the Bronx, decided that this was an important issue, that he should try to carve out a deal for the workers. The problem with that was always that there is no precedent that I know of, of national retailers carving out special wages for markets around the country.”

Carrion, who is an urban planner by training, said it’s not realistic to demand retail stores pay workers salaries that enable them to lead their household.

“I think what they do generally is they pay a rate that is whatever the market will absorb and with the understanding that retail jobs go to relatively young people, semi-retired people, students; that they are not really career positions,” said Carrion. “You don’t grow up in Kingsbridge and aspire to be a retail worker at, you know, Modell’s. You just, you know, you don’t.”

He said, “You do it as a way to complement your family’s income as a participant in that household, as a student, as a young person, or because you’re transitioning out of a difficult situation. Temporary, in a bigger sense of the word.”

Carrion almost never lines up in front of or alongside pushes from the grassroots, as say his successor, Ruben Diaz, Jr. did in championing the Living Wage efforts of community activists and unions or as a young assemblyman taking a lead in demanding police accountability following the killing of Amadou Diallo. Carrion did get arrested for protesting the Navy bombing of Vieques while he was first running for borough president, along with Rivera, but following that early aberration he mostly favored backing corporations taking on big controversial development projects — like Yankee Stadium and the Related Companies’ Gateway Mall — which received significant public subsidies.

But still, a Puerto Rican Bronx Democrat turned Republican? It’s happened before. The first Puerto Rican borough president, Herman Badillo, did become a Republican, but only very late in his career when he sought the Republican nomination against Mike Bloomberg. So, while not unprecedented, not too successful either.

But some political consultants see a potential opening, maybe because candidates running as Republicans have now ruled the Big Apple for almost 20 consecutive years.

“There is a space for an Hispanic to run for some citywide office,” veteran political consultant Jerry Skurnik told the New York Post. “If Bloomberg could run as a Republican, why can’t he?”

‘Best’ Living Wage Law Is in San Jose

30 Apr

The long debated and delayed living wage legislation, emanating from an epic land use battle at the Kingsbridge Armory, is coming to a vote today.

A press release drafted by the retail workers union and the Living Wage NYC Coalition, which we received from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office yesterday, states: “Culminating an historic two-year campaign that created a citywide living wage movement that sets the standards for nationwide policies, the final Living Wage Bill will be voted on by the New York City Council at the stated meeting this coming Monday.”

The ” sets-the-standards” language is consistent with Diaz and his staff repeatedly reffering to the legislation as the “best” in the country.

The Council legislation here initially affected retailers in developments receiving taxpayer subsidies. But it was eventually gutted to only include employees of the developer and then further whittled down by Council Speaker Christine Quinn exempting workers at a massive development on the west side of Manhattan. Estimates now indicate that about 400 workers will benefit from the NYC legislation and only if the Council can override the mayor’s vowed veto.

As far as we know, only Riverdale Press reporter Adam Wisnieski  has bothered to check out the claim that this bill is the “best” in the land. He found that through a 1998 law in San Jose, more workers receive higher pay  in a city about an eighth the size of NYC.

Approximately 600 workers were affected in San Jose, a city with less than 1 million people when a living wage law was passed in 1998, according to a study on living wage by the University of Washington. The subsidy threshold is lower than what will be required to trigger the law New York. The definition of “living wage” also changes with the cost of living.

Right now, any developer receiving $100,000 or more in taxpayer subsides in San Jose is required to pay $13.59 per hour with health benefits or $14.84 per hour without benefits, according to the city’s website.

Compare that to New York’s $1 million subsidy threshold and requirement to pay $10 per hour with benefits and $11.50 without, and San Jose has a stronger living wage bill than New York.

And, arguably, a measure in Los Angeles bests the bill here as well, Wisnieski reports.

Hunts Point Express: BP Should Not Add Rapper Fat Joe to Bronx Walk of Fame

26 Apr

Bernard Stein, editor of the Hunts Point Express, has published an editorial taking Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. to task for planning to induct the Bronx-born rapper Fat Joe into the borough Walk of Fame next month.

It was the Florida-based rapper’s lyrics drew Stein’s attention. He included a few of them from Fat Joe’s song “Porn Star”:

I never seen an ass like that
no I never seen seen an ass so fat (tat, tat, tat)
I’mma beat it til tomorrow
And all I keep telling her is “shut up bitch, swallow”
Your legs is shaking
I won’t hurt you
Now you can be the star of that new commercial

Calling the rapper “an outstanding citizen and role model to countless Bronxites,” Diaz issued a press release announcing the impending induction earlier this week. Stein’s piece was reprinted in The Riverdale Press this week.

We asked the borough president’s office if they’d like to comment on the issues raised in the Express piece but we haven’t heard back yet.

—Jordan Moss

Peter Rivera’s New Job and the Race He Leaves Behind

25 Mar

By Bob Kappstatter

The long national nightmare, as they say, for Bronx Assemblyman Peter Rivera finally ended on Saturday when Gov. Cuomo named him new state labor commissioner.

Assemblyman Peter Rivera

The announcement came at the annual Somos El Futuro winter conference of the state Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, where Rivera is an elder statesman whose appointment can’t but help Cuomo solidify his Latino support.

Rivera, according to all reports, has pretty much been searching for a new paycheck outside the state Assembly for a number of years now, while still hedging his bets over running for another term or for a judgeship.

Before his new state gig, Rivera’s last hope was reported to be a run for the plum job of Bronx Surrogate, whose office doles out assignments (and fancy fees) to party-faithful lawyers to handle the estates of persons who die without wills.

Although Rivera was saying as late as Friday that he was weighing a run for Surrogate, that dream pretty much crashed and burned recently when the Bronx Democratic Party’s non-partisan judicial screening panel put the kibosh on it, labeling the attorney and former assistant Bronx D.A. “unqualified.”

Not that he would have received party backing in the judicial primary (Dem Party Boss Carl Heastie reportedly already has a favorite candidate) or might have survived his next Assembly primary race, with the opposing candidate already backed by a powerful local state senator.

Although baseball and politics ain’t over ’til it’s over, a number of Bronx political insiders say attorney and party operative Luis Sepulveda now holds the winning edge to fill Rivera’s 76th Assembly District seat in Parkchester/Castle Hill/West Farms/Van Nest.

His nearest challenger in the Democratic primary is Rivera’s longtime chief of staff, Danny Figueroa, who only recently began to plow the district for votes – and name recognition.

Continue reading

Back on Road to Armory Redevelopment?

20 Mar

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition will be rallying once again to bring good jobs and community uses to the Armory. (Photo by J. Moss)

Yet another chapter is beginning in the two-decade old development saga at the Kingsbridge Armory. Proposals for the facility are due in later this week and whether this latest try at reimagining the landmark will stick and work is anyone’s guess. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which has been laying down its visions for the Armory since the late 1990s is holding a rally there tomorrow night at 6 p.m (corner of Kingsbridge Road and Reservoir Avenue). They’re calling again for living wage jobs and also for community space, opportunities for small businesses and no big-box retail. All that stuff got a little buried in the push last time around for what ended up mainly as a living wage campaign. That fight successfully buried the mayor’s proposal for a Related shopping mall at the Armory (a la Gateway near Yankee Stadium) as a new borough president, Ruben Diaz, Jr. got in front of an organized, union-backed campaign. The Council defeated the mayor’s plan handily, which is a real rarity in land use issues.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this as I’ve been covering the Armory since 1993 when District 10 Superintendent John Rehill wanted to see a massive complex of public schools there right after the National Guard handed over the keys of the head house and drill hall to the city. In the meantime, if you’re interested, here’s a link to a bunch of stories (67 actually) about the Armory that I and other wrote for the Norwood News, and my detailed take on what was going on at the time the Council defeated the mall plan.

—Jordan Moss

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers