Bronx Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo will resign from office at the end of the year, according to press reports. She cites “pressing family needs,” which could very well be the case. But the mere possibility of more corruption accusations headed toward a Bronx elected official (a few issues were raised during Arroyo’s last campaign, as I reported in City Limits) made me think of how depressingly common this is in our beautiful borough and beyond. Following is a list of 10 convicted Bronx elected officials I know of. Each name is linked to an article on their particular situation. (Some are articles from the Norwood News which I was editor of between 1994 and 2011.) If there are any I’m forgetting — and, unfortunately, that wouldn’t surprise me — please add your comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll include them in a future post.
Council Member Larry Seabrook, the veteran east Bronx politician who also had stints as assemblyman and state senator, vacated his City Council seat after being convicted of fraud today. The trial was the second for Seabrook, as the first ended in a mistrial last fall.
It was the third conviction of a Bronx lawmaker in the last four years, beginning with state Senator Efrain Gonzalez who, like Seabrook, also formed nonprofits to serve as self-serving siphons. And, of course, former State Senator Pedro Espada, who sent Gonzalez packing in a 2008 primary and then was defeated in 2010 by Gustavo Rivera, was convicted for embezzlement in May.
Bob Kappstatter gives us the first rundown of candidates expected to make bids this fall to take Seabrook’s place. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to order a nonpartisan election for Nov. 5. Even if Seabrook had been acquitted, term limits would have ended his time in the Council next year.
The New York Post reports that, despite being convicted on four federal counts yesterday, former state Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. will be hauled back to court to face charges on alleged crimes the jury couldn’t come to a decision on. Espada’s son, Pedro Gautier Espada, will also be retried, according to an unnamed Post source, after the jury failed to decide on a single count facing him. The elder Espada faces up to 40 years in prison on the four counts.
The do-over trial is reminiscent of the hung jury that couldn’t come to a verdict on the corruption charges brought against Council Member Larry Seabrook. Prosecutors also plan to retry Seabrook
After 11 days of deliberation, a jury announced today that it found former Bronx state Senator Pedro Espada, Jr. guilty of embezzling more than $600,000 from the Soundview Healthcare Center, which he founded and ran. He could receive up to 10 years in prison when sentenced. The jury was deadlocked on a verdict for Espada’s son, Pedro Gautier Espada, but was sent back by the judge to continue deliberating.
Good morning! As some of you may have noticed, Morning Matters is not an everyday thing at this point. I do it whenever I have time in the morning. Here, though, are some interesting nuggets you probably won’t find with a routine “Bronx” Google search.
As Bob Kappstatter reported on Bronx Matters in a previous post, Luis Sepulveda is ramping up a campaign to fill Peter Rivera’s Assembly seat when he becomes state Labor commissioner. Sepulveda now has a one-page website up, with a letter that addresses readers as “constituents,” (a little premature since they won’t be actually be his constituents unless his elected to represent them in the state legislature). The rest of the web site appears to be under construction but a tab titled “To NYS Assembly page” inexplicably leads to the website of Queens Assemblyman Fernando Moya.
The Center for Working Families has released a report on the campaign contributions of former State Senator Pedro Espada, who is currently on trial for allegedly stealing money from the Soundview Healthcare Network, which he founded and managed. Among the report’s findings are that Espada’s fundraising increased sixfold when he became chairman of the Housing Committee and that only 3(!) of those contributions came from within his district.
Daniel Beekman drills down a bit into Census data to find that many more Manhattanites have moved to the Bronx in the last decade, but that may not at all signal gentrification, as many of those intra-city migrants were at or near the poverty level. For more on the controversy concerning whether the south Bronx is gentrifying, which was a hot topic on Bronx Matters last week, click here.
The Riverdale Press reports that the top offender on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s “worst landlord” list is Riverdale resident Josh Neustein, who owns several violation-plagued buildings. Neustein said his “estranged sister,” Amy Neustein made false reports to the city’s housing agency and its Department of Investigation. But she says she is backed up by tenants complaints and the city’s own work examining those complaints. Earlier this month, Amy Neustein wrote this piece for City Limits explaining why she was shining the light on her brother’s work as a landlord.
Good morning! It’s cold out there — kind of a more normal March day.
Quite a number of hits (a Bronx Matters record actually) on two of our posts yesterday by Gregory Lobo Jost on The Times’ controversial announcement of south Bronx gentrification and Bob Kappstatter’s take on Governor Cuomo appointing Assemblyman Peter Rivera to be state labor commissioner. If you haven’t read them they are worth a read — and a comment. Keep the conversation going.
Daniel Beekman continues his solid reporting of Bronx housing issues. Today, he tells the tale of a group of West Farms tenants who banded together to make repairs their absentee landlord has avoided. The want to form a co-op.
Sixteen Bronx schools are contaminated with PCBs leaking from light fixtures, NY1 has learned. Citywide 245 schools in 149 buildings are contaminated. To see the list of schools click on link on the left side of the NY1 story (X before a building number in the first column of the PDF indicates the Bronx.)
Speaking of school contamination, parents are still seeking answers on the conditions at PS 51/Bronx New School which drove them from their Bedford Park building to a former Catholic school in Crotona. Norwood News has the story.
An accountant testified in the Pedro Espada trial yesterday. Not a good day for the former senator.
Jeanmarie Evelly, a Norwood News reporter who is also a contributing editor at City Limits, has this important story in the latter about solitary confinement going way up in city jails.
Good morning, everyone.
Here’s some video documenting this year’s annual painting of the giant shamrock on the 231st Street near Broadway for St. Patrick’s Day.
Tenants and advocates will really outside Bronx Housing Court today in support of a bill, sponsored by Council Member Fernando Cabrera, that will require landlords to post a tenants’ bill of rights in their buildings. The legislation has been stalled for a year.
All that redistricting politics was like a big dose of castor oil for most New Yorkers, but now it’s a hard reality, at least in terms of the Congressional lines. Want to see what district you have landed in? Just plug in your home address here.
Congressman Jose E. Serrano tweeted this morning that it was 20 years ago today that he won a special election for his Congressional seat.
Speaking of anniversaries, not Bronx related (though I heard he once appeared in a folk festival at Hunter College, now Lehman, in the 60s): Bob Dylan celebrates 50 years since he first recorded with Columbia Records.
The opposition to Fresh Direct is ramping up with the group South Bronx Unite launching a boycott against the grocer which is planning on building a factory in the Harlem River Yards. For more on the fledgling South Bronx Unite and a recent gathering in Melrose with veteran foes of the Atlantic Yards development, check out this Bronx Matters exclusive story.
For Bronxophiles this is kind of a must-read. Artists have converged on the stately but empty rooms of the Andrew Freedman home on the Grand Concourse to create installations related to the building and what was left in the areas that the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council does not occupy. The creations won’t be permanent tenants but organizers hope to draw attention to the property and the possibilities of it being a business incubator. There are already plans, the Times reports, to fills some of the empty space with a bed-and-breakfast.
The Center for Public Integrity gave New York a grade of D for its predilection for corruption. Believe it or not, New Jersey got the best grade.
Speaking of corruption, alleged we should say, Pedro Espada’s defense attorney infuriated the judge yesterday.
Good morning. Enjoy the warmth (unless you’re worried about climate change, which I guess we all should be.)
The Times has a brief, clear and comprehensive roundup of where things stand with redistricting. Just what I was looking for.
Depending on how it all shakes out, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who represents northern Manhattan and parts of Riverdale, might take on veteran congressman Charlie Rangel.
The corruption trial of former State Senator Pedro Espada and his son begins this week. The Wall Street Journal sums up the charges and looks at the battle of the healthcare centers that Espada ran to hold on to their Medicaid funding. State Senator Ruben Diaz, Jr. the only member of the “Amigos” club still in office, continues to be a big Espada supporter. “I have not found another one like Pedro Espada, he’s strong, firm, and he’s a good legislator,” he told the Journal.
State Senator Jeff Klein was the subject of a New York Post investigation over the weekend into his business and real estate dealings.
Congressman Eliot Engel hired a Republican lobbyist, Nick Spano, to help him get the district lines he wanted. Didn’t work out so well. the Riverdale Press reports. Engel spent $40,000 but he lines drawn by the legislature remove much of his Riverdale base from the district.
The work of Bronx artist Daniel Hauben, who has long put borough scenes on canvas, will be a central feature of Bronx Community College’s new library. To see a series of images of Hauben’s wonderful work, click here.
Hunts Point residents rallied for the closure of Club Heat, a strip bar where a woman was killed in December. Hunts Point Express has the story.