Tag Archives: Ruben Diaz Sr.

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.

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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.

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Morning Mattters, 3/19/12

19 Mar

Spring may be a few days away but with a high of 72 today that doesn’t seem to matter. Here are some news items Bronx Matters finds interesting/important today.

Lead paint violations are still a big problem in the Bronx.

Residents at 1055 Grand Concourse have been without heat and hot water for two weeks.

The new lines for the 29th Senate District, which replaces the 28th and is currently represented by Jose M. Serrano, takes quite the circuitous journey through the Bronx and the east and west sides of Manhattan. (Print version of this article seems to have mistakenly included the photo of Serrano’s dad, Congressman Jose Serrano.)

A Bronx high school near Yankee Stadium isn’t going to get to take any swings this season at the baseball fields that replaced the old stadium.

Tired of waiting for good food and fresh produce to come to the neighborhood, the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center on Mapes Avenue in Crotona has started its own fresh food delivery service.

Developers have just a few more days to submit a Request for Proposals for the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, and the borough president isn’t that happy with what he’s seen so far. [link includes RFP]

State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. is standing up for his aide who allegedly embezzled $75,000 from a nonprofit Diaz helped to found and assailing Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.