Ben Kallos, a candidate for City Council on the Upper East Side, was apparently offering campaign internships in the south Bronx.
That was according to the campaign website of Pedro Alvarez, a Bronx City Council candidate, which bore a striking resemblance to the website of Mr. Kallos. Under an “internships” section that was removed after Politicker contacted the Alvarez campaign, the text was identical to the Kallos site, even going as far as to mention Mr. Kallos several times.
As the four biggest Democratic mayoral campaigns push against one another for every voter in the five boroughs, their focus has often turned to the Bronx, home to constituencies that none of them can lay natural claim to.
And, earlier today, former Comptroller Bill Thompson was the latest to announce Bronx officials’ endorsements in the form of Congressman José Serrano and his son, State Senator José Serrano. The duo labeled Mr. Thompson a “coalition builder” who can reach out to their heavily Hispanic communities.
Church & State
Cops resemble “slave catchers.” Sal Albanese never smoked a joint. The Bloomberg Administration has locked the men of God out of City Hall.
These were all arguments presented at yesterday’s peculiar mayoral forum, moderated by clergymen in the Bronx.
“How do you make the city safe with the thugs who are running around from the police department undercover who are from the outer boroughs and Long Island?” Randy Credico, a comedian and long-shot mayoral candidate, boomed. “They have thousands of undercover cops that are whacked out on steroids, going around like slave catchers, this is true, like slave catchers did back in the 1860′s and 1850′s in the wake of the fugitive slave law.”
As the fiery Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr., a New York State Senator, thundered against same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital, his son, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., was about to do the very opposite. The younger Díaz was joining a wave of politicians who have recently reversed their positions in favor of gay marriage, but his father said he was unswayed by the momentum against him.
“Marriage is sacred. Marriage is an institution established by God and it should stay that way,” he said. “The majority is not always right. 2,000 years ago the majority chose the rabbi and rejected Jesus. Now, the majority are rejecting the Bible and not choosing Jesus. I know my conviction and I know I will not change my view. I could be only one in the whole world and I would not change my view.”
As expected, Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro, who wore a wire to help indict his colleague, Eric Stevenson, announced his resignation today. Stepping down from office, in addition to cooperating with federal authorities, were steps he took in order to avoid prosecution himself.
“Today I announce that I am resigning my seat in the New York State Assembly, effective Monday, April 8, 2013,” Mr. Castro said in the statement, which can be viewed in full below. “On July 31, 2009, I was indicted by a Bronx County Grand Jury for committing perjury in a 2008 civil matter, held prior to my election to the Assembly. I appreciate the seriousness of my misconduct. Thereafter, I agreed to cooperate with …. various investigations aimed at rooting out public corruption.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Two days ago, when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said New York State corruption cases were beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, he was rather prescient. This afternoon, Mr. Bharara unsealed charges against Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, making him the third New York City lawmaker to be charged with corruption this week. Additionally, another Bronx Assemblyman, Nelson Castro, was the cooperating witness in the latest case and will resign today.
“So here we go again,” Mr. Bharara began. “This has become something of a habit. For the second time in three days, we unsealed criminal charges against a sitting member of the State Legislature. And based on what is alleged in this complaint, it becomes more and more difficult to avoid the sad conclusion that political corruption in New York is indeed rampant and that the ‘show me the money’ culture in Albany is alive and well.”
Another Shoe Drops
Moments ago, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office announced yet another New York State elected official, Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, has been arrested and accused of taking bribes. Earlier this week, New York’s political world was rocked when corruption charges were leveled against State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran. Mr. Stevenson’s charges will be formally unsealed at noon today.
“Stevenson is accused of taking bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation that would benefit the co-defendants’ businesses,” the release announcing the press conference declared. “Two of the other defendants are also charged in connection with their payment of a bribe to another Assemblyman, who was actually cooperating with the Government at the time. The charges include conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of Eric Stevenson’s honest services, federal programs and Travel Act bribery conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and Travel Act bribery conspiracy.”
It snowed, hailed and rained on Bill de Blasio’s parade. The public advocate spent Monday, his first official day as a mayoral candidate, on a journey that spanned over sixty miles and all five boroughs, a dramatic, physical manifestation of his plan to propel himself to Gracie Mansion by reaching out to disenfranchised residents in the far flung corners of the city and channeling populist backlash against the policies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg along the way.
The Fourth Estate
According to the NYPD, New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik “violently resisted” being arrested Saturday night and “inadvertently struck” an officer after he got too close to police who were dealing with another suspect. Mr. Stolarik and Times attorney George Freeman dispute this account and claim he was kicked and beaten by the police after simply attempting to do his job. After a long winter that was filled with clashes between New York City’s press and police at Occupy Wall Street, Mr. Freeman told The Politicker this incident shows the NYPD has failed on its promise not to interfere with those who cover the news on city streets. As for, Mr. Stolarik, he just wants to get his cameras and press pass back.
After 41 years in the House of Representatives, Congressman Charlie Rangel faced the fight of his political life last night and came away with a victory. Mr. Rangel’s 22nd term in Congress was threatened by the changing boundaries and demographics of his district, lingering fallout from a tax and fundraising scandal that saw him censured for ethics violations by his House colleagues in 2010 and health issues that sent the 82-year-old in and out of the hospital for two months earlier this year. In a victory speech made from a makeshift stage set up in front of Sylvia’s restaurant in the heart of his longtime base in Harlem, Mr. Rangel praised his supporters, political allies and family for sticking with him through the difficult campaign. He also had harsh words for the press and the rivals who attempted to end his political career.