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Even with Snookigate, Naomi could still be winner

Bronx Times
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SNOOKIGATE

Absentee Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera’s Love Between The Time Sheets scandal just seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, short of the Vatican stepping in to probe her boytoys-on-the-taxpayer-dime ways.

For those who’ve been stowaways on the Mars Rover mission, our Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Snooki is being probed by - ready? - Bronx District Attorney Rob Johnson, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the City Department of Education special commissioner of investigation, and who knows who next.

And here we were telling folks we planned to endorse her for re-election.

Of course the punch line’s been “What would we have to write about without the bad girl of Bronx politics?”

But then Snookigate erupted.

One of Snooki’s ex-squeezes told the NY Post he had no expertise to run a non-profit Rivera poured tax bux into, then allegedly used as a Miss Piggy bank for romantic dinners and trysts in Puerto Rico.

Current boyfriend Tommy Torres, a full-time teacher in Brooklyn who’s running for City Council there, pulled down a sweet $1,100 a week as a “community relations” person on her district office budget.

And of course risque photos on her “private” Facebook page, showing a different kind of “relations” with Tommy.

Thinking no one would ever track her social media? We - and a lot of electeds and political pros out there are calling that just plain STOO-PID!

Playing with public funds for personal use? Potentially criminal.

We refer to the recent cases of Senators Pedro Espada and Efrain Gonzalez, and Councilman Larry Seabrook, all now doing jail time or headed there for thinking non-profits were THEIR piggy banks.

“If I were Naomi, I’d hook up with a good criminal lawyer as fast as I could,” one longtime political pro - one of many - told us after the Post (much credit to reporter Candice Giove) broke the first story in the Snooki scandal.

CAN SHE WIN?

Now here’s a shocker.

Call me meshuga, but Snooki could still actually pull it off, winning the September 13 Democratic Primary.

This after talking to some very savvy political pros.

1. Her newly gerrymandered 80th Assembly District (Thanks, we’re told, to Dem Boss Carl Heastie and adjoining Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz splitting Morris Park in half) is now 45 percent Latino, 32 percent white and 21 percent African-American.

2. The scandal is breaking out late in the game, with less than a month to go to Primary day. And unless there are more scandals under her bed, it’s likely the stories will have tapered off by then while investigators plow through records.

3. The Latino ANTI-Naomi voters are going to see two other Hispanic names on the ballot - Irene Estrada Rukaj and Adam Bermudez - and could go with them, draining votes from main challenger Mark Gjonaj.

4. For better or worse, she has name recognition. “No one knows who this other guy is,” said citywide political macher George Arzt.

5. While he may have his campaign posters plastered all over the place, Gjonaj - or his campaign advisors - have so far run a fairly lame campaign of targeting all of Naomi’s weak points. The scandal is, of course, “Christmas in August” for them as one staffer put it.

6.. Bitter taste or not, as the incumbent she has Bronx County Dem Boss Carl Heastie and the organization behind her - if in fact they DO go all out.

7.. Whether you can believe the hyperbole about her so-called “accomplishments” (some very slick writing by ex-Party Boss Roberto Ramirez’ MIRAM Group), it “reeds gud.”

DUH-BATE

Local cable-TV BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank went through hoops offering Naomi practically an “anytime, anywhere” opportunity to join in a debate with her three challengers, but the Axman tells us Snooki’s staffers kept raising “scheduling conflicts” with the ever-oh-so-busy incumbent.

Now? FUHGEDDABOUDIT!

The other three candidates and an empty chair will be on the show Tuesday, September 4.

THE REV

Is there ANYONE who HASN’T called or visited Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., recuperating from knee replacement, other than any fellow Senate Dems, as he complained?

That includes a “Hello, it’s Tim Dolan” call from Cardinal Dolan to a bedside visit from U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long at the Rebekah Nursing Home, where he’s really keeping visitors in stitches - flashing HIS from the operation.

COP CORNER

Sad news. Inspector Ray Rooney, popular former 50th and 52nd Precinct commander and current No. 2 at Bronx Detectives, suffered a broken neck and his wife Linda was killed in a car accident last week in Pennsylvania. Their daughter, 22, and son, 15, were also seriously injured.

Say a prayer.

COUNCIL LINES

Not quite as dramatic as state assembly and senate redistricting, but maybe a few surprises with city council lines. The Redistricting Commission will hold its Bronx hearing this evening, Thursday, August 23, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, in the East Dining Room, Music Building. Google NYC Districting Commission for more info.

COMMENTS

Note to folks making political comments on this column: If you ain’t registered to vote - SHUT UP!

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