With Bronx GOP boss Jay Savino charged – and no doubt secretly recorded – by the feds on a bribery scheme involving state Senator Malcolm Smith looking to get on the GOP mayoral ballot, folks are wondering just what happens to the local party now.
A source close to Savino told us that for the moment, the Rockland County resident intends to remain as chairman.
“As of now, he doesn’t intend step down,” said the source. “The district leaders and the executive committee are behind him. They’re supportive of him.”
It would also be a verrrry wise move on Jay’s part to hang on, since he’s better off as a sitting party boss should it eventually come down to plea negotiations with prosecutors looking to nail a prize political pelt to the barn door.
Should Savino step down, however, on the short list of those being mentioned to succeed him are: party vice chair Dawn Sandow, now the deputy director at the city Board of Elections; highly respected attorney Phil Foglia, GOP co-deputy at the Bronx Board of Elections and east Bronx District Leader Anthony Ribustello, and attorney and former city Board of Elections president J.C. Polanco.
The party has never been a big player in the borough, with about 50,000 registered members, outnumbered by Democrats 10-to-1, and with its voting strength largely in the heavily white, conservative east Bronx.
As for the explosive charges involving Savino and the rest of the players in what’s shaping up to look like an Abbott and Costello farce, Doug Muzzio, a savvy expert and commentator on city and state affairs political can’t decide if the whole affair is tragedy or farce.
“I’m surprised that they could be that hallucinatory and divorced from reality with that scheme. And that they were able to buy these guys so cheap. It was chump change,” said Muzzio, professor of urban affairs at Baruch College, CUNY.
Citing Mayor Bloomberg’s previous large donations in return their ballot line twice, Muzzio added that “clearly the Republican Party in New York City is a rent-a-party. They are whores, able to be bought, legally or illegally.”
While Bronx Dems have the biggest job bank for party loyalists, the borough GOP’s job bank is mostly at the city Board of Elections.
But even before Savino’s arrest and potential downfall, it now looks like those jobs could quickly drain up, thanks to the four Republican City Councilmembers who found a legal loophole to take control of the board through their appointments of commissioners there.
But as one board insider said of “The Fab Four” – “They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.”
The takeover has also sidetracked Bronx Democrats from installing their current commissioner to the board, Naomi Barrera, to fill the top executive director’s slot, which under board tradition, is held by a Democrat. The deputy is traditionally a Republican, and Bronxite Dawn Sandow has been holding down the entire fort since the resignation under a cloud of George Gonzalez in 2010.
It may not be all the Fab Four’s fault that things are stalled. We hear some of the problem could involve one Democratic board member fighting with his county leader over supporting Bronxite Barrera.
Adding to the mishegas, we hear Council Speaker Chris Quinn has been sitting on commissioner’s applications for re-appointment for months now, supposedly to leverage some political horsetrading with county leaders.
Bronx state Senator Jeff Klein left with some egg on his face over bringing key defendant Malcolm Smith in that bribery scandal into his four-member Independent Democratic Conference to counter rival Dem Conference charges his group was all lilly white. Why Jeff couldn’t have found a less controversial (read that potentially indictable) minority, we’ll never know.
But Jeff was quick to act after Smith’s arrest Tuesday, stripping him of all his committee assignments and suggesting Smith might want to consider leaving Albany for good. Jeff’s regular Democratic Conference foes are salivating over this one.
Smoke signals. We hear pot arrests in the Bronx are down 30% and trespass arrests down a whopping 40%. The first after a lotta criticism over cops using Stop-(and supposedly question)-and Frisk to get people to empty their pockets, putting the pot in plain view and giving them an excuse to make a misdemeanor arrest – that usually gets tossed out in court anyway.
And a lawsuit has put a damper on cops patrolling private apartment buildings, even with landlord’s permission.
KENNEDY IN THE HOUSE
Who knew. Kansas City Star reporting on Caroline Kennedy visiting schools out there notes she’s been volunteering for years with public schools in disadvantaged Bronx nabes in a school poetry program and helping with college essay writing.
“I’ve followed some of these kids from middle school through college,” she told the paper. “They didn’t speak English at home, or they were shy. Poetry allowed them to express themselves, to address issues they were having. I watched them grow and evolve. They will tell you how poetry has changed their lives.”
Patty Cake, matriarch of the Bronx Zoo’s gorilla troop at the ripe gorilla age of 40. Besides being the first gorilla born in New York City, she holds a special place in our heart as mother of the first gorilla twins born at the zoo. We had the fun of covering them, as well as headache of dealing with the Daily News naming contest, with 30,000 – some pretty hysterical – entries. Ngomo and Tambo won.
April 3 – Retired First Grade Detective Howard (Howie the Hump) Denton, longtime anchor of Morrisania’s 42nd Precinct.
April 5 – Greg Faulkner, chief of staff for Councilman Fernando Cabrera.