Challenging times for Bronx pols


That brewing challenge by west Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera to state Senator Gustavo Rivera has elicited a response from Gustavo that boiled down, translates to “Bring it on!”

Rivera told us he’d rather be working to see more Democrats around the state elected to the Senate – to regain their DULY ELECTED majority without Jeff Klein’s breakaway four-member Independent Democratic Conference tilting it away by co-leading with the Republicans.

But that said, Gustavo had two responses about the Cabrera challenge:

Formally: “We live in a democracy and he is entitled to run if that’s what he wants to do. Ultimately, I am focusing on my constituency.”

Informally: “If he wants a fight, he’s going to get one.”

As for Dem Party backing, while it’s probably a headache for Party Boss Carl Heastie to have to deal with two incumbents going head-to-head in a primary, it looks as if the party’s resources will be available to Gustavo, at least for petition gathering, since he does not have that strong an organization at this point.


So, with petitioning due to begin March 2 for the congressional races, we eagerly await word from Councilwoman Annabel Palma if she’s serious about challenging south Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano.

We keep hearing two sides to Joe’s strength or weakness if he actually finds himself facing a challenge for the June 24 congressional primary, after coasting into office challenge-free since 1990.

The naysayers cite the fact that he’s only got $17,000 in the campaign kitty and no real organization to carry his petitions, do the door knocking and phone banking.

The other camp says he could still easily clobber a challenger, given that he’ll still have party backing as an incumbent, easily get union support, and as ranking member of the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee, can fill his campaign coffers overnight from various fat cats.

Meanwhile, it looks like clear sailing for both Congressmen Eliot Engel and Joe Crowley.

With Manhattan/north Bronx state Senator Adriano Espaillat and the Domincan camp breathing down his neck, Charlie Rangel’s situation COULD be another matter. But more about that later.


Sorry to be a tease, but we’re sworn to secrecy and can’t say it out loud right now. But get ready for an announcement that is gonna shake the local political world in a wide swath of the north Bronx. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing it in the column when it goes up on the web next Thursday ( and in print on Friday.


Former “girls just wanna have fun” Assemblywoman Naomi (Snooki) Rivera seen working the room at last weekend’s 43rd annual conference of the state legislative black, Puerto Rican and Hispanic Conference in Albany. The annual gathering attracts minority lawmakers, leaders and community members from across the state as well as a traditional who’s who of state politicians. Anybody know what she’s been up to these days, give a call….


Big night Wednesday, Feb. 26 as the Bronx Chamber of Commerce holds The Bronx Centennial Gala at the Marina del Rey, with special guests Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr., music legend Jose Feliciano and hocky great Mark Messier.

Honorees will be Montefiore Medical Center, the Trump Golf Course at Ferry Point Park, Simone Development Marriott Hotel and Kingsbridge National Ice Center.

Black tie is optional, but hey, spiff it up for this $250 a seat event and help make the Bronx shine.


BronxNet’s cable TV BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank grousing a short list of local electeds are camera shy, not returning phone calls or accepting requests to be interviewed.

We have the names, but we’ll cut them some slack – for now. So call Gary, awright awready!


Bronx in the house. With new PC Bill Bratton making his chess moves at 1 Police Plaza, it’s interesting to note the high ranking moves include two among a number of brass who’ve made their bones in the Bronx before moving up the greasy pole. Bratton on Tuesday named former Bronx Chiefs of Detectives Joseph Resnick and Robert Boyce as heads of the Internal Affairs Bureau and Chief of Detectives, respectively.

A good man. He may have squeezed our shoes, as cops say, a few time, but former Four-Four Detective Squad boss, Lt. Jim Ruane, done good for his 27 years on the job, and most lately keeping us safe at night with the Joint Terrorism Task Force, crossing over next month to the Fordham University “police department.” Best of luck, you mean man!

Thirty and out. First Grade Detective Vic Harris, the senior man at the 40th Precinct squad in Mott Haven kickin’ it in after 30 years, with a shindig Thursday night at Michaelangelo’s on Arthur Ave.

Gremlin. Oops, sorry, we had a mind melt in the print column last week. It’s First Deputy Commisioner RAFAEL Pineiro (another former Bronx boss). Apologies.


Elvin Garcia, who worked as a regional field director for Mayor Bill’s general election, named as his Bronx borough director at the Community Affairs Unit in City Hall


To Hunter College journalism Prof. Buddy Stein, celebrating his fifth year as editor at the Mott Haven Herald.


Feb. 18 – Congressman Eliot Engel

Feb. 25 – Sylvia Lask (Happy 80th!)

Reach Editor Bob Kappstatter at (718) 742–3395. E-mail him at [email protected].