We took a break from the column last week to visit kinfolk, as they say, down in Western North Carolina, where we had the pleasure of once again getting together with Ben Utley, recently retired chairman of the Macon County Democratic Committee there.
Ben’s lot, unlike Bronx Dem Boss Carl Heastie’s, was not a happy one, with some fancy gerrymandering leaving Republicans outnumbering Democrats in reverse ratio to the Bronx.
We always figured southern politics beat Bronx politics by a Carolina mountain mile. But I guess we were wrong.
Ben loved hearing the hanky panky tales of the Wascally Wabbit and Snooki and Bagel Larry and some other borough political characters.
But alas, they soon will all be gone, and we are in serious trouble here.
With the Wabbit, former state Senator Pedro Espada, pleading guilty with the federales last week over enjoying his takeout sushi and other high life pleasures on the taxpayers’ dime, we have just about exhausted our stable of Bronx elected rascals and rascal-ettes that column readers have come to know and love.
They are dropping like flies.
The Wascally Wabbit will be on his way to Chez Fed after sentencing Feb. 22, after years of in-your-face roller skating on the edge of indictment and jury trials.
I recall when we were still on talking terms and he had just escaped the clutches of Bronx D.A. Rob Johnson after a second trial, telling us it was all his accountant’s fault, mixing up those taxpayer bux with personal and campaign expenses. Really!
Pedro always liked to portray himself as a poor kid from the South Bronx who fought his way out of poverty to build a multi-million dollar health care chain and win several elective offices, not always by Marquis of Queensbury rules.
In fact, he kept a symbolic pair of red boxing gloves in his office.
A retired Bronx detective friend who’s now a government investigator told us that when he and IRS agents went to subpena records from the Wabbit’s office, our friend wanted to take the gloves as part of the evidence.
“I just wanted to show we got him red-handed,” he chuckled.
Pedro was also a fun source – when he was talking to me – dishing the dirt on now state Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. when he and The Rev were sparring with each other for various local elective offices.
We recall one time when Pedro pulled off a great Primary day trick, taking the members of a local senior center who favored Diaz on a junket to Atlantic City – before they could vote for The Rev that day.
That was before Pedro and The Rev made up half of the Four Albany Amigos (Banditos, as we called them), creating chaos in the evenly-split state Senate, bringing business to a screeching halt while they shook down both sides of the aisle for funding and power.
So a sad adios to you, Wascally Wabbit.
And moving on, then there’s Snooki – Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, bounced on her culo from office after getting clobbered by a primary challenger with money and the smarts to actually do something for the community while Snooki was more interested in having Fun Between the Timesheets with her boytoy hires.
We may still manage to squeeze some fun ink outta Snooki should any of those city, state and federal investigations bear fruit.
And lastly, there’s The Fox – now ex-City Councilman Larry Seabrook. Although, Bagel Larry became a more timely moniker with that $177 expense account receipt for a $7 bagel and Snapple.
Larry will also be heading off to the pokey early next year, and with his departure, the last of that unique dying breed of local dinosaur, Corrupta Bronx politicus.
That’s still not to say we’re hopeful that some new potential candidates for our political Hall of Bronx Shame will emerge. Be warned: we’re keeping an eye out – with nicknames to follow….
Is newbie Morrisania Assemblyman Eric Stevenson paranoid, or looking to fill his campaign coffers? He’s tossing a fundraiser Oct. 18 at Maestro’s to gird up against a challenger Eric says will be on the Independent Party line in the Nov. 6 general election.
As he states in his mailer pitch for attendees: “I am faced with a candidate on the Independent Party line who is trying to wage an aggressive campaign against me. With hard work and your support we will be victorious. I will not allow individuals to stop the progress that I need to continue to do for my constituents, labor, and small businesses.”
But Google as hard as we could, we couldn’t find any INDEPENDENT Party in the Bronx. A call to the local contact for the INDEPENDENCE Party got us referred to an answering machine at it’s Manhattan office.
The city Board of Elections finally straightened it all out for us.
Eric, it’s the INDEPENDENCE Party and the candidate is Jose A. Padilla Jr., a longtime local political wannabe. Phew!
Oct. 10 – Artie Ramos of Side Street, on Blondell Ave. off Westchester Square, home of some famous Latin musicians over the years.
Oct. 12 – And a happy one to Daily News politigal blogger Celeste Katz, born in Einstein Hospital, as she constantly brags.