With all the ink-stained (or these days, carpal tunnel) wretches covering city politics pounding out stories on the horse race for next City Council Speaker, we would be remiss if we didn’t squeeze our two Bronx cents in.
The thoroughbreds du jour appear to be E. Harlem/South Bronx Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Upper East Side’s Dan Garodnick and Mark Weprin of Queens.
Bringing up the rear, according to the buzz, are Harlem’s Inez Dickens, and two Bronx electeds – Soundview’s Annabel Palma and Jimmy Vacca of the east Bronx.
All of the candidates, to be voted on by their council peers (with some behind-the-scenes horsetrading and arm-twisting by incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio and the five Democratic county leaders) will be lame ducks, going into their third and final four-year terms.
With a strong reform move afoot to water down the Speaker’s role, the job could become a shadow of the power last wielded by the Queen of Hearts, Christine Quinn, who instead of heads, has chopped off district funding and bottled up bills of those who crossed her.
While the so-called “progressive caucus” of the Council has signed on to the reforms, Vacca, Palma and Dickens are holding out on some of them, with Jimmy saying the reforms are being “shoved down our throats.”
“I’m not going to sign on to anything that weakens this body,” sayeth Jimmy, who himself “spent three years in the doghouse” for supporting de Blasio against Quinn for the Speaker’s job in 2006.
If Jimmy can’t snag the speakership, he could replace term-limited Bronx Councilman Joel Rivera as Council Majority Leader, becoming head of the Bronx delegation (relieving Palma of the headache), or remaining chair of the powerful Transportation Committee.
On the topic, a public forum, with all Council Speaker wannabes invited, will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18 at the New Settlement Community Center at 1501 Jerome Ave.
Staying on topic, the annual Somos El Futuro confab in San Juan by the State Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force Nov.7-9 was THE place for jockeying for the Speaker’s job:
Pressing the flesh. The circular bar at the El San Juan Hotel and Casino was the nightly campaign central. “Every wannabe Speaker was circling the bar, handshaking all of their colleagues that they’ve known for the last eight years and saying they want to be Speaker,” sayeth one of our spies.
Camping out. While the conference was at the Condado Plaza Hilton on the tacky end of the hotel strip, most of the Bronx delegation once again stayed at the classier Inter-Continental out in Isla Verde, conveniently next door to the El San Juan where the action was.
Sightings. Former Bronx Boro Prez and ex-Democrat Adolfo Carrion, who got clobbered on the Independence Party line in the mayoral race, “walking around like a lost soul,” sayeth another one of our spies, chuckling that current BP Ruben Diaz Jr.’s Republican boro challenger “got more votes than AC did citywide.”
Kissing the ring. Wannabee’s high and low, old and new trekking over the sands to show their props to Bronx Democratic Party consigliere and citywide powerbroker Stanley Schlein at his traditional card game on the beach outside the El San Juan.
Not a lot of Bronx winners as far as incoming alcalde Bill de B. is concerned, since most of the Bronx political establishment joined themselves at the hip with Bill Thompson. But the above mentioned Stanley Schlein and Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s chief of staff Jeff Lynch will no doubt have a direct line into City Hall.
Stanley has been de Blasio’s legal advisor, while Lynch, a savvy political pro, ran de Blasio’s Bronx campaign that crushed Thompson in the primary and continued the high numbers in the general election.
Also owed Mayuh Bill’s thanks: early supporters Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Councilman Andy King,
Unashamed plug for true crime writer (and fellow 1 Police Plaza reporter for a spell) Anthony DeStefano, who drew a large crowd of crime aficiandos at a book signing Nov. 7 at Bay Plaza’s Barnes & Noble for his new book on Throggs Neck mobster Vincent “Vinnie Gorgeous” Basciano. Among those showing up, Vinnie’s ex-wife Angela and other relatives, all friendly we’re told….
If you live in Throggs Neck, Tony’s book is worth the read. “Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise And Fall Of A New York Mobster,” available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com.
Former City Councilman Pedro Gautier Espada spent his 40th birthday Nov. 8 at Brooklyn’s federal Metropolitan Detention Center. He’s doing six months for enjoying the plunder his papi, ex-senator and Wascally Wabbit Pedro Espada Jr. stole from his now defunct Soundview Healthcare chain. Pedro G. walks out next month, but with another six months under house arrest.
Meanwhile, the 60-year-old Wabbit has left former City Councilman Larry Seabrook behind at the federal pen in Pennsylvania, moved to the federal lockup at Fort Dix in New Jersey, where he’s now keeping company with former state Senator Efrain Gonzalez.
They no doubt have some memories to share, since Pedro toppled Efrain for his west Bronx senate seat while Efrain was fighting federal charges of milking a nonprofit. The Wabbit is due out 10/30/17, while the 65-year-old Efrain will be a free man 8/3/2016
Nov. 16 – Former Boro Hall budget director and current city Health & Hospitals Corp. board member Bob Nolan
Nov. 18 – Joe Migliucci of Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue.
Nov. 19 – state Sen. Gustavo Rivera
Nov. 20 – 80th Assembly District Leader Kenny Agosto