Hot seat for Klein not cooling off

HEAT

Senator Jeff Klein has been on the hot seat lately, and though he’s been givin’ as good as he’s gettin’, it’s not cooling off.

The latest issue is a legislative measure, first reported in the Riverdale Press, that Jeff put into the Albany hopper that would have the effect of stopping Montefiore Medical Center’s plan to slap up an 11-story medical facility in Riverdale that locals are screaming about – including potential Jeff challenger and former Attorney General/Assemblyman/City Councilman/School Board Chairman Oliver Koppell.

Problem is, both Monte and the project developer, Simone Development, creators of the Hutch Metro Center where Jeff has his district office, are long time, deep pocket campaign contributors. And Simone stands to make – or lose – big bux building the $50 million project.

The only exit strategy we can figure for Jeff to come out keeping both sides happy is if Dean Skelos, Republican co-leader in the senate with Jeff, steps in to kill the measure, leaving Jeff to say at he least tried.

Jeff has already taken heat for the timing of bringing the state tuition support DREAM Act for college age immigrants to the Senate floor, only to see it go down in defeat by two votes.

And of course, the Senate’s regular Democratic Conference, which WOULD be in the majority but for Jeff’s breakaway Independent Democratic Conference hooking up with the GOP side, is probably loving all this, if not fomenting some of it.

RUNNING SCARED

You can just about feel the sweat coming off of Congressman Charlie Rangel as it appears his support slipping away over to challenger northern Manhattan state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who came thisclose to beating last time by about a thousand votes.

Charlie has suddenly been showing up all over the 20% west Bronx piece of his Harlem district, making up for lost time at the last minute, joining at every press conference and appearance that he can with supportive local electeds, primarily northeast Bronx Councilman Andy King. And his press releases suddenly overfloweth, like a burst PR dam.

Latest harpoon: Bronx Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. throwing his support to Espaillat.

While Ruben beat a loud drum for Charlie the last time, including a big support rally outside the County Building, “this is Adriano’s moment,” said a Diaz ally.

Both Ruben and Adriano have been long time good friends, the source pointed out. And as for Realpolitik, an Espaillat win would certainly help Ruben garner support from the growing Dominican community for his future political plans.

Next big question, where does Dem County Boss Carl Heastie go with the party’s endorsement? He’s already lost any clout he had in the City Council by backing the wrong horse for council speaker. Or maybe he’ll play it safe and just sit this one out. No smoke signals yet out of County.

MONEY MEN

Councilmembers Jimmy Vacca and Andy King will be leading the charge for Bronx funding priorities for projects and organizations in the current City Hall budget talks with Mayor de Blasio – including them and fighting to restore the cut ones. Vacca and King were chosen by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to rep the borough.

VACANCY

We hear attorney LaToya Joyner is starting to look good to run for that vacant seat in the 77th Assembly District in Highbridge recently vacated by Vanessa Gibson, who stepped down to win a seat in the City Council. Joyner was a former intern for current Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene when she held the assembly seat.

-30-

For Riverdale Press editor James Palmer, leaving after less than a year at the helm. Apparently not his cup of tea after working in the world of international journalism. Editor and publisher Richie Stein holding the fort while a replacement is sought.

REPLACEMENT

Since Gov. Cuomo has turned down invites to be guest speaker for the past three years, the North Manhattan Bronx Realtors Association is having his potential GOP challenger, Westchester County Exec Rob Astorino address the powerful real estate body at its 90th anniversary annual gala on Thursday, April 24 at the Marina del Rey.

QUOTE

We promised to keep this quote off-the-record from a certain well-placed elected who said it, but it was too good not to print: “Cuomo plays chess; deBlasio plays checkers.”

MEA CULPA

We must not have been looking that hard. Boro gay activist Lew Goldstein and one of the vice chairmen at the Bronx Dem Party, took issue with us over last week’s column that the local pols were trying to avoid him with his rainbow flag at the Bronx St. Patrick’s Parade. Well, they DID keep Lew on their outer flank on the march, but Lew said a couple of them posed for pix holding the flag, including Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr., who joked that Lew should send a copy to his senator dad, Ruben (The Rev) Diaz Sr., not the biggest supporter of same sex marriage, to say the least.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

April 1 – Community Board 10 District Manager Ken Kearns.

April 2 – Community Board 1 Chairman George Rodriguez.

April 3 – Retired First Grade Detective Howard (Howie the Hump) Denton, longtime anchor of Morrisania’s 42nd Precinct.

BRONX LINES

“Old Peter Minuet had nothing to lose when he bought the isle of Manhatten

For twenty-six dollars and a bottle of booze and they threw in the Bronx and Staten”

— “Give it back to the Indians” by Ella Fitzgerald

Reach Editor Bob Kappstatter at (718) 742–3395. E-mail him at bkappstatter@cnglocal.com.

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