We were expecting the usual boring, sweatbath Bronx Democratic Party dinner again this year, with the inflated hyperbole from the podium and pressing-the-flesh schmoozing on the floor.
Well, yeah, it was all of that.
But wow, what a welcoming party for guests arriving July 17 at the Marina del Rey – a hundred or so shouting, sign-waving demonstrators, angry over “the corrupt Bronx political machine”, unemployment, and whatever else they could think of.
Caught unawares, cops had to scramble with reinforcements and barricades, but not before at least one fender bender when one sign-waving demonstrator jumped in front of one car heading for the party, forcing the driver to swerve and clip another car.
The last time we can recall any real excitement was around a dozen years ago when Al (Tawana) Sharpton and Bronx D.A. Rob Johnson literally got in each others faces in a shouting match over the Amadou Diallo case. Party Boss Roberto Ramirez had to drag both of them off into the Marina del Rey kitchen to cool them off.
Otherwise, this year’s dinner lived up to its usual reputation, with the packed room no match for the struggling air conditioning, and the rah-rah speeches and awards presentations pretty much stifled by the general chatter in the room.
But then again as we always say, dropping $300 for a seat at the party dinner is all about mending fences, making contracts, and of course, kissing a party leader’s ring.
Some snippets from the evening’s fun:
• PHOTO OP – Ex-Boro Prez, ex-Dem, and Independence Party mayoral wannabe Adolfo Carrion turned the demonstration into a photo-op, joining protesters behind the barricade just long enough for a staffer to take a photo, and leaving them annoyed. One of their big gripes was Community Benefits Agreements that DON’T benefit them, i.e. the New Yankee Stadium CBA fostered by A.C.
• NO JUSTICE! – Party consigliere Stanley Schlein outside taking in the scene and getting his own shoutout from the demonstrators – ”Stanley’s Gotta Go! Stanley’s Gotta Go!” Stanley’s thoughtful reply: “No Justice, No Pizza!”
• KOSHER – Parkchester/Castle Hill Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda at the Kosher buffet. “My maternal grandmother was Jewish,” shrugged a grinning Luis. Though with his large Bangladeshi voting base, we’d figure him for being … wait for it … a halal of a guy (ouch!).
•FACES – Of the mayoral wannabe’s, only Bill Thompson made it to the dinner – and got podium speech time, especially since the party and Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. are supporting him. Also in the room, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
• FIGHTING WEIGHT – A slimmed down 77th Assembly District Leader Benny Catala working the podium, having gone from 536 pound (really!) to 289 – and still going.
Oh those Arroyos, mom and daughter!
Seems Assemblywoman Carmen (Granny) Arroyo claims on her filings the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics that she won $28,000 at the slot machine in Saratoga, though she doesn’t seem to have any receipt to back it up.
Meanwhile, City Council daughter Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s nominating petitions have some pretty interesting signatures, like Derek Jeter and supermodel Kate Moss. Challenger Julio Pabon plans to take the issue not just to the Board of Elections, but to the courts for fraud.
And all credit due to Denis Slattery of the News for breaking ink with it. Must have inherited his digging talents from his detective dad Jim, retired out of Bronx Homicide.
We’re still waiting as of Wednesday deadline for David Keisman, who we ran into at the County dinner and who’s involved in handling Adolfo’s campaign, to respond to a recent column calling the SS Carrion campaign a sinking ship. David works at Roberto Ramirez’ MIRAM consulting group.
It’s never too early to start fundraising, we guess.
Morris Park Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, who managed to topple longtime Assemblywoman Naomi “Snooky” Rivera, is tossing his fundraiser to refill his coffers Thursday, Aug. 1 at the Light House Restaurant on City Island Ave.
• Up and over. Congrats to 45th Precinct detective squad boss Lt. Jim Hanvey, moving up and over to Bronx detective command as operations coordinator for all borough detective squads, after three years solving crimes in the east Bronx. A gentleman.
• Up and out. Former Bronx C.O. Anthony “Tony” Izzo, who’s been running the department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, retiring with a walkout at One Police Plaza on Thursday, July 25.
To family of Kenneth Giordano, who died July 18 at age 70. Owner of the famed Willie’s Steakhouse on Westchester Avenue, he made it THE place in the Bronx for Latin Jazz, with Willie Colon, Dave Valentin, Johnny Pacheco, Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente heating up the joint.
July 26 – Film director, writer Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) – 2001, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining.