Friends of the big banks are not friends of the newly-formed South Bronx Community Congress.
The congress, a coalition of local activists, tenants, businesspeople and church groups, just recently came together in an effort to form the equivalent of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. The congress’s inaugural conference was held Saturday, June 5, but the keynote speaker that the group had invited — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio — was disinvited at the last minute.
Why? Because of what many perceived to be a flip-flop: de Blasio, mere days before the event, indicated publicly on more than one occasion that he opposed additional taxes on Wall Street that would attempt to help resolve the budget crisis.
“At first, he said he was going to do community organizing, be all about the little guys,” said Ramon Jimenez, a main organizer of the South Bronx Community Congress. “But then we were very disappointed to see that he was against the Wall Street tax, a plan which would really punish the groups that deserve it and help the economy at large.”
Jimenez went on to explain that with all the various budget cutbacks that the south Bronx is facing in regards to its senior centers, firehouses, libraries, and education budget, the Congress wanted to show that, in his words, “With enough money and help, we can avoid these cutbacks. We think the best way to save these important community places is to tax the Wall Street banks.”
As it happens, de Blasio had not even responded to the invitation yet, but he didn’t get much of a chance to. Jimenez said that members of the Congress were confident he would come speak at the event because it was the kind of community activism he supports, and because they had seen him appear at similar events in the past. “We had been told by officials that it was really likely he would come because he was interested in community organizing, and because this was a major event in the south Bronx,” said Jimenez.
But days after inviting him, they called to rescind their invitation. Nevertheless, the Congress’s first event was a hit, according to members. Over 200 people, representing 40 different organizations, attended the conference.
Bill de Blasio’s office did not comment on the withdrawn invite.