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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Boss is Back


Ramirez Still a Key Player, 
Helps Lobby for Co-op City Security


By Michael Horowitz

BRONX, NEW YORK, August 23- Former Bronx County Democratic Leader Roberto Ramirez, a lawyer and one of the city's “wheeler dealers,” remains a key player in Bronx politics through the MirRam Group, the consultants who ran State Sen. Adriano Espaillat's recent Democratic Party Primary campaign against Rep. Charles Rangel.
During his days as a political leader in the Bronx, Ramirez played a key role in the political campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer for U. S. Senator, but also played a key role in overturning the state's commuter tax for suburbanites, which provided a key funding source for the MTA.
Ramirez, working with friends and associates from his days as Bronx Assemblyman and Bronx County Leader, founded his political-consulting and lobbying group after leaving Bronx politics in 2000.
The MirRam Group, although influential in the Bronx, is not considered as politically influential as a number of other political-consulting groups in the city.
The former Bronx County Democratic Leader served as the borough's political boss from 1996 to 2000 and as an Assemblyman in the borough between 1990 and 2000. He was the first Latino to be chosen as a county leader for one of the city's boroughs.
Ramirez, who was born in Puerto Rico, remains, today, one of the city's most influential Latinos, many knowledgeable civic and political leaders agree.
The former Bronx County Democratic Leader counts Marion Scott, the major principal of Marion Scott Real Estate, Inc., as one of his many friends and acquaintances, Herbert Freedman, Co-op City's principal spokesman and a major principal of the Scott firm, said, this week, in response to e-mails.
Scott, a former top official of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, counts a number of current and former political leaders within both the Republican and Democratic parties as friends and acquaintances.
Ramirez, for his part, ran former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer's unsuccessful campaigns for Mayor in 2001and 2005.
During his tenure as Bronx County Democratic Leader, Ramirez, somewhat successfully, tried to mend fences among the party's warring factions. He hand-picked political leaders to run for legislative offices and for judgeships. The candidates he supported, owing to the organization's political clout and superior “get-out-the vote” efforts, won far moir√© election than they lost.
However, Ramirez's major foray into Co-op City politics as Bronx County Democratic Leader, proved, in 2000, to be unsuccessful.
That year, Ramirez decided to throw his weight behind Larry Seabrook's challenge to Rep. Eliot Engel's continuation as Congressman for Co-op City and surrounding areas in the northeast Bronx.
Engel defeated Seabrook, who was convicted last month on subsequent political-corruption charges, by a whopping margin in the 2000 Democratic Party Primary.
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Ramirez's firm hired to safeguard Security
By Michael Horowitz
BRONX, NEW YORK, August 23- The Riverbay board, last Wednesday night, approved the hiring of Roberto Ramirez's firm of political operatives to help safeguard Co-op City's Public Safety Department.
The MirRam Group LLC, spearheaded by former Bronx County Democratic Leader Roberto Ramirez, will be paid $7,500 per month for one year, starting in September, to lobby state legislators for passage of a bill that would safeguard the power of Public Safety officers to make arrests and function in the role of peace officers in the local community.
State Sen. Jeffrey Klein has agreed to sponsor the legislation, which would be in the form of an amendment to the New York State Criminal Procedure Law, in the State Senate. Assemblyman Michael Benedetto has agreed to sponsor the legislation in the State Assembly.
The vote in support of hiring Ramirez's firm to represent Co-op City's interests was 14-1 when the matter came up for a vote at the July 31. Riverbay board meeting. Evelyn Turner cast the only vote in opposition to hiring Ramirez's firm, which also includes Luis Miranda, a former director of the Mayor's Office of Hispanic Affairs, and Eduardo Castell, a former deputy comptroller of New York City.
The MirRam Group most recently ran State Sen. Adriano Espaillat's unsuccessful campaign against Rep. Charles Rangel in a widely publicized Democratic Party campaign in June.
Co-op City's Public Safety Department and members of the Riverbay board have been persuaded that Riverbay's security department could be in jeopardy. The fear is that the NYPD will eliminate its Special Patrolmen's Division, which currently gives Co-op City's Public Safety Department officers the right to serve in their current capacities.
Co-op City's Public Safety Department currently stands as a last line of defense against crime in the local community, so major limits in the authority for the department's officers could be a major blow to the community.
Without the NYPD's Special Patrolmen's Division, in the absence of the state legislation that has been proposed, the status of the community's Public Safety officers would be reduced to that is security guards.
“Such a development would devastate this department,” Frank Apollo, Co-op City's public safety chief reportedly stated earlier this year.  “It would devastate the community because we would no longer be able to maintain the same level of safety and security and very possibly no longer be able to continue as one of the safest communities within New York City.”



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