By Robert Press
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 12- How can I pick two challengers over one of the most powerful political father-daughter families Jose Rivera 78th A.D./Naomi Rivera 80th A.D. in the Bronx you may ask, and I will now explain. With the trials and convictions of corrupt Bronx elected officials over the past few years, and continuing still one has to wonder if all the rascals (as I will call them) have gone to jail. Jose Rivera has been investigated by the “FEDS” before I was told by his campaign manager, but just what was he investigated for, I was not told.
Pedro Espada is now on trial for tax evasion (which I said would be his downfall), and one has to wonder if a Rivera will be charged with tax evasion for the alleged lavish life style reportedly lived by the New York Post. Another question is of residency for Jose Rivera that has come up when the Post wrote that one of his sons is now living in the home of his mother and father Assemblyman Jose Rivera in Elmont Long Island.
At the press conference for the The Kingsbridge National Ice Center proposal for the Kingsbridge Armory, Jose Rivera tried to clam the credit for fixing the armory roof and inside. In a recent mailing Jose Rivera claims he made sure that the community benefited from the New Yankee Stadium. First that area is not in his assembly district, all one has to do is see the more than half empty garages built, and ask residents of that community not an outside politician. Rivera also claims credit for more jobs for the community from the Bronx Terminal Market project, which is now known as the Gateway Mall. Shortly after Jose Rivera was deposed as Bronx Democratic County Leader newly elected Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. demanded a full accounting of hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Community Benefits agreement for the Gateway Mall that was reported by the Daily News as being misused.
This one has to be the proof that it is time for Jose Rivera to retire, as he also claims he “brought the community together to win millions of dollars in new jobs and new recreation space as part of the water filtration plant agreement”. By his own words Assemblyman Jose Rivera is then responsible for the more than $2,000,000,000 (two billion dollars) in cost overruns at the Croton Water Filtration Plant that is still being built in Van Cortlandt Park, as he was the Bronx Democratic leader who helped close the deal with the Bronx delegation in Albany with Mayor Bloomberg. By the way one should then ask Assemblyman Rivera where the missing millions of dollars in the $240 million dollar mitigation money went that was to go to Bronx parks so Bronx elected officials would vote to build the water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park? We can go on and on, but will just say if re-elected those people who voted for Rivera deserve him. I endorse Richardo “Ricky Martinez in the 78th A.D.
As for the 80th A.D. what more can we say about the current assemblywoman that the New York Post has not said. As a parent leader I took a group of parents to see her in Albany (on Lobby Day) during her first year in office. Her office was right next to her father's 78th A.D. Assemblyman Jose Rivera who also at the time still was the Bronx Democratic County Leader. As soon as Jose heard some noise coming from next room he rushed in to escort the group into his office, and we did not see any more of his daughter, much like most people in her district. In her first race in 2004 there was a third person in the race to draw votes away from her opponent which happened and thus Naomi Rivera became the 80th A.D. Assemblywoman with less than half of the vote however. In a repeat in 2006 with out a third candidate Naomi got 3,557 votes to 1,793. There was no primary in 2008, and in her last election in 2010 against a novice token candidate with little money and no backing Naomi got only 2,699 votes to 1,166 with 14 write ins.
Against a well-funded and well-known individual such as Mark Gjonaj we are sure Naomi Rivera will have a very hard time, wind up loosing, and even if she does pull a victory out I don't see her finishing her term in office. Naomi's father once again has to come to her rescue, and I don't see the county organization having, let alone giving her, much support. It seems that the county organization may have to be involved in the 77th A.D. in more than one race, the 87th A.D. to insure this time a Sepulveda victory, and in the 33rd State Senate district. Not that those other candidates are going to loose, but they must win big enough so in two years they do not have a primary challenge. Another factor in the 80th A.D. race is the race for Female State Committeewoman where incumbent Diane Cerino has joined forces with Naomi's challenger Mark Gjonaj. There is no primary for the incumbent Male state committeeman or Male District Leader. The Liberty Democratic Association political club in the 80th A.D. is split as members like State Committeewoman Cerino and are supporting Mark Gjonaj, others staying neutral, with some supporting Cerino's opponent for that position and Naomi Rivera. The two other candidates in the 80th A.D. race were left on the ballot and it seems that may have been done to take anti Rivera votes away from Mark Gjonaj. However with all the lousy publicity about the alleged wrong doings of Assemblywoman Rivera the two other Hispanic candidates are now expected to take more votes away from Rivera. I endorse Mark Gjonaj for Assembly, and Diane Cerino for State Committeewoman in the 80th A.D. Don't forget today Thursday September13 is Primary Election day. Please go and vote.
Bronxtalk host Gary Axelbank issued the following statement at the beginning of the 80th A.D. debate on his long running show with the incumbent Naomi Rivera refusing to appear again as she did in 2010. “Unfortunately, although we had worked very hard to coordinate the schedule for this debate with the incumbent, Naomi Rivera has flat declined our invitation to appear. Editorially, I will say that asking people for their vote and then not be willing to participate in a debate with other candidates is a posture that we reject wholeheartedly. The Bronx is made stronger by responsive elected officials who respect the democratic process, their opponents, and most importantly, their constituents. By refusing to appear tonight Assemblywoman Rivera is directly insulting everyone involved, BronxTalk, Bronxnet, her fellow candidates, and you the people of the Bronx. In fact, it’s the second time she has declined to participate. Viewers will remember she didn’t appear in 2010 either. Given this program’s ongoing commitment to keeping Bronxites informed and engaged, we abhor the very notion of it. And so she will be represented by an empty chair throughout tonight’s proceedings”.
Other events such as the Bronx County Democratic Barbecue which occurred last Saturday, Sunday's Renaissance Fair on Fordham Road, Monday night's 80th A.D. debate on Bronxtalk, and other events I did not have room for can be found on my blog at www.100percentbronx.blogspot.com along with many photos of the events, especially the Bronx County Democratic Barbecue.
If you have any comments about this column or my blog, or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can w-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-644-4199.