Friday, January 25, 2013

Ben Franklin Dem Club Endorses Diaz & Cohen


Riverdale Report

By Robert Press

BRONX, NEW YORK, January 25- The headline refers to the meeting of the Ben Franklin Democratic club that was held last Wednesday to see if the club wanted to endorse candidates in the race for Bronx Borough President and in the local 11th City Council race. The question to the membership was do you want to vote to endorse in the Bronx Borough President's race, and do you want to endorse in the 11th City Council district? The answer to both questions was an overwhelming YES, despite a question by one member if it was to early to endorse.

The one and only announced candidate current Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. spoke to the club saying how he thanked the club for its endorsement and help the first time around in 2009, and would hope that it be the same this year. He thanked the members of the club for their support.

Next were the candidates for the 11th City Council seat. Andrew Cohen was first up, and he stressed that he was a man of integrity and someone who is honest. He went through his community and professional experience, and some of his views on current issues. Cohen said that that public school system is drowning in standardized testing, the mayor should negotiate with the teachers on true teacher evaluations, and that there needs to be much better parent involvement in the school system.

Shelly Keeling who recently announced her candidacy two weeks ago was next up. Ms. Keeling said that she has lived in the area for over 25 years and has been a businesswoman for 34 years. She said that she is a substitute teacher.

Third and last was Cliff Stanton. Mr. Stanton opened up with “Now I know how Jonah must have felt in the belly of the whale”. Stanton went from bad to worse by cracking a joke that he had Assemblyman Dinowitz's back after being called the dictator of the club by one member. Stanton gave a brief bio of himself, and said “I get things done”. On a question about censorship of a local Riverdale newspaper, Stanton said that the paper was constantly attacking PS 24. Whether it was a joke or not Stanton went on to say “If the government was coming after Andy Wolf (the publisher of the paper), I would come to his aid”.

When the vote was counted BP Diaz got all but 2 votes where no endorsement was marked. In the 11th Council race, of the three candidates Andrew Cohen received 84 of the 99 votes. Second place went to no endorsement with 6 votes, third was Ms. Shelly Keeling with 5 votes, Cliff Stanton received 3 votes, and there was one write in vote for Bob Press the writer of this column. Just for the record I am not a member of the Ben Franklin Club, and was therefore not able to vote. Check my blog at archive section on the left “Ben Franklin Club Endorsements” for more details & photos of the candidates and vote count.

Community Board #8's Economic Development Committee met on Monday January 14th, and on the agenda were street activity permit applications (SAPO) for three events co-sponsored by KRVDC (the Kingsbride Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corporation). Ms. Tracy Shelton the Executive Director of KRVDC was on hand to answer questions, but when committee members asked to see the applications there were none. Committee Chair Sergio Villaverde said that he asked the District Manager of the board to e-mail them out. It also appeared that when asked if he knew the SAPO rules, Mr. Villaverde thumbed through a loose leaf looking for an answer that did not come. It was later announced that this was only an informational meeting on the applications, and the vote on them would be next month. The following night two different SAPO applications were heard, seen, and approved by the Traffic and Transportation committee chaired by Dan Padernacht. Also on the T&T agenda were two sidewalk cafe applications that were both approved. Separate discussions on the Cannon Place retaining wall replacement presentation by the DDC, and truck route to the West 238th Street/Broadway mall Riverdale Crossings were also part of the meeting.

If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at or you can call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.

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