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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bronx News Roundup, Dec. 3, Part I

Welcome to Wednesday's roundup. Since we haven't done one of these since last week, this will be more like a week's roundup and I'll try to touch on all of the big stories floating around right now. There's a lot to get to, so I'm going to break this up into two parts. First, let's talk politics.

Adolfo to Replace Hillary?
With Senator Hillary Clinton taking the Secretary of State job in the Obama administration, pundits and politicos around the country are talking about her successor. One name that keeps coming up: Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who has been getting decidely mixed reviews on this blog ever since it was first brought up.

Here's MSNBC's take, the LA Times, Congressional Quarterly offers up its short list, CNN weighs in.

The ultimate call is up to Governor David Paterson, who had his eyes on the seat until his former boss, Eliot Spitzer resigned under a cloud of scandal. Paterson says he'll wait to make a decision, probably until January. If Paterson goes with a Hispanic candidate, the general consensus is that he'll choose either Carrion or Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, who's represented the Lower East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens since 1992.

The Future of the Bronx Dems
Daily News Bronx Bureau Chief Bob Kappstatter's Monday column talks about the fallout from Carl Heastie and the Rainbow Rebels court victory last week, which gave them control of the Bronx County party. He writes that former party boss Jose Rivera's supporters -- including Council members Oliver Koppell (11th Council District) and Maria Baez (14th and the party's number 2), and Assembly members Naomi Rivera (80th Assembly District and Jose's daughter) and Nelson Castro (86th) -- could feel a backlash in upcoming elections.

The Death of Ramon Velez
Controversial South Bronx leader Ramon Velez, the borough's political "godfather," died on Sunday after a years long battle with Alzheimers disease.

During some of the Bronx's worst times, in the 1960s and 1970s, Velez built the Hunt's Point Multi-Service Center into a hub for social services with millions of dollars in government contracts as well as one of the borough's most powerful political organization. (Former Bronx Borough Prez Fernando Ferrer and Congressman Jose Serrano both came out of his camp. Serrano sent out a fawning press release following Velez's death.).

He also turned the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade into one of the biggest ethnic showcases in the country and championed Puerto Rican causes at the highest levels.

Velez was also investigated dozens of times for corruption, but was never convicted of anything.

Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez brilliantly puts Velez's life and contributions into perspective. If you read nothing else about Velez, read this. Great personal story from Gonzalez at the end.

Here's the Times' obituary of Velez.

Look for Part II later this afternoon.


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