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Monday, May 11, 2009

Bronx News Roundup May 11 -- Special Bronx Politics Edition

Lost of Bronx political news over the weekend -- none of it good.

Former State Senator Efrain Gonzalez pleaded guilty on Friday to fraud charges and will be sentenced in August. His trial was postponed several times over the last year and a half and was set to finally begin today. Gonzalez was charged with funneling state member item money through nonprofits for his own personal use. Times coverage here.

Yesterday, the Daily News's "State of Shame" series about the broken state legislature set its sites on State Senator Pedro Espada (who defeated Gonzalez in the September Democratic primary) and Assemblyman Peter Rivera. Espada has been accused of, but never convicted of, using the staff and resources of his Soundview Health Center on his political campaigns. The News says Soundview's health fairs doubled as campaign rallies where campagin staff gave away condoms, food, and even granola bars with the slogan, "Vote for Pedro Espada." The News also reports that Espada has run up $13,000 in fines for not filing 6 campaign finance disclosure reports. For more -- and there is more -- read the whole story.

As for Peter Rivera (no relation to Jose or Joel Rivera), who mainly keeps a low profile and whose name rarely pops up in these kinds of reports, the News reports that he allocated a nonprofit group -- NETS -- with $1.3 million. According to the News, the group employed his son and campaign treasurer, and NETS workers have carried petitions for Rivera. Meanwhile, NETS "appears to have done little with the money, spending $430,000 in state funds for a community center that has yet to open after seven years."

In a sidebar to the story not available on-line, the News says that, according to its sources, an investigation into the relationship Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and his father, State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. had with a south Bronx nonprofit several years ago, is still continuing despite a previous report to the contrary.

The Times reports today on the family members Larry Seabrook has hired, or advocated on behalf of, for city-related jobs.

The Times also reported on the role of former Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer in helping a Nevada financial firm secure a $100,000 pension fund investment fee from the state comptroller's office.



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