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Monday, August 30, 2010

Espada to Bronx Boro Prez: 'Listen to Your Daddy'

Following Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s endorsement of challenger Gustavo Rivera in the 33rd District Senate race earlier today, incumbent Pedro Espada Jr. stood in front of the Kingsbridge Armory and railed against Diaz's efforts to block the creation of a shopping mall at the long-vacant former military building.   

Pointing at the Armory toward the end of a press conference to announce the support of two Spanish-language newspapers, Espada said, "this should be a place that employs over 3,000 people, but cheap politics and pandering . . . inexperience, and inexperience, resulted in it still being an empty building." (Actually, the Armory mall would have provided about 1,200 jobs, the majority of them part-time retail positions and about 1,000 trade jobs during the building of the mall.)

If you don't recall the Armory fight last summer, fall, winter, the City Council almost unanimously (45-1) killed the shopping mall project when the developer, with backing from the mayor's office, refused to include a guarantee of living wage" jobs ($10 an hour, plus benefits) at the revamped site.

Diaz, the entire Bronx Council delegation, along with members of the Northwest Bronx Comnunity and Clergy Coalition and the city's biggest retail workers union, fought for living wage jobs as part of a Community Benefits agreement with the developer, the Related Companies, but a deal couldn't be worked out.

When asked about Diaz Jr.'s endorsement of Rivera, Espada said the borough president should have followed the lead of his father, State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., who endorsed Espada last week. "Listen to your daddy on this one," Espada said.

Diaz Jr.'s spokesman, John DeSio, responded by saying the community and the Council both decided the project wasn't right for the Armory. He added that he was shocked that Espada had the "incredible audacity" to criticize the B.P. or anyone on the Armory project, saying "Pedro Espada, who has the Armory in his district, it's a complete fact that he was nowhere to be found at any point during the Armory debate. He was not around. He expressed no interest in this. We had meetings all the time."

DeSio added that Diaz Jr. has more experience as an elected official, 14 years, than Espada has in his brief and periodic stints as State Senator and Councilman. 

Espada actually struck an optimistic tone after the Council voted the project down: “Today’s City Council vote on the Armory should clearly send forth the message that the Bronx is pro-business,” Espada said in a statement on Dec. 14, the day of the Armory vote. 

The editors of New York De Dia, a relatively new (it started last year) Spanish-language daily tabloid and La Voz Hispana, a Spanish-language weekly with a heavy presence in the south Bronx and East Harlem, showed up to endorse Espada.

Twice, Juan Carlos Sanchez, of De Dia, referenced his long-standing relationship with Espada's press secretary, Franck Laboy, as his primary reason for supporting Espada. "First of all, I've known Franck Laboy for a long, long time and I know about all [Espada] has done for [Hispanic] people."

As examples of his community work, Carlos Sanchez pointed to Espada's widely criticized rent-freeze bill and for all the money he's allocated to "religious and educational projects." (At the press conference, Espada said he had provided rent relief for more than 600,000 New Yorkers through his rent-freeze legislation, but his bill hasn't gone anywhere since passing through the Senate's Housing Committee in May.)

"He's working for our community and we decided to give him a push," said Joaquin Del Rio of La Voz Hispana. He added that he knew about Espada's legal problems (the Attorney General is suing him for looting $14 million from his network of nonprofit health centers, for one), but, "He's not the only one -- many politicians have some problems, mostly the Puerto Rican ones -- but we think he's the best [to serve] this community."

Neither of the editors said they had spoken with challengers Rivera or Dan Padernacht.


  1. What Espada did on the Armory was worse than supporting the wrong decision. He didn't even try to represent his constituents.

    For him to pretend to care now if an outrageous lie! Oh, and he's flip flopping on his own record, too!!! Good decision, bad decision - depends on which way the wind is blowing.

    I dare you to ask him for a straight answer. He'll probably try to hit you!

    We can't get rid of this clown soon enough!!!

  2. Talk about one smug S.O.B.!! Didn't he walk out of a meeting at Tolentine last year when they asked him questions / support about the Armory? He didn't even have the courage to give a response one way or another then! Now he gives a damn?

    Another outsider who couldn't find his way around any part of this district without trying to hit someone. Big "L" for the Loser he is...


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