Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bob Kappstatter

Boro Beat: Stick around for Dems' battle royal after primary

Tuesday, July 8th 2008, 8:00 AM

The battle for control of the Bronx Democratic Party - if there is one by then - won't be decided in a smoke-filled back room.

It'll be in a smoke-free school auditorium, with several hundred party members from opposing factions voting at the party convention shortly after the Sept. 9 primary.

That's when loyalist and rebel assembly members will haul their winning slates of district leaders and as many of the numerous county committee members from the borough's 1,000 election districts as they can to vote on officers for the County Committee, chaired by Carl Heastie, one of five rebel assembly members.

The new or reelected committee members and 24 assembly district leaders will then vote on whether Party Boss Jose Rivera survives as chairman (his official title) of the "inner circle" executive committee.

"You can expect people to show up by the busload," said one insider, for what could be a party brawl.

Choosing a party boss has been a relatively tame affair over the past two decades, though not without some behind-the-scenes maneuvering, such as Bronx BP Freddy Ferrer engineering the choice of Roberto Ramirez in 1994, and the deal by Ramirez to back Jose's son Joel for City Council if Jose backed away from running for borough president to become county leader instead in 2002.

Rivera's inner circle seems confident the wily "Columbo of politics" will survive, with one telling us: "We have the numbers."

Jose's stones

And speaking of Rivera, the painful kidney stone(s) that recently landed him in the hospital brought a letter from Gov. Paterson, telling him, "The residents of the Bronx and the greater State of New York need you back on your feet."

Which Jose was last week, back doing the people's and the party's business.

Klein's birthday bash

It'll be a 48th birthday bash fund-raiser tomorrow at Maestro's for Senate Deputy Minority Leader Jeff Klein, with the host committee of heavyweight names charging $500 minimum for tix to help tip Senate control to Democrats - and elevate Klein to deputy MAJORITY leader under Queens Sen. Malcolm Smith.

Iris off to prison

Iris Baez, the former longtime power behind the Riverbay Board that runs Co-op City, surrendered July 1 to begin serving a six-month prison term at the federal jail in Danbury, Conn.

Baez, 60, was convicted in a contract kickback scheme at the sprawling Mitchell-Lama complex.

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