Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BRONX POLITICAL SCENE IS TURNING INTO BIG-TIME NEWS

Bob Kappstatter

Tuesday, November 11th 2008, 2:37 PM

Well, our guayabera shirt stayed in the closet and not on our back in San Juan this weekend.

The boss said sending Liz Benjamin, this newspaper's energetic and talented political columnist and blogger, would be sufficient to cover Somos El Futuro, the annual winter conference of New York's Hispanic legislators.

I fear Liz and I are at cross-purposes in this Brave New Media World of slapping news right onto the Web site vs. saving it for Kappy's Tuesday gossip column.

Unfortunately, the Bronx political scene has become hot news citywide, and just won't wait for the column.

Herewith, the big Bronx stories - with some exclusive updates:

  • Bronx state Senators Ruben (The Rev.) Diaz Sr. and Pedro (The Wascally Wabbit) Espada joining a rogue devil cult in the Senate with Hiram Monserrate of Queens and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn, trying to spoil Democrats' winning edge and elevating Malcolm Smith of Queens from minority to majority leader.

    Monserrate, who we hear got a rather heavy duty call from Queens Democratic boss and Bronx/Queens Rep. Joe Crowley, cut out of the cult over the weekend, trading his vote in to chair the Consumer Affairs committee.

    We hear The Rev. may be the next to bail, at least remaining neutral, beyond stalling a vote for legalizing gay marriage.

    "If Malcolm doesn't find some way to woo Carl and Pedro," said an Albany source, "the Democrats are screwed."

    The cult is set to hold a conclave today in the Bronx.

    We wonder if Malcolm's camp is quietly wooing any votes on the GOP side, which stands to lose their plum committee chairmanships? Just asking. ...

  • The rebellion that has split the Bronx Democratic Party, with some real gutter fighting right up to that tumultuous night at the old Loew's Paradise on the Conc., each side claiming a legit leadership vote. ...

    Judge Robert Seewald, who said he'd try to have a written decision before Thanksgiving, is no doubt now reading his Bible, Sec. King Solomon, Re. baby custody case.

    Maybe he was hoping a compromise could have been reached over drinks in San Juan. Sorry, judge.

    We hear there was a proposal at one point for some kind of party power-sharing arrangement, but it went nowhere. Now Party Boss(?) Jose Rivera's side figures it has at least a 50-50 shot with the judge.

    Even if there is a compromise, a rebel insider thinks Councilwoman Maria Baez "is history."

    "I think they understand Maria's been a major source of Jose's problems. But it would be a mistake to start making lists of incumbents that ought to be dumped."

  • Then there's Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein. A savvy political player who works hard in Albany as the deputy minority leader, Jeff has been playing coy boy, insisting he supports Malcolm Smith 1,000% (so to speak) for majority leader.

    Should the political winds blow his way someday, Jeff probably wouldn't mind winding up as one of the "three men in the room" in Albany.

    Mob numbers game

    John Caggiano, owner of a produce business at the Hunts Point Market, pulled a 1-1/2- to 4-1/2-year stretch after pleading guilty to running a gambling ring prosecutors said booked about $1 million annually for the Genovese mob.

    But as a gravelly-voiced mob source tells us, don't bet on not being able to lay a bet at the market anymore. ...

    rkappstatter@nydailynews.com

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