Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is Joel's seat a bargaining chip?

Bob Kappstatter

Updated Tuesday, April 7th 2009, 7:10 AM

The race between Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera and challenger Radame Perez could become a major issue for Bronx Democratic Party Boss Carl Heastie.

Normally, a party supports the incumbent in a primary - a sure ticket to winning in the Bronx. But with Joel's dad, ex-party boss Jose Rivera, and his loyalists still outside the party fold, organization support for Joel could become a carrot-and-stick issue.

The carrot would be Daddy Jose striking a truce with party boss Carl Heastie, while the stick would be the party backing Perez.

Radame, who works with his influential developer dad, Jose, has been busy knocking on voter doors in Joel's strongest voter base in Bronx Park South and West Farms, and targeting support - where he can - out of the five assembly district clubhouses that touch in the E. Tremont council district.

"Carl has been extending the olive branch to anyone who wants to work with him and the organization," said one party insider, adding that, so far, there have been no discussions with the Rivera camp.

It wouldn't be the first time a party hasn't supported an incumbent. Take the recent case of the Queens Democratic organization backing Hiram Monserrate against John Sabini for his state senate seat.

Given the Rivera camp's intransigence, Perez could be a worthwhile party candidate. A Perez win would give Heastie a stronger hand in the borough's City Council delegation.

In the solid Heastie council camp: Jimmy Vacca, Annabel Palma, Helen Foster and Ollie Koppell.

On the Jose Rivera side: son Joel and delegation leader Maria Baez.

On the fence: Larry (The Fox) Seabrook and Maria (Will Change Last Name for Votes) del Carmen Arroyo.

Le Refuge Inn out

Say au revoir to a Bronx icon.

Le Refuge Inn on City Island has gone out of business.

The Zagat and Michelin-rated French restaurant and bed and breakfast is an apparent victim of city red tape, as well as the sagging economy.

Owner Pierre Saint-Denis is vacationing back in his native France, but the manager of his upper East Side restaurant, Le Refuge, said the island inn "is closed for good."

Pierre's problems with the city bureaucracy began in 2006, when someone anonymously blew the whistle that the inn, amid local seafood restaurants on City Island Ave., was in violation of local zoning regs.

He wound up being fined $800. After a recent followup visit from inspectors, the Buildings Department slapped him with a $12,000 fine, which apparently sunk the soufflé. Pierre surrendered his liquor license last month and, as of last week, the phone was disconnected.

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