Tag Archive | "Ruben Diaz"

Before, During and After: Bronxites React to Hurricane Sandy

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Where to eat in the Bronx, Gothamist

From November 1 to 13, the Bronx will host its first ever Restaurant Week, reports Gothamist.  Savor the Bronx promotes many of the borough's best restaurants on Arthur Avenue and elsewhere and highlights the various types of cuisines.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, "The Bronx is your oyster!"          

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Don’t vote for me

Dan Padernacht, a former candidate for the 33rd Senate district, sits in his Bronx office.

Dan Padernacht, a former candidate for the 33rd Senate district, sits in his Bronx office.

Dan Padernacht stood next to the turnstiles of the Mosholu Parkway subway station yesterday, greeting early-morning commuters with political fliers and a grin that masked any disenchantment over his washed-up campaign for state senator. The 34-year-old Bronx real estate lawyer was in the unusual position of convincing voters to cast their ballots for his former political rival, Gustavo Rivera. Padernacht teamed up with Rivera when he realized he couldn’t win, in an effort to take down the incumbent in the Democratic primary race for the 33rd Senate district, Pedro Espada, Jr. So there he was at 7:20 a.m., the day before the primary, dressed in an unassuming dark brown suit, standing alongside Rivera and Councilman Oliver Koppell, trying to be the least popular political figure amongst voters. Two days before he officially withdrew from the race on Sept. 5, the New York Times endorsed Rivera, calling Padernacht a distraction and questioning his understanding of state issues. “What I wanted to do from the very beginning was just kind of tell people, ‘These are the candidates. Come out and vote,’” said Padernacht, who admits to now having a jaded view of journalism. “I tried doing that as long as possible. Then it came to a point where a lot of papers only wrote about me being a spoiler and that was it.” Padernacht had also suffered another setback a day prior to the Rivera endorsement. A 1,300-plus word New York Times article entitled, “Critics Root for Espada’s Exit, but He’s Dug In,” reported in passing that Padernacht had done pro bono legal work for State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., an Espada supporter. “The truth is I’ve never done pro bono work for Senator Díaz himself. The truth is I was part of a pro bono program, which was set up by the New York state attorney who was assigned to Rubén Díaz,” Padernacht said of his work in the summer of 2008 with lawyer Luis Sepulveda, who is a current candidate for the 76th district state assembly seat. “Basically, at that point, they were trying to say, ‘Well, you were doing free legal work for Senator Díaz,’ which wasn’t true. I was doing legal work for poor people who couldn’t afford an attorney.” Padernacht thought his portrayal in the media would confuse voters. He predicted he could take second place in the race, but that Espada would still win. Estimating that he held about 3,500 votes that could go toward defeating the state senator, Padernacht did what he thought was best for the community where he was born and raised. He tried to serve the greater good. Rivera was grateful, at least. “It shows the kind of community activist that Dan is,” Rivera said of his withdrawal. “We feel that there hasn’t been true representation here, because we have somebody who does not respect the people here. The best way is to get rid of Espada, and the best way to do that is together.” By 8 a.m. Padernacht had parted ways with Rivera and company and headed back to his law office. He strolled past P.S. 95, his own elementary school on Sedgwick Avenue, where he attended before J.H.S. 143 and Fordham Preparatory High School. About a quarter mile further he walked into a group of buildings by Giles Place historically known as the Sholem Aleichem Houses, where he grew up, lives and works. His office is in the ground floor of a five-story brick walk-up, and the walls are covered in memories: diplomas from Fairfield University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, and John Marshall Law School in Chicago where he earned his law degree. Encased in glass above his desktop computer rests the orange T-shirt he wore for the 2009 ING New York City marathon. Padernacht ran as a member of Fred’s Team, a program that supports the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Written in pen along the front are the words, “In Memory of Howard Padernacht,” his father who first came to the housing complex in 1949 and died of throat cancer almost a year and a half ago. His mother Pamela, who still lives in the same complex, is a second grade teacher at Our Lady of Angels; and his two brothers, Steven and Michael, work out of their shared office. “When they talked about how Gustavo’s the favorite and everything, they hadn’t walked through this neighborhood,” said Padernacht’s younger brother, Steven, who described his act to back out of the race as noble. “This is our area.” “I had a core of people here in these buildings. It’s people I’ve known for a very long time,” said Padernacht, who also serves on his local community board. “For me, I’m just disappointed.” He had to pull down his large vinyl banner for candidacy that was hung on the corner of Sedgwick and West 238th Street. He’s taken down signs, recorded robocalls, and updated his Facebook to show he’s now backing Rivera. Aside from personal appearances, the only other way to spread the word is through the very institution on which he remains skeptical: the media. “What I’ve learned over the last few months, right or wrong, the media has huge influence on elections,” Padernacht said. Today, Padernacht plans to vote up the street at Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation Center. He’ll see his name on the ballot, and he’ll have to place a vote for someone else. As for the rest of his supporters, he’s unsure where they’ll fall. “Now what they’re going to do, I don’t know,” Padernacht wondered. “Will they stay home? Will they go vote? Will they vote for Gustavo? I don’t know.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Northwest Bronx, PoliticsComments (2)

A Challenger Emerges for Bronx Senate Seat

Carlos Ramos is a candidate who says he knows firsthand the challenges of living in the poorest areas of the Bronx. Ramos, who is challenging New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., in the 32nd District in September’s Democratic primary, said he grew up in a single-parent home in Soundview with little guidance, mingled with friends from similarly low-income backgrounds and fell into trouble with the law.
Carlos Ramos (Photo courtesy of Carlos Ramos)

Carlos Ramos (Photo courtesy of Carlos Ramos)

“My journey was not an easy one,” said Ramos, 40, during a telephone interview Friday. As a teenager, he was sentenced to a short time in prison for a drug-related offense. “Eventually I did some soul-searching and I realized there was more to life,” he said. Since that realization, Ramos said he has been dedicated to helping others in his community through his involvement in public service initiatives and grassroots organizations. He first became involved with a local Hispanic Democrats club in Westchester in 1998 and has since worked for national campaigns in Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania before  returning to the Bronx to work for  William C. Thompson Jr., the former New York City comptroller. It was during the 2009 Thompson campaign for mayor that Ramos said he found the inspiration to step forward as a candidate for the Senate. “There was a guy there helping us every day,” Ramos said. “I was sharing my idea with him that I was thinking about running, and he told me ‘If you run against Ruben Diaz, I promise to give you my last $20.’ ” Ramos said the volunteer was HIV-positive, living in a homeless shelter, surviving off government benefits and hurting because of a lack of political leadership. “The only way you’re going to get some leadership in there is to run,” he said. Ramos thinks there is currently a lack of political leadership in the Bronx because elected officials have been pushed into office without obtaining the proper skills to lead. He attributes this to weaknesses in the current education system in public schools — one of the top priorities that he proposes to tackle if elected to the state Senate. “We need to be prepared for all these new people that are moving in and have the proper school system for them,” he said. “And we need to better prepare the next generation of Bronx leaders.” Job creation and affordable housing are the other big issues for Ramos. Too many residential buildings, he said, are owned by conglomerates who are dealing with the fallout of the recession. “What happens is their problems trickle down to the tenants,” he said. “Sometimes their services are not being met, their apartments are not being painted, or there’s no repairs being done. Many times the tenants don’t even know how to address these problems.” Ramos says there is a “stark contrast” between himself and Diaz, both in their political ideologies and in their campaign methods. Social media plays an important part in getting his messages across and he thinks that the use of digital technology gives him an edge in fundraising. Diaz could not be reached for comment on the coming election. Ramos said he received about 4,000 messages, mostly supportive, on the day his campaign went live, and that he has attracted campaign donations from across the United States. “When we run the campaign, we’re going to have the latest technology to be able to micro-target voters,” Ramos said. “Diaz doesn’t have that advantage. They run campaigns the old-fashioned way.” In an age where indiscretions by public figures are also amplified by social media and the Internet, Ramos believes that the mistakes of his past will not become an issue. “Many people in my community can identify with some of my challenges, so I’m not even worried about it,” he said. “When I talk to people, I’m very frank about it. It’s not something that I’m hiding. They’re actually glad that I’m doing what I’m doing.”

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Thompson Concedes, After a Last-Minute Surge of Hope

By Connor Boals and Maia Efrem

Comptroller William Thompson, Jr. announces his defeat to his supporters at the New York Hilton Hotel and Towers Tuesday evening. Photo by Connor Boals

Comptroller William Thompson Jr. announces his defeat to his supporters at the New York Hilton Hotel and Towers Tuesday evening. Photo by Connor Boals

As the early polling results came in, the supporters of Democratic mayoral candidate William Thompson Jr., believed they were going to witness the upset of the most expensive campaign in New York City’s history. They almost did. At 9:30 p.m., the air was electric. Hundreds of supporters were gathered inside the third floor Trianon lounge of the New York Hilton Hotel and Towers in midtown Manhattan. At 9:51 p.m., with nine percent reporting, Thompson was only one percent behind his opponent Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It was still anyone’s race. Strangers hugged, fists were raised and even a few tears were shed. “I believe we have victory,” said the Rev. J.T. Causer from Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Thompson supporters celebrate early poll results that put Mayor Bloomberg only one percent ahead of Thompson. Photo by Connor Boals

Thompson supporters celebrate early poll results that put Mayor Bloomberg only one percent ahead. Photo by Connor Boals

Others, like Sybyl Silverstein, an education consultant from Floral Park, Queens, maintained a “cautious compassion” as the pundits had almost unanimously predicted Bloomberg in a landslide. Assemblyman Keith Wright of Harlem acted as master of ceremonies for the evening. He and a string of labor leaders and borough politicians delivered rousing chants of “eight is enough!” and “We can’t be bought!” at an ear-blasting volume. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. dominated the stage and announced the Bronx votes had gone to Thompson. "In the city of New York, while there was a billionaire who wanted to buy the election, there were thousands of people who would not sell out," said Diaz,  as he pumped a fist in the air. As the results trickled in, Bloomberg crept ahead, but only by four percent with 17 percent reporting. Gov. David Paterson waited by the stage for almost half an hour as other politicians gave short inspirational speeches to the crowd. The tiny stage was swelling with a who’s who of the city’s Democratic leaders. After a short stump speech from the Rev. Al Sharpton, he took the stage with a tone of seriousness. "I would like to thank Thompson for keeping the dream alive for those who are told 'no' but believe 'yes,' " he told the cheering crowd. With praise came reproach as well. "Too many Democrats stayed home today,” he said. “And too many Democrats who should have stayed home were tantalized away."
Thompson supporters watch the poll results being reported. Bloomberg's one percent gap eventually expanded and Thompson conceded the race at 11:40 p.m. Photo by Connor Boals

Thompson supporters watch the poll results being reported. Bloomberg's one percent gap eventually expanded and Thompson conceded the race at 11:40 p.m. Photo by Connor Boals

At 11:40 p.m., Thompson, his wife and his daughter approached the podium. He was met with vigorous applause. “A few minutes ago, I called Mayor Bloomberg to congratulate him on his victory,” he said. A wave of boos swept forward, overwhelming Thompson, who calmly asked for order. “Tonight the votes are not in our favor,” he said. “But we still have so much to be proud of. This campaign was about standing strong.” Monica Hankins, an office manager from Story Avenue in the Bronx said she felt Bloomberg's term limit was one of the key issues in the election. At the end of the four years, she wanted the question of reversing the three-term limit to be put to the voters. "I feel like Bloomberg disrespected us," she said. "It feels like a dictatorship now." Another Bronx resident from Pelham Parkway, Aisha Ahmed, said she was "disgusted" by the results. "We live in a rich country where a mayor just spent $100 million on a campaign but people still sleep outside of churches,"  said Ahmed, the president of a medical consulting company. Although the mayor’s seat didn’t go to the Democrats, spirits were high over the election of Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “The Democratic Party had some tremendous gains tonight, the people rejected the politics of Mayor Bloomberg,” said Fernando Ferrer, former Bronx borough president and 2005 mayoral candidate. “I think he’s going to have a rough four years.”

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