Today’s news:

Outside politickin’ backfires on community board vote

Bronx Times

COLUMN UPDATE: Anthony Vitaliano won the race for Community Board 11 chairman Thursday, Dec. 20 in a run-off vote with state Democratic committeeman Joe McManus.

During the Q&A, candidates were questioned on the appropriateness of politicians inserting themselves in local board races. Both Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and east Bronx City Councilman Jimmy Vacca actively supported McManus, who helped Diaz campaign for Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, who lost to Mark Gjonaj.

See website story for full details about the vote.

ARM TWISTING

We hear Boro Prez Ruben Diaz Jr. has been - um - ADVISING Community Board 11 members that he’d like to see Democratic state committeman Joe McManus elected chairman.

McManus is one of three candidates running to fill the seat opened by the recent death of longtime chair Dom Castore.

Ruben has been calling members of the Morris Park/Allerton board, telling them he’s a personal friend of McManus and he would “appreciate” them considering Joe for chairman when the board votes tonight, Thursday, Dec. 20.

The results will be too late by the time you read this in print, but we’ll update at bxtimes.com.

One board member told us they said “What a nerve!” after Diaz’ call.

“He did not ask me to support Joe, but it felt like a conflict to me.”

Two other members said they didn’t feel pressured, but “I was a little surprised at the call,” said one.

“I was not uncomfortable,” said another. “He has a right to express his opinion.”

Board member Bernadette Ferrara said she didn’t feel uncomfortable with the phone call, but did not like the bylaws requiring an open vote “so everyone knows who you voted for.”

McManus was active in having the local Liberty Democratic club support Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, although the club never really got along with her. She lost the September Democratic primary to Mark Gjonaj, despite Diaz campaigning door-to-door with her.

No one’s saying Diaz’ support for McManus is payback for Naomi, but the potential ethical conflict is that borough presidents appoint - and can decline to reappoint board members at the end of their two-year terms.

Ex-BP Adolfo Carrion said buh-bye to four Community Board 4 members when they went against the new Yankee Stadium proposal he was pushing.

McManus, as longtime chair of the board’s land use committee, has a reputation as being tough on developers. And Ruben has a strong reputation as a straight arrrow elected.

But the mere appearance of an elected official who relies on campaign contributions from developers inserting himself into a race involving a local board where developers seek approval for projects raises a potential red flag.

“The borough president is simply informing board members of his preference for chairman,” responded Diaz spokesman John DeSio. “There is no conflict in that.”

NEWTOWN IS OUR TOWN

As the nation mourns the slaughter of those 20 innocent young children in one horrific day, this may be a good time to reflect on all the young children and teens wounded and murdered on the streets of the Bronx, one-by-one.

We urge anyone with knowledge of illegal guns in their community to call 866-GUN-STOP to anonymously report it to police, a program that Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. continues to promote through his “Peace in our Streets” campaign.

And a message to Bronx DA Rob Johnson: Please, find a better way to deal with loaded gun cases. State law calls for a mandatory three years jail time on conviction. Yet Johnson, understandably overloaded with a crushing caseload, takes the expeditious way out, accepting guilty pleas to lesser charges - and less jail time.

OLIVE BRANCH?

State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. is NOT a happy camper with Jeff Klein’s Same Senate marriage between his Independent Democratic Conference and Dean Skelos’ GOP minority to make a ruling coalition baby.

He’s so mad, in fact, that he tells us he turned down a peace offering from an undisclosed caller to chair the Senate Aging Committee, where he is the current ranking Dem.

“They asked me would I want it, and I told them no. I don’t want it - not now,” said Diaz.

The Rev last held the aging chairmanship when he and the three other Amigos (sorry, Rev, we still call them the Banditos) held sway for swag in the narrowly-split Senate back in 2008-2009.

Those other three - Pedro Espada, Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Hiram Monserrate of Queens all wound up heading to or now in jail.

Of the current situation: “This is a mess,” sayeth the Rev. “We ought to be ashamed of what’s going on now. After 2008 and 2009, we all should have learned our lesson. I learned mine.”

WIKIPEDIA

From a press release announcing a borough tree lighting: “Also in attendance will be Santa Claus, a beloved folkloric figure cherished globally for his tradition of bringing gifts and candy to good boys and girls across the world on the eve of Christmas.

SSSH!!!

It only took two years from passage to implementation, but Congressman Eliot Engel was shouting from the rooftops that legislation he co-sponsored to turn down the volume on TV commercials has finally gone into effect.

Under the new Federal Communications Commission regs, commercials must now have the same average volume as the programs they accompany. The FCC said those noisy commercials have been one of the top consumer complaint for decades.

12 WEDDING BELLS

For Bronx political activist and Obama campaign coordinator Haile Rivera and Cossette Morillo, who officially became Mr. and Mrs. on 12/12/12.

BRONX BIRTHDAYS

Dec. 15 - City Councilman Oliver Koppell

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