Today’s news:

Bribery collars unleash political fallout

Bronx Times

Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro’s resignation after his involvement in a bribery scandal has created political fallout in both his west Bronx district and the City Council one just east of it.

For those just back from another planet, Nelson was formally charged with perjury this month after being snagged in 2008 and wearing a wire for the feds since 2009, allegedly ensnaring Morrisania Assemblyman Eric Stevenson in a bribe scheme.

Cut to the local chase: Yudelka Tapia, Nelson’s female district leader in the 86th A.D., who’s been eyeing a run for term-limited Council Majority Leader Joel Rivera’s central Bronx seat, tells us she’s now ready to go for Nelson’s now vacant seat.

And why not? She has her own 400-member political club, what she predicts will be a $35,000 campaign kitty by May, and a majority of the district’s state committee members when the Bronx Democratic Party holds its nominating convention to back a candidate for the seat.

That and the fact she is Dominican in a heavily Dominican district, and expects support from northern Manhattan’s Dominican electeds in a race that generally only pulls out 2,800 or so voters.

Yudelka still owes the city Campaign Finance Board over 100Gs in unaccounted for funds and fines from a previous race, and is awaiting a court ruling on that one.

But as one Bronx political operative put it, “If Yudelka can adjudicate that little problem with the CFB, she has a strong shot at it.”

To which a Bronx elected added: “She could raise 10Gs and send out two mailers and call it a day in a special election there.”

And that’s even if Gov. Cuomo waits to fold the special election into either the September primary or November general election.

The cash-strapped city Board of Elections would love to save its $350,000 cost by piggybacking it. The downside, of course, is the district will be leaderless for five to eight months.

As for that crowded City Council race, if Yudelka does pull out, it could leave two of the leading candidates going head to head – Richie Torres, who’s backed by Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and Joel’s longtime chief of staff Albert Alvarez.

The 15th Council District covers Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, Van Nest and West Farms.

Whoever brings the most campaign bux and union backing to the table is most likely to get Dem Party backing, just about guaranteeing a win, which at the moment would seem to be the 24-year-old Torres.

COP CORNER

We know we’re entering a lion’s den with this one involving Amadou Diallo, but here goes:

With that lawsuit in federal court accusing the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk (whatever happened to the “Question” part?) being more of a numbers-driven game targeting minorities, we had an interesting conversation with a high-ranking boss.

They suggested that besides fine tuning Stop-(Question)-and-Frisk, AND re-emphasizing the department motto of “Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect,” you might actually get a ton of guns off Bronx and other streets by beefing up the department’s narcotics and warrants units.

They also bit a political bullet, cautiously suggesting it might finally also be time to bring back the citywide Street Crime Unit.

Yes, THAT unit, the one that was disbanded after the tragic chain of circumstances that night on Wheeler Avenue 14 years ago that left Amadou Diallo dead and a city outraged.

When it was working – and before it was expanded too rapidly with less training for its cops – the SCU worked, and worked well. As lotsa cops have told us, “those guys could smell a gun.”

Okay, start beating us up....

SNOOKIE SIGHTING

Recently defeated Morris Park Assemblywoman Naomi (Snookie) Rivera spotted at the NYS Assembly/Senate Puerto Rican & Hispanic Task Force recent SOMOS (We Are) winter conference in Albany.

She was being escorted by boytoy - and Brooklyn council seat wannabe – Tommy (Tommy Tune) Torres, a supposed former part-time staffer with Snookie while teaching in Brooklyn.

Wonder what ever happened to those supposed investigations....

MANGIA

Mayor Bloomberg recently spotted dining with two friends at Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue, a favorite with top chefs when THEY’RE off-duty, including Mario Batali. Owner Joe Migliucci said he baked some of his famous pizza for starters at Hizzoner’s table, with Mayuh Mike enjoying pasta with marina sauce and pignolia nuts.

LIBRARY CUBS

River and Dale? Is that the best NY Public Library Prexy Tony Marx could pick out of 15 finalists’ submissions for the two new lion statues standing guard outside the Riverdale branch library?

The branch pulled in 300 entries, some from as far away as England and Australia, to name the stone lions who stood guard since 1998 outside Loew’s Regency Hotel until recent renovations. The lions’ library elders, Patience and Fortitude, still stand watch outside Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue main branch.

PASSINGS

Condolences to family of Jerry Lange, vice president of security at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and former Patrolmens Benevolent Association Bronx trustee, with roots at the 47 Precinct. A gentleman and a good guy. RIP.

GAMERS

No doubt between serious business in the state Assembly, we are happy to report that Bronx Dem Party Boss and Assemblyman Carl Heastie reports on his Facebook page that he’s “completed Level 21 in Candy Crush Saga.”

Our tax dollars at work, no doubt....

Then again, former east Bronx Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano reports on HER Facebook page that she’s a gamer too.

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