Monday, October 6, 2008
Rivera, you'll be served
Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the beleaguered party leader of the Bronx Democrats — or, by a growing number of accounts, the former party leader — will soon be served with papers seeking to invalidate his half of the chaotic Sept. 28 meeting that was supposed to decide who would run the Bronx party establishment.
Mr. Rivera's former election lawyer, Stanley Schlein, filed litigation against him in state Supreme Court today on behalf of Assembly members Jeffrey Dinowitz, Carl Heastie, Aurelia Greene and the other folks who say the county's elected Democratic committee members voted them in as party officers on Sept. 28. Mr. Rivera and an ever-thinning number of Bronx pols say votes they ran were the only ones that counted, and Mr. Rivera is still the chairman.
"The order asks the judge to block their meeting from having any effect. That’s in essence what it does," Mr. Dinowitz said.
He refused to discuss the legal particulars of the filings because he is not an attorney in the case — just a plaintiff — and was careful what to tell a reporter without consulting his counsel first.
However, he did say that the case was a contingency plan in case Mr. Rivera does not cede power soon.
And even if Mr. Rivera doesn't give up, said Mr. Dinowitz, "It wouldn’t matter because he wouldn’t be able to function as the county leader."
That's because a growing number of politicians are now recognizing Mr. Heastie as the borough's party boss, including Brooklyn Democratic leader Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
A spokesman for Mr. Rivera has not yet returned calls for comment, however, the Rivera faction has maintained that Mr. Rivera is still in the top spot on account of the number of voices on Sept. 28 that shouted for him to remain in power.
Heastie supporters argue that only some of those shouting voices were eligible to vote for the party's leader, and say that Mr. Rivera's supporters did nothing at the meeting to separate the two. They also say the meeting as a whole was illegal because Councilwoman Maria Baez, the party committee's vice-chairwoman and a Rivera supporter, brought it to order. They say only Mr. Heastie was allowed to start the meeting. Of course the Rivera folks dispute that, too.
Watch for more details in Political Arena this week.
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