by Ernie Koy, Jr If you grow up in the Bronx, you grow up cynical, or you’re hiding up in Riverdale; either way, you weren’t— you aren’t— me. How to explain then the staggeringly stupid and vomitous appointment of outgoing Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión to head something called the White House Office of Urban Policy? If anything should hit the Barack Obama cultists in the face like an icewater douche, this is it. Me, I just figured things couldn’t get worse so… what the hell? And Mighty Sparrow said it was okay! On the other hand, if anyone suggested to me that thee absolute worst the Bronx has to offer— and one of the most loathsome of all current NYC politicians (a highly competitive category, I know)— would be plucked from obscurity (because let’s face it, who save a few activists and enterprising journalists cares about the Bronx?) and given any reward from Obama I’d have thrown up yesterday’s mondongo in utter revulsion. But who is Aldolfo Carrión and why are people saying such horrible things about him?
In the first section introduction to New York Calling (2007), “Public Space,” Brian Berger wrote:
… Lest there by any confusion, banners affixed to Park Row lampposts adjacent City Hall declare New York “The Real Estate Capital of the world.” What’s lost with such rhetoric is exactly what it touts, New York. The multi-ethnic Bronx Terminal Market was razed to make way for a big box development called the Gateway Center. If the city seems to be blurring, it’s not an illusion: a huge strip mall near Starrett City in Brooklyn has the same name; likewise dozens of facilities around the country. (Silliest: the Gateway Centr of Ames, Iowa, formerly a Holiday Inn.) A few blocks north, the Yankees, the wealthiest team in American sports, are building a new stadium on what was parkland, partly at public expense. Coincidentally, nearby Mott Haven is the poorest neighborhood in New York, with 46% of its residents living below the poverty line.
In the introduction to the “City Life” section, Berger went further:
… With religion playing only a small role in city governance, it’s ironic few New Yorkers pay attention to local politics. The effects of this disinterest are many— that amazingly corrupt Yankee Stadium deal being a recent example— none salutary, except for those with the money to game a corrupt system to their benefit. This explains how luxury developments receive tax subsidies and why New York will have had sixteen years of Republican Mayoralty when 48 of 51 City Council seats are held by Democrats. The Yankees faced overwhelming community opposition,yet political reaction citywide was largely quiet. Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr lives on City Island, which is as far from Macomb’s Dam Park as he can get, but his future is secure: the machine knows he plays ball.
In New York Calling‘s Bronx essay, Boogie Down-native C.J. Sullivan observed:
The future of the Bronx will not be found in its politicians. The new-school Latino and black power base has replaced old-school white ethnics who did a terrible job for the borough. The only problem is that the new boss— Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr, who sold out South Bronx locals for a new Yankee stadium and a shopping mall— is just like the old boss.
For more on this travesty of inane “hope” and ersatz “change,” see the excellent reporting of Neil Demause (greatest living sports writer) and Tom Robbins of the Village Voice (look for his excellent work on the Bronx Terminal Market story years ago also). The dogged folks up at Save Our Parks have been on Carrión like stink on shit, a coarse analogy but one that’s probably too kind to the Borough President. Hell, even the Neigborhood Retail Alliance is piling on!
So… anyone from the Obama administration or, failing that, anyone with an Obama poster, bumper sticker, t-shirt, refrigerator magnet, beer coozie, bath mat, tattoo, mural or book bag care to explain? Gracias in advance. My “hope” is that Carrión self-destructs on the way to D.C. like Bernard Kerik did before him but given the general lack of attention to the Bronx and Carrión’s token ethnic pass (let’s get real), I fear it’s too late for any good change is gonna come.
Ernie Koy Jr. is a native of Kingsbridge in The Bronx.