Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Diaz to the Defense

We had a very nice and productive conversation with Bronx BP Ruben Diaz yesterday on his role in the Kingsbridge Armory fight. Diaz felt that we were a little bit too dismissive of the role that he has to play in the current ULURP process. Maybe we were-but the criticism was directed more at the diminished role that is assigned to BPs in the statute, rather than any personal critique of Diaz.

That being said, he does have a positive role he can play-and his previous criticisms of how Adolfo Carrion simply carried the water for developers should inform how he moves forward on crafting a position on the Armory. A truly empowering CBA is a phenomenon that has yet to be seen in the Bronx-or any where else in NYC-with Atlantic Yards, in our view, being the major exception. In similar fashion, Diaz can insure that KARA-and its major positions-becomes the center piece of the CBA; and, if the devloper balks he can send a single to the city council that the Bronx is going to be headed in a new progressive direction.

At the same time, Diaz-who has been a staunch defender of local business (see Key Food on Bruckner Blvd.)-can support the eight Bronx council members who have declared their opposition to the inclusion of a supermarket/big box food use at the Armory. And his opposition should be based on the same righteous views that he exemplified in the Bruckner battle, since an Armory-based large food use will diminish the number of Bronx supermarkets. And, by the way, Morton Williams deserves the same kind of support that Diaz, his father Ruben Diaz Sr., and Councilwoman Palma demonstrated on Bruckner.

So while the BP's role is only advisory, he does have a considerable bully pulpit-and should use it to send a message to the Bloombergistas. If the city's EDC issues an RFP that specifically excludes any competing food uses at the armory, than someone should stand up and simply hold them to the terms that they themselves laid out. If Diaz does all of this, his first real leadership test will be seen as a shining moment for Bronx County.