If Mayor Bill de Blasio paid more attention to what’s happening in New York City instead of jetting off to faraway places, he would have noticed that there are two well-respected women running the city Department of Correction. Bochincheros are saying that it might even help the mayor with the search to replace Joseph Ponte, the ex-correction commissioner who resigned in May after he admitted to driving more than 18,500 out-of-state miles on the city’s dime, mostly to his home in Maine. It appears that this is the first time the department is being led by two women. More importantly, the buzz is that they’re doing well and can handle the politics around Rikers Island.
One of them is Cynthia Brann, who was hired as deputy commissioner of quality assurance and integrity in August 2015. A senior insider bochinchero described Brann as “a competent, knowledgeable and seasoned person.” Then there’s Hazel Jennings, who was appointed bureau chief of facility operations in February 2016. B&B was told that, like Brann, Jennings is also “highly knowledgeable, no-nonsense and effective.” According to another bochinchero, “They’re already holding people accountable.”
The buzz is that the current circumstances allow for a promotion from within. “The mayor shouldn’t make the same mistake again,” one bochinchero said. “He can’t bring in a person with expertise in running a prison. Rikers is a jail. We’re a holding pen.” Other bochincheros agreed that this is a recurring problem. “Whoever de Blasio recruits from the outside will take about a year to figure out how the department and Rikers work,” one said. Sounds reasonable. Pero, there may need to be some clarity with Brann’s role in the Ponte scandal.
Astorino and Sliwa, no mas amigos
Not too many people can blame Rob Astorino for being pissed off at Curtis Sliwa. (Everybody hates Curtis in New York City.) After all, the Westchester County executive is considered the founding member of the state Reform Party. So, one would think that even after the court battle for control of the party – which was won by Sliwa and Frank Morano – they might endorse Astorino for re-election as a way to kiss and make up. Not in Sliwa’s world. The Reform Party has instead endorsed state Sen. George Latimer – a Democrat – over Astorino. Sources told B&B that Astorino is fuming. “You’ve destroyed a 20-year friendship,” Astorino told Sliwa in a heated exchange between the former amigos. For his part, Sliwa, in his capacity as party chairman, told Astorino, “You’ve strayed away, Rob. You’re no longer a reformer.” Besides the current feud, the problem for Astorino is that if he wins his re-election, he’d want the Reform Party’s backing to run for governor in 2018. The thinking here is that the Republican nomination to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo is up for grabs, and the Reform Party might want to back another horse. This may be a vergogna, or shame in Italian, but it’s good bochinche. And I’m sure Cuomo is smiling.
What’s in a ??
A knowledgeable insider political bochinchero told B&B, “Of the six candidates running for Brooklyn DA, only Vincent Gentile has obtained a Chinese name (on the ballot),” referring to the practice of New York City politicians choosing a Chinese name for elections, as mandated by federal law.
Gentile, a term-limited city councilman representing Bay Ridge, is running against a field of candidates that includes acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Patricia Gatling, Ama Dwimoh, Anne Swern and Marc Fliedner – all of whom have worked as prosecutors in the Brooklyn DA’s office.
Even though the other wannabes have never run for office, the bochinchero points out, “They really need to get on the stick, or else nobody in Sunset Park (the third Chinatown) will know which Chinese names correspond with which candidates on Election Day.” That would be the Tuesday, Sept. 12, Democratic primary in this Year of the Rooster on the Chinese calendar. By the way, 2016 was the Year of the Monkey and 2018 will be the Year of the Dog. Given the results of last year’s presidential election, interpret that as you will.