Adolfo Carrion Reminds Us Why He's Not the Latino NY Needs for Statewide Office

No, gracias
No, gracias

The wrong Carrion nominated himself for lieutenant governor in this morning's Daily News.

Think of Gladys Carrion, the celebrated commissioner of the New York State Office of Children & Family Services, or a host of other prominent Latinos before Adolfo Carrion, the ex-Bronx borough president and current White House urban policy adviser, who appears to be maneuvering to get Andrew Cuomo to consider him as a running mate.

The inexhaustible Liz Benjamin wrote a piece today depicting Adolfo Carrion as a candidate for the job, which has taken on new significance since it became David Paterson's path to power. Carrion apparently thinks it's smart politics to leave a "call me" message for Andrew Cuomo with Liz. That clanging sound Carrion may now be hearing is a receiver off the hook.

A check of Carrion's filings with the New York City Campaign Finance Board indicates that he was paying Roberto Ramirez's Mirram Group until shortly before he left New York in early 2009 to take his White House job. Just a couple of days before Carrion appears to have floated his own name as Cuomo's running mate, the attorney general announced a $2 million settlement with Global Strategies Group, Ramirez's partner in an apparently improper solicitation of state pension funds for a joint client.

Former Bronx Democratic boss Ramirez, who arranged a 2007 meeting with State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, which instantly resulted in his client tripling his multimillion share of pension bucks, has yet to settle with Cuomo, and the AG continues to probe him. Ramirez's company, Mirram, partnered with Global years ago in something called Mirram Global, and the settlement indicates that only Global has settled with Cuomo, though the two entities split an $883,333 fee on the deal. Global acknowledged that it participated in the deal without registering as a broker-dealer.

Ramirez, a former assemblyman close to Speaker Shelly Silver, may have marketed his ties to DiNapoli, also a former assemblyman who had then just been installed in the comptroller's post by Silver. Carrion, whose campaign committee dispensed more than a half million dollars to Ramirez-tied entities on his way to becoming borough president, appeared to distance himself from Mirram when he dropped them as his primary consultant in 2003. But Carrion resumed paying Mirram in 2004, and in 2008 alone, when he wasn't running for anything, Carrion dumped $65,000 in the Mirram pot.

What Benjamin's story is so right about is how long overdue it is that a Latino appears on a statewide Democratic ticket. No Latino has ever been elected to a citywide or statewide position of power.

Last month I went to a reception featuring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor up at the Museo del Barrio. Justice Sotomayor was there to honor her lifelong friend Margarita Rosa, the executive director of Grand Street Settlement and a classmate of Sotomayor's at Princeton in the 1970s. Also there was Gladys Carrion and Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the commissioner for aging under Mayor Bloomberg. This is the kind of celebration of Latino excellence where Cuomo could find a lieutenant governor with the skills to govern, uncontaminated by the political culture Ramirez embodies.

A Harvard Law grad, Rosa was first the general counsel and then the commissioner of state human rights division under Mario Cuomo, the first Hispanic and first woman to ever run that agency. She's practiced law with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund and two private firms, and taught at Fordham Law School, the Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, and Baruch.

Gladys Carrion has been praised by the New York Times for her efforts under Governors Spitzer and Paterson to clean up the mess of the state juvenile prison system, taking on the unions, the physical restraint and abuse of juveniles by guards, and the wasteful and politically motivated expansion of these facilities. She's closed 11 of them, pushing community-based facilities. A former senior vice president of the United Way, the tough-minded Carrion was once the city's community development commissioner.

Barrios-Paoli has been the commissioner of five different city agencies -- Personnel, Employment, Housing Preservation Development, Human Resources Administration, and now Aging. She ran Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.

If Cuomo thinks it's finally time for a Latino on a statewide ticket, he doesn't have to limit himself to the political class. Plus, he can get a twofer by picking one of these outstanding Latino women whose resumes advertise the managerial skills and social conscience this job should require.


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