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Photo by Candice M. Giove
The banner of the new Bronx Democratic County Committee headquarters hung over the awning of a South Bronx laundromat –- a symbol, perhaps, of the political clean-up planned by the occupying Rainbow Rebels.
“We decided to start fresh and open a new headquarters because it’s a new era in the Bronx,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who stood in front of the office at 914 East 163rd Street. “We’re not waiting another minute. We have work to do and we’re going to roll up our sleeves and do the work to elect Democrats.”
Less than a week has passed since the unruly Bronx Democratic County Committee election left the borough split with two elected officials claiming victory as the party’s leader. (Rebels believe their election will stand, as Assemblyman Jose Rivera’s “re-election” was riddled with irregularities.)
“We are 100 percent confident that we will be certified,” said Assemblyman Carl Heastie, who was elected by the borough’s district leaders to serve as county chairman.
While the outcome of that election remains in limbo –- the Rebels still have to wait to hear from the Bronx Board of Elections before they determine whether the matter will go to court –- Heastie intends to dig right into campaigning for the Obama/Biden ticket and to help New York Democrats secure a majority in the State Senate.
“If we waited for [a ruling], it would be the eve of the election,” he said.
Decorated with American flags, glittering star cutouts, and a life-size cut-out of Barack Obama, the office will include a phone bank and an Obama volunteer center.
Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr. said opening the office shows how “confident” the Rebels are of their victory. “We want to make sure that in the interim we go out there, put the message out, and behave as a Democratic organization,” he said.
The Rebels are paying for the office, which had served as Diaz’s campaign headquarters, by pitching in from their campaign funds. Jose Rivera still retains control of the Bronx Democratic County Committee’s bank accounts.
“As far as the bank accounts,” said Dinowitz, “it seems like he’s done everything he could to reduce the size of those bank accounts, such as having a County Dinner and the funds going into his own campaign committee rather than into the coffers of the Bronx Democratic Party — almost as if he knew months in advance that he would no longer be the chairman.”
Dinowitz added that Rivera hasn’t paid rent on his Westchester Square headquarters in months. “I hope they don’t leave the Party bankrupt as many people suspect they will,” he said.