Bochinche & Buzz: March 18, 2018

Exclusive scoops & insider gossip by Gerson Borrero

NYC Mayor’s “Special Assistant” is no longer Chair of the Puerto Rican Day Parade

Though it’s not reflected on the National Puerto Rican Day Parade website, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez is no longer the Chairperson of the organization.

“She’s finally resigned as Chair, but she’s still on the Board,” one bochinchero said. That individual was one of four that have spoken to me since late February about Lorraine's involvement with the NPRDP. That same bochinchero then went on to call Mayor de Blasio’s political appointment all sorts of names that we’re not printing here.

Among the common complaints about the now former Chair of the Parade is one shared by all four of the bochincheros. Using almost the exact same words, all four held Lorraine responsible for the decision to honor political prisoner Oscar López Rivera at last year’s parade, calling it:  “disastrous," "destructive,” “divisive,” “foolish,” and “stupid.”

The controversial decision led to the withdrawal of major event sponsors and the condemnation from political leaders both in New York City and Puerto Rico and negative coverage by both print tabloids and TV. The parade also saw the lowest attendance by Puerto Rican spectators in recent history.

In fairness to Lorraine, three of the four bochincheros acknowledged that the blame for sticking to the honor bestowed to López Rivera was “the insistence by Melissa [Mark-Viverito].” The former Speaker of the NYC Council was responsible for influencing attorney General Eric Schneiderman to restructure the NPRDP Board and designate Lorraine as Chair.

Moving forward, the new Chairperson of the Board is Louis Maldonado. With the 61st annual event on Fifth Avenue set to take place on June 9, two of the insider bochincheros don’t know why the announcement hasn’t been made public. There’s been other members who have left the board and nada has been said about them either. Another concern by some is that the former Chair will remain on the board. “She can’t help but second guess the new chair and will expect to be consulted on all matters.” Veremos.

Cesar Perales not so bueno for some

Upon hearing of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s appointment of 77-year old Cesar Augusto Perales to head the Charter Revision Commission,  the reaction from at least one veteran bochinchero was, “Oh no, I thought he retired.” That was about as kind as the reactions got.

“Es un vago,” was another statement from a younger veteran political insider who added, “his work ethics are questionable.” The sentiment that the well-known attorney and public servant is lazy is not shared by the Mayor, who in his press release said: “For democracy to truly function, we have to get big money out of politics. With Cesar at its head, the Charter Revision Commission will help New York City lead the nation in improving our democracy.”

And yet, there are those who saw this appointment as negative. One bochinchero told B&B that Cesar “will just do whatever de Blasio wants.” 

That’s in addition to the fact that the New York Post reported in this March 16 article that the Mayor and the NYC Council may wind up with two Charter Commissions. “I don’t think we’re going to let the Mayor get away with this. We certainly wouldn’t have picked Cesar “Paralysis” to chair it,” is what one bochinchero told us - referencing the moniker given to Perales years ago by some Latino elected officials who complained that “he [Perales] didn’t get anything done.” Among those former critics was veteran Bronx County político José Rivera, who we did not speak to for this piece.

There’s also the relationship that Cesar has with Governor Andrew Cuomo. Perales served as Secretary of State for Cuomo from 2011-2016 and was also appointed to the SUNY Board of Trustees by Cuomo though he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. This had one Albany bochinchero opining: “You can bet Cuomo’s pulling his name out.” Given the ongoing and growing feud between the Governor and the Mayor, I'd say that’s a sure bet.