You should know that in Puerto Rico there is a cliché that says “Para muestra con un boton basta” translation is that “For a Sample a single button will suffice” which means that it is not necessary to disclose everything, because one can easily deduce everything that remains to be discovered by merely showing a button. When someone wants to know if there is authenticity this old saying signifies that with a sample one button is enough.
You should also know that Bronx County is represented by nine (9) elected members on the City Council of the City of New York. Each one of them claims to be the best advocate, and defender of our communities within the districts each one of them represents.
The job and responsibilities of those nine (9) Council members is and must be to protect, guard, defend and create better opportunities for the Bronx County and its residents by ensuring their welfare and security.
It is important that you know that this past Thursday, October 17, the President of Bronx County, the members of the Community Planning Board # 1, the residents of the Beekman Houses, and the residents of public housing in the South Bronx were abandoned, when five (5) out of the nine (9) Bronx Council Members disgracefully voted in favor of constructing a prison in the area of the Beekman Houses, only (4) voted against bringing a prison to this area.
You should know that the only (4) Bronx Council Members voting against this project were Councilmen Rafael Salamanca, Jr., Andy King, Fernando Cabrera and yours truly, Rev. Rubén Diaz. We voted against the construction of these prisons and against spending 10 billion tax payer dollars. The four of us recognized that if there is no money to make boiler repairs in NYCHA buildings in the Bronx and throughout the city, then those 10 billion dollars should not be spent on the construction of four (4) new prisons.
The Bronx Community Board # 1, the residents of Beekman Houses, and the majority of Bronx County residents, led by Bronx Borough President Rubén Diaz, Jr., conducted a battle against spending money and building a prison in the area of Diego Beekman Houses. Only Council members Rafael Salamanca, Rev. Fernando Cabrera, Andy King, and yours truly heard the clamor and the desperate request of the people we represent.
The other (5) Bronx councilmembers who shamefully voted in favor of this project are Richie Torres, Diana Ayala, Vanessa Gibson, Mark Gjonaj and Andy Cohen. They decided to turn their backs on the Bronx residents and instead chose to support Mayor Bill de Blasio going directly against the people of the Bronx which they were elected to represent.
This project, costing 10 billion dollars, is geared toward the building of four (4) new high rise prison buildings in four NYC Boroughs which are Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, while in Staten Island not one prison will be built. Why? This plan was hatched by Melissa Mark-Viverito when she was serving as the President of the City Council.
Those billions of dollars in funding could have been allocated and put to better use in repairing existing public housing apartments, make much needed boiler repairs so that our people, children, and elderly don’t suffer in the winter without heat and hot water, or allocate monies to painting and renovating the apartments to prevent our children from getting poisoned due to exposure to lead paint.
That money (10 billion) dollars could have been used to build permanent housing for the 60 thousand homeless families now living in NYC shelters.
Instead these five (5) of our representatives, Richie Torres, Diana Ayala, Vanessa Gibson, Mark Gjonaj and Andy Cohen decided to spend 10 billion dollars on the construction of four (4) new prison buildings including one in the Bronx, ignoring the will of the residents of the area, ignoring the will of Community Board # 1 and ignoring the will of the Bronx Borough President.
When it comes to defending our community and when it comes to not bowing down to Mayor Bill de Blasio or to the pressures of vested interests; Councilmembers Rafael Salamanca, Fernando Cabrera, Andy King, and this servant, with our vote against the construction of said prisons in our neighborhoods, sent a strong message to the Mayor: Saying that Our goal has always been, is and will continue to be in the defense, the welfare, and betterment of our communities.
The vote that was cast against and in favor of building new prisons in our neighborhoods should now tell you who are the ones that adhere to their oath to defend and serve our communities. Therefore, I want you to know how that old saying goes “For a sample a single-button will suffice”.
The single action by these (9) Bronx Councilmembers and the way in which they voted should tell you who are the true defenders of our Bronx communities.
I am Council Member Rev. Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.