Friday, April 21, 2006

Politics: In Rev. Diaz family saga, just follow the money

Following yesterday's story on records that show that Assemblymember Ruben Diaz, Jr. steered discretionary legislative grants towards a Bronx-based community agency that employed his father, the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. (currently a state senator), as well as the elder Diaz's ex-wife and wife, the Albany Times-Union continues to look at the money trail in an article published today.

In "Funds followed senator's kin," James M. Odato takes a look at how the Soundview Community in Action center lost most of its state funding once it stopped employing members of the Diaz family in 2003 and shows how the money followed instead to institutions such as the Christian Community in Action and the Christian Community Neigborhood Church which had one thing in common: They were founded and/or employed members of the Diaz family.

Interestingly, when Odato tries to get comments from state officials, they either speak off the record, say that they are looking at the allegations and can't comment or vaguely talk about following guidelines. A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat as is Diaz, Sr., does go on record in a veiled defense of the state senator by implying that the funds were used to "meet specific needs of the community."

The Times-Union should be commended for not following the Democratic leadership's temerity. Today, the paper also runs an editorial titled "Pork: A family affair"

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