Mr. Speaker: Who is the Victim and the One Being Discriminated Against?

Mr. Speaker:  Who is the Victim and the One Being Discriminated Against?
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Picture credit: CJ Linkedin

You should know that this past February, as Chair of the New York City Council For Hire Vehicles Committee, I was a guest on a Spanish-language radio program with an audience of mostly taxi drivers where I shared my perspective about the New York City Council, saying they are “controlled by the homosexual community.”

As a result of my comments, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson destroyed and dissolved the For-Hire Vehicles Committee, crushing the spirits of many desperate cab drivers.

In response to my comments on that radio program, almost every elected official under the sun, including Governor Andrew Cuomo said that I should be punished, and most of them, including Bronx elected officials, Speaker Corey Johnson, and Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for my immediate resignation.

You should also know that earlier this month at a closed-door City Council training set only for Council Members (no staff or press), I made a comment during a heated discussion about reporting colleagues who compliment a man or a women, and I stated: “I won’t be a rat.”

In response to my comment, someone in that closed-door private training contacted the press and I was subject to another avalanche of public condemnation. Once again, the press came down on me, and the Twittersphere was abuzz with insulting remarks about me, against me and again, calling for my resignation.

In all fairness, I cannot understand how or why my colleague, Councilman Barry Grodenchik, who had been sexually harassing a woman on his staff for more than a year, got a slap on the wrist after he was caught. I can’t understand how he is being strongly defended by his colleagues and supposed women’s rights activist Helen Rosenthal in response to a sparse number of calls for his resignation. Is Speaker Corey Johnson going to lead the charge and call for Councilman Grodenchik’s resignation or dissolve the Parks and Recreation Committee that he chaired? I guess not…He is not Rev. Diaz.

Most recently, I see my colleagues turn a blind eye to Councilman Carlos Menchaca’s public criticism of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to expand the list of serious ICE crimes to include sexual trafficking of children or patronizing a child prostitute.

Is it outrageous that Councilman Menchaca or any sitting Member of the New York City Council could get a pass for not standing against crimes toward immigrant children who are being victimized? Is Speaker Corey Johnson going to call for Councilman Menchaca to resign or be removed as Chair of Committee of Immigration, or dissolve that Committee? I guess not…He is not Rev. Diaz.

Ladies and gentlemen, my claimed offenses are comments I made during a radio interview where I expressed my perspective, and comments during a closed-door meeting where thoughts and ideas are debated and flushed out. My claimed offenses are extreme criticisms of me expressing my opinion that should be protected by the First Amendment.

However, those other instances include elected officials who have a demonstrated a track record of offenses or abuses or disregard for actual injustice, and their actions are treated much less harshly. They get a pass. Why? They are not Rev. Diaz.

You should read an excellent article: ‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers” written by Brian Rosenthal that appeared in the May 19, 2019 edition of The New York Times. It speaks about how since the For Hire Vehicles Committee was eliminated, nothing has been done:

“Earlier this year, the Council eliminated the committee overseeing the industry after its chairman, Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx, said the Council was “controlled by the homosexual community.” The speaker, Mr. Johnson, said, “The vast majority of the legislative work that we have been looking at has already been completed.”

In a statement, a council spokesman said the committee’s duties had been transferred to the Committee on Transportation. “The Council is working to do as much as it can legislatively to help all drivers,” the spokesman said.
“As of last week, no one had been appointed to the task force.”

And so my dear reader, as you can see, the only elected official in the New York City Council who is being targeted, bullied, discriminated against, ostracized, insulted, and oppressed is me: the Black guy with the kinky hair and the broken English from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, who by the way, also happens to be a Pentecostal Minister.

I am Council Member Reverend Rubén Díaz, Sr. and this is what you should know.