By Nolan Hicks and Carl Campanile
February 11, 2019
Photo by: Matthew McDermott; R. Umar Abbasi
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said Monday that Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. should step down for making an inflammatory remark about the gay community.
“I think he should resign. It’s not up to me, but I think what he said is totally unacceptable,” Johnson said during a press briefing in Albany, where he testified on the state budget.
Diaz was quoted in an interview on a Spanish language radio program — picked up by NY1 — saying the city council is “controlled by the homosexual community.”
“And him doubling down on those comments and saying he’s the victim clearly shows how out of touch he is — no level of contrition. I think that he should resign,” said Johnson, who is openly gay.
But he said he’d leave it up to the entire council whether to strip Diaz of his chairmanship of the taxi committee or face other punishment.
“That is a decision for the entire body. My personal viewpoint if it’s that he should resign, I think tells you what I think about everything else,” said Johnson.
Members of the Council’s LGBT and progressive caucuses — led by Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer — will rally on the steps of City Hall Tuesday demanding that Diaz get out.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was also in Albany to testify on budget issues, said of Diaz, “Unless he apologizes, he should leave.”
“He’s been given every opportunity to apologize,” the mayor added.
City Comtproller Scott Stringer said Diaz should be stripped of his committee chairmanship and censured.
Johnson’s turn against the controversial lawmaker and minister is a far cry from 2016, when he visited Diaz in the hospital as he was wooing support to become speaker.
Diaz ended up voting for Johnson.
A leading gay activist said Johnson erred by giving Diaz a chairmanship.
“Corey never should have given Diaz the taxi committee in the first place,” said Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Democratic Club.
“Why are electeds expressing anger at Diaz Sr. after humanizing and empowering him for years. He’s said nothing new that he hasn’t said for over 30 years. They must be held accountable,” he fumed.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the councilman deserves to be punished for his “outrageous” statement.
“If he should be sanctioned… I think it would be justified. But it’s up to Corey Johnson,” Cuomo said.
Additional reporting by Rich Calder