I recently highlighted Yetta Kurland's City Council run and the issues (in Manhattan) related to the closing of hospitals without clear understanding of the real dynamics of healthcare in the US. Well my friend Jo Anne Simon, a Democratic Party District Leader in Brooklyn, is addressing similar issues in Brooklyn.
Here is what I said about the Manhattan situation:
...let's remember that closing of St. Vincent's coupled with the closing of NYU's Tisch Hospital, Bellevue Hospital and the VA hospital meant that emergency room coverage was critically low in Manhattan for some time after Sandy. In fact the NYU Medical Center's emergency room remains down today, though I believe their Urgent Care center is now open.
Sadly few people have been championing keeping hospitals open. The dynamic is a complex one. Hospitals almost all run at a loss. This is not because of mismanagement usually but because the cost of care in emergency rooms and ICUs is so hugely expensive that it tends to lose money at a huge rate...in order to save lives. The more people who don't have health insurance, the more people who have to depend on emergency rooms for basic care...and the more money it costs the hospitals. Reduce the number of uninsured people and spread emergency visits over more hospitals and the burden on each hospital is reduced. But leave lots of uninsured and close hospitals and each remaining hospital gets an even higher burden on their emergency rooms...driving them deeper into a financial hole.
Closing St. Vincent's just increased the burden on every other hospital. Of course Healthcare reform is a key way to improve the financial strength of our hospitals, but closing hospitals really isn't. Yetta Kurland gets that.
Well similar ill conceived crap is going on in Brooklyn as well and Jo Anne Simon is on top of it. From a recent email she sent:
Last week, NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report showing that SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Long Island College Hospital were teetering on the brink and that closing LICH has been discussed by its board.
Tomorrow, January 25th at 11 AM, join federal, state and local elected officials in the little park across the street from LICH (339 Hicks Street) for a rally to call attention to this situation and call upon the state and the hospital to find a way to retain medical services at LICH, an all important teaching hospital in an area with an increasing number of families needing its services!
Again, let me emphasize that the closing of these hospitals is largely due specifically to the costs they bear taking care of uninsured Americans, and each hospital that closes increases the burden on EVERY OTHER HOSPITAL in the area because all those uninsured Americans will have to now either die or go to the next nearest hospital. Thanks to Yetta Kurland and Jo Anne Simon for realizing the importance of this issue. People who try to just apply some imagined "business model" seem to ignore the larger dynamics. Single payer could solve a LOT of this. But until then, we have to protect our hospitals from closing because when hospitals close, people die AND other hospitals have to take on the expensive burden of caring for the uninsured. WE ARE NOT DEALING WITH THIS, and these closings really will mean the difference between life and death for New Yorkers who have to be rushed to the hospital. This is a key reason to support both Yetta Kurland and Jo Anne Simon. It is an issue we all can ignore until we are in an ambulance and the closest hospital is further than we can survive. THAT is becoming the situation. We can fight it or accept it and pray (not my strong point) that we never end up in that ambulance.
And by the way, Bloomberg's closing of firehouses creates the same problem if you have a fire in your building or a neighboring building. Right now you are less likely to have your home survive a fire thanks to the closing of firehouses. When we cut back on teachers, nurses, firehouses and hospitals, EVERYONE gets fucked. Sadly, not too many people are talking about this. Jo Anne Simon IS talking about it and Yetta Kurland is making it the focus of her run for City Council. More power to both of them.
More from Jo Anne Simon... read more »
The final tally is in and corrupt FORMER party boss Vito Lopez wins one last race even as he disappears in disgrace. From the Lincoln Restler campaign:
More than a month after the last ballot was cast, the Board of Elections determined yesterday after counting more than 12,000 votes by hand that we came up 19 votes short - 50.08% to 49.92%.
It has been a crazy roller coaster ride over the past month. At different moments we were certain we had lost and at others equally confident that we had pulled it out. What I do know is that phenomenal community support propelled this campaign forward. I am proud of the campaign we ran and our ability to secure 83% of the vote in Greenpoint, 86% of the vote in the Northside, and 93% of the vote in Fort Greene. In contrast, more than 91% of the votes my opponent received came from one block of voters in the Hasidic community.
Accusations of fraud have been leveled at the Hasidic community that gave Vito Lopez's candidate the win, but Restler has decided not to contest the results further.
19 votes. If ANYONE tells you their vote doesn't count so why bother, slap them in the face. If just 20 more reformers came out to vote in the Democratic primary, Lincoln Restler would have won re-eleciton and Vito Lopez's last hurrah would have been a narrow loss rather than a narrow win.
If one thing comes out of this, I hope it is that reform minded people in Brooklyn stop ignoring primaries!
In the mean time, if you want to help build the reform movement of Brooklyn, please join New Kings Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats, or Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. These clubs are the best way to make a difference locally.
[NOTE: see bottom for the rumored meeting of the minds between CBID and Frank Seddio!]
[UPDATE: and the count switches again! I have to admit this kind of thing always makes me wonder about how we count our votes around here!]
One of the most hotly contested races in Brooklyn this year is one that normally would get no attention: a race for a single District Leader position on Democratic County Committee. Normally something only insiders pay attention to, the re-election of reform District Leader Lincoln Restler over a challenge from the now disgraced former Party Boss Vito "Dirty Old Man" Lopez has been making repeated headlines.
Lincoln Restler was never meant to win in the first place. Two years ago he surprised everyone but beating the Vito Lopez machine in the first place. He remains one of perhaps 5 reliably reform District Leaders on County Committee. And a major embarrassment to Vito Lopez (who, to be fair, is himself an embarrassment to all Democrats). In what might be his very last power play in Brooklyn, Vito Lopez ran his crony Chris Olechowski against Restler. Olechowski's support came almost exclusively from one faction of Brooklyn's powerful Hasidic community. Restler's support came from almost everywhere else. On primary election night it looked like the Hasidic votes and Vito Lopez machine (who may share an interest in getting the Brooklyn DA to suppress sexual harassment prosecutions?) had one by some 50 votes. A very close election and already a sign that Vito Lopez had lost his mojo (that's what SHE said!).
But that left absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. And in a further sign that EVERY VOTE COUNTS, in the end reformer Lincoln Restler now looks to have won re-election by about 50 votes. Here is Lincoln's announcement:
On Friday evening, the canvassing of voting machines was completed and emergency, affidavit, and absentee ballots were all fully accounted for. Board of Elections staff and our election lawyers confirmed the result: every valid ballot had been counted and we had overcome a 136 vote margin on election night to be ahead by 53 votes in the final result.
Then on Saturday, we received a phone call from technological consultants to the Board of Elections informing us that their assessment had changed. Two memory sticks from the same scanning machine had yielded different results. We spent the weekend assessing how two data drives from the same machine could possibly provide different numbers, but we now believe we are facing a deficit of 31 votes.
Ultimately this vote difference does not change what happens next: despite everything the Brooklyn machine threw at us - the margin in this election is so small that State law mandates a hand recount of every ballot before the election result is final. The spread is now 50.1% to 49.9% in a 12,000 vote race, which means every single ballot that the BOE will now be reviewing truly counts. We are looking for volunteers who would be willing to help us monitor the hand recount...
Vito Lopez must HATE those words, "hand recount." I remember it was such a recount that lost him his FIRST major judicial seat when Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres won in a recount. It was during that recount that the current reform movement in Brooklyn first showed some real organization. Hopefully they will again and I urge anyone who wants to help in the recount contact New Kings Democrats for more information.
This is a key moment in Brooklyn politics. We have seen the fall of yet another corrupt Democratic Party leader. The reform movement was already strong enough two years ago to start appearing as at least a minor threat on Vito's radar. Though his grip on power was largely unchallenged, the small losses he suffered was starting to look like a death of a thousand cuts. The machine itself was turning on him bit by bit with the likes of Diana Reyna and Lew Fidler having public fallings out with Vito. And reform clubs like Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and New Kings Democrats were starting to be more effective.
This year the new Party Boss, Frank Seddio, has made a big show of welcoming the reform movement into his machine. Let's be honest. The marriage of reform to machine will not be a match made in heaven and will be a rocky one. But the fact that it exists at all is progress on both sides. And repudiation of Vito Lopez's thuggish style of running things. It would be fitting if this new at least surface unity within the Democratic Party in Brooklyn is ushered in with Vito Lopez's final defeat in the re-election of Lincoln Restler.
Next fight? How about the reform and machine Democrats focus on electing Andrew Gounardes to the State Senate and Mark Murphy for Congress just to name two. AndI urge readers in Brooklyn to get involved with the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats or New Kings Democrats to keep the reform movement strong.
Interestingly, in what may be viewed by some as a sign of the Apocalypse, machine Party Boss Frank Seddio is rumored to be coming to speak at the next Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats meeting this Thursday, Sept. 24th, 7:00pm at the Park Slope United Methodist Church (Downstairs), 6th Avenue (Between 7th/8th Streets). Should be interesting! CBID is famous for its challenging questions for politicians.
It is now official. Lincoln Restler is the new District Leader/State Committee member from the 50th Assembly District, beating Vito Lopez's candidate by 120 votes. The reform movement wins another one and the Vito Lopez machine loses a tad more control.
Lincoln Restler with Councilwoman Diana Reyna (from the New Kings Democrats Website)
(Yes, I like the photo because it shows two people who stood up to Vito and won)
Vito Lopez has had a REALLY bad September.
Lincoln Restler is one of the founders of the New Kings Democrats, which was specifically founded to chip away at the Vito Lopez machine in exactly the way they just did. From the Village Voice:
Williamsburg's young political upstart, Lincoln Restler, walked into the offices of (currently embattled) Brooklyn Democrat party boss Vito Lopez's office a while back, wanting to get involved with politics on a local level and help institute changes he believed in. Lopez tossed him out and told him to kiss the ring of his establishment. Well, Restler just told Lopez to kiss his ass, by winning an election, and possibly putting him out of business for good...
fter the counting of absentee ballots, Lincoln Restler has defeated he pro-Lopez Warren Cohn -- son of legacy state committeeman Steve Cohn -- by a count of 3639 to 3519: 120 votes. The results will take a week to be certified, but the significance of this election is that Restler may end up, incidentally, being the tipping point for the end of Vito Lopez's iron reign on Brooklyn's democrats.
For those who are interested, the next meeting of the New Kings Democrats is:
Wed, October 6, 7pm – 9pm
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 334 S. 5th St. (btwn Keap & Rodney St.), Brooklyn, NY
And if you REALLY want to help keep the reform coming, give New Kings Democrats a small donation."
These are the new folks who won last night who are going to give Party Boss Vito Lopez some headaches (relative sizes of photos mere coincidence...not indicative of anything but how the photos were from the original websites...Guess CBID has small photos).
Chris Owens, from the 52nd (where he is teamed up with incumbent reform district leader Jo Anne Simon)
Chris Owens with Velmanette Montgomery (from the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats Website)
Lincoln Restler, from the 50th:
Lincoln Restler with the lovely Councilwoman Diana Reyna (from the New Kings Democrats Website)
Kevin Carroll, from the 60th: (I stayed neutral in this race)