Well, it looks like Vito's kid will get a challenger even though Lincoln Restler decided to give it a miss. Just to be clear, Steve Levin is good on policy, but his continued refusal to face up to the corruption of his former boss, Vito Lopez, suggests he is unrepentant for Vito's corruption...or too scared to say anything. Bottom line is he was chief of staff for Vito and to me that implies he either knew what was going on or was merely a lame figurehead. Neither looks great. Yet Levin has done his best to ignore that connection in hopes people will forget.
I think he's better than his former boss by far. But I still cannot trust him as long as he doesn't face up to his past.
Here's the announcement from Levin's challenger:
WHO: Stephen Pierson, founder and director of a successful not-for-profit organization, will be a candidate for membership in the New York City Council from Brooklyn’s 33rd District. He will be competing against the four-year incumbent, Steve Levin.
WHAT: Stephen Pierson will announce his candidacy for City Council. He will highlight his own record of accomplishments and also target the problematic relationship between Steve Levin and disgraced former Democratic County leader Vito Lopez and the impact of that relationship on the 33rd Council District. Other speakers will include individuals familiar with Stephen Pierson’s record as well as individuals involved with the local communities included within the 33rd Council District.
WHEN: This Sunday, April 21, 3:00 PM
WHERE: Brooklyn Borough Hall
– Main steps next to the plaza.
Not much info in the press release and no hint who is backing Pierson. He is a Brooklyn community board member and has hired Brooklyn reform district leader Chris Owens for his campaign.
And just to be clear...so far I see no reason to endorse in this race.
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 »
[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.
Tonight was the first Brooklyn Democratic County Committee meeting my wife and I felt accomplished anything.
Our first County Committee meeting (sounds so romantic!) was Clarence Norman's last meeting before he went to jail. We were recruited by a friend and had little warning of what we were in for. My wife was 2 weeks overdue in giving birth to our son (his fault, not hers...he refused to get into position...kind of gave us a sense of his personality right there!). We wondered if his birth might upstage Clarence Norman's last stand...but he held on and was born later.
But the meeting was a farce. A circus. It was literally scripted from start to finish and was as uninviting and undemocratic as could be. The only saving grace was Ken Diamondstone's determined effort to stand up to the farce and at least SHOW that it was a farce. I wish we had been warned in advance. We might have been able to help Ken in showing what a farce the official Democratic Party was in Brooklyn.
Here's the key. I despise corruption. It puts the self interest of a handful of powerful folks over the actual governance of our country, our state, our city. I cannot stand when people put their own self interest so blatantly and completely ahead of the community. That is what Republicans do these days. When I was a kid even Republicans didn't do that so much.
I spend a great deal of time fighting Republican corruption. So when I realized that the head of the Democratic Party in my own area, Clarence Norman, was going to jail, it kind of made me feel sick. Seeing County Committee in action made me realize the corruption went deeper than Clarence Norman.
From then on I got to watch the Vito Lopez machine replace the Clarence Norman machine. I saw no real change. No recognition that the corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic Party was an embarrassment to the Democratic Party in general and was potential ammunition for the Republican Party. I predicted early on that this would mean we would start losing to the Republicans here in Brooklyn because the local Democratic Party was more dedicated to perpetuating the power of a handful of corrupt sleazebags than actually electing Democrats in contested elections.
Now, though the dynamics are more complicated than this, having in many ways to do with developments within a segment of the Jewish community that puts intolerance before community-interest, but the Democratic Party in Brooklyn has indeed been falling apart. We are losing contested elections like crazy. The number of contested elections are still small, but the dynamics are changing and the slack and corrupt attitude that I have seen locally in the Brooklyn Democratic Party has meant that we will continue to lose unless we start changing how we do business.
THAT is the most important thing to learn from the last 8 years as well as from tonight's meeting. And in tonight's meeting SOME people got it and, really, really sadly, some didn't.
more below read more »
Brooklyn Blogger Gatemouth over at Room 8 makes a big error in his recent pieces on Brooklyn Politics. In it he refers to the reform movement that is fighting the massively corrupt (and apparently somewhat depraved) head of the Democratic Party machine, Vito Lopez, as being a monolithic group whose every statement is planned in advance by the Supreme Reform Soviet of Brooklyn before being uttered.
He knows full well the reformers are a disorganized, squabbling bunch who actually put up no less than FOUR candidates one year in a City Council election against Vito Lopez's pet, Steve Levin. Naturally Levin won. Had the reformers been as unified and monolithic as Gatemouth treats them, Levin may well have lost. Organizing the reform Democrats in Brooklyn is even more like herding cats than the general Democratic Party exercise in cat-herding. read more »