We have been discussing amongst ourselves whether we would look at candidates beyond Steve Levin, Jo Anne Simon and Evan Thies. The reason is simple. We do not think that any of the other four candidates have any real viability: Isaac Abraham, Ken Baer, Doug Biviano or Ken Diamondstone. Baer and Diamondstone have advanced some interesting ideas on development and the environment. But none of the four seems to have the organization or fund raising to win. Sorry to be so blunt.
We have decided though to take a closer look at Doug Biviano because he is the only candidate that has responded to us directly on our blog and elsewhere. Biviano’s record of working on behalf of the 33rd District is basically nil. We don’t say so necessarily by way of criticism. He could still be a good candidate without any real record. But he’s not. His only direct political work has been two months as New York State coordinator for Dennis Kucinich’s 2008 presidential campaign. There appears to be a small discrepancy in Biviano’s resume with respect to his work for Kucinich. Biviano claims to have worked for Kucinich from December 2007 through February 2008 — three months. In fact, Kucinich actually abandoned his presidential campaign on January 24, 2008 after he failed to poll more than 2% in any contest.
Our issue with Biviano is not his lack of political experience or work on behalf of the 33rd. Everyone needs to start somewhere. Rather, it is the fact that he resorts to platitudes and attacks instead of a real understanding of the issues facing the 33rd District. Looking at his campaign website’s “Big Ideas” page shows that he has no real plans or concrete legislative agenda if elected to the Council. Rather, he is the “Emperor of the Air” focused on buzz words without any substance or plan like the following:
- Support union jobs and livable wages.
- Create tax incentives and recruitment programs to bring back industry to NYC.
- Lobby Albany and Washington for more funds to keep our infrastructure safe and in good service instead of expanding wars.
- Lobby Albany in support of the LGBT Community, Same-sex Marriage and the economic opportunity for NYC in leading the way.
- Green NYC buildings.
- Constantly remind everyone what’s really at stake with affordable housing.
- Repeal rent decontrol.
- Develop great teachers and supportive parents.
- Great pay and city benefits for great teachers.
- Ending the Middle School nightmare and other disincentives of public schools.
- More ball fields for Downtown Brooklyn schools.
- Cut military budgets not school budgets.
- CUNY school-fare not warfare.
- No fare hikes!
- Transit-fare not warfare.
- Bail out people getting to work and their favorite places.
- Put a toll on war budgets.
- No service cuts or overcrowding.
- MTA Make-over (reform from “top to bottom”).
- Designate Brooklyn Bridge Park a park and NYC control.
We also have an issue with Biviano’s main campaign tactic — attacking his fellow candidates. Biviano’s main targets have been Levin, Simon and Thies. He feels that he needs to try to tear down the three front runners to have any chance. (That’s our job. Not his.) To do this, he has adopted a “Rage Against the Machine” approach. But in truth, it only works for Levin — “Vito Lopez’s padawan.” Simon may be an ineffective reformer and just another a politician. She may also have a record of going along with Lopez’s County Committee most of the time. But she is not the Machine’s horse in this race. Therefore, to call her part of the Machine is inaccurate. Similarly, Thies is not the Machine’s candidate. In fact, he has been screwed over by the Machine because Lopez has required Yassky to not endorse Thies in return for the County supporting Yassky’s comptroller bid.
It is easy for Biviano to throw these rocks at the front runners. He has nothing to lose. For reasons that we will get into later, we think that a vote for him or the other also rans puts the District at risk of a Machine victory for Levin. That concern aside, Biviano disappoints. He is a fresh face. He has a great wife and family. But his mastery of the issues is lacking and his negative approach to campaigning has been disappointing.