Dear Councilman Levin:
We know that it is premature to call you that. You still need to go through the general election and get sworn in. But we all know those are mere formalities. You won. Vito Lopez hooked you up every which way from Tuesday: the Zalmanite faction with Rabbi Niederman and UJO, the union endorsements, the Bushwick United Democratic Club. But it would be unfair to say that Lopez won the election for you. The other candidates sliced and diced themselves up to a fair-thee-well. All that, and good honest campaigning on your behalf, won the day. You are to be personally credited with running an honorable campaign. You never went negative. You never took a shot below the belt. That is why we said “we really want to like you.”
The question is, now what? We thought that we would give you a few suggestions for your new office:
1. Don’t move out of Greenpoint. We took you to task during the campaign for moving into the District immediately around the time you decided to run. The fact remains, however, that you moved to a hard-scrabble section — not the toney areas like Brooklyn Heights and Boerum Hill. Greenpoint needs you. Stay there. Live among the working-class people who you promised to help in your campaign. Live near the environmental challenges that define that community. Be one of the people.
2. Tackle Traffic & Residential Parking. You are probably in the best position to help advance legislation in both the council and Albany to get the ball rolling on real solutions to the traffic problems in Downtown Brooklyn. Get a residential parking program in place for Brooklyn Heights. Work to achieve traffic calming there and in Boerum Hill. If you get real results, the residents will realize that you are much more than Vito Lopez’s surrogate.
3. Don’t Fold On Atlantic Yards. You have the real opportunity to curb the excesses of Atlantic Yards. You should work with Lopez to make this happen. On December 31st, Ratner’s tax-free financing is going to go “poof.” You need to use that opportunity to force a re-orienting of the proposed arena so that eminent domain is not needed. You also need to bring about a contextual re-working of the plan to integrate it into the surrounding communities.
4. Keep Your Campaign Promises. You ran on the need for senior housing and early education. Both are desperately needed. Senior citizens cannot survive in this town living at the whim of private landlords. They deserve to grow old in dignity and security. Also, working families cannot make it without better childcare options. Families must survive on two incomes. Single-parent homes face even greater challenges. We need quality childcare and early education opportunities to make it.
We know that there are going to be a million “asks” from the Satmar community. They just got the Holy Grail – Broadway Triangle. Think about the rest of us. Focus on our issues and prove the doubters wrong about you. You will be doing yourself and us a big favor. Also, get your moral compass bronzed. We know you already have one but you’re gonna need it handy with where you’re going.
Good luck…and congrats.
Real Reform Brooklyn
For the true junkies, we bring you the DonkeyDemBK Daily Kos endorsement of Evan Thies. On a personal note, we loved following Daily Kos during the Obama campaign. We find the endorsement interesting for the emphasis on campaign infrastructure:
Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 07:28:03 PM PDT
donkeydemBK’s diary :: ::
In the 33rd district I like Evan Thies. I like the fact the former Yassky chief of staff has the guts to stand up to corrupt machine politicians. His campaign is very well organized and he seems like the best shot to stop Steven Levin, who in my view is purely an extension of corrupt assemblyman Vito Lopez.
To read more about his efforts to push back against the machine, check out this piece in The New York Observer.
You should also look at the following comment posted on the Daily Kos site:
“Gotta admire his determination…
One of his supporters came by last weekend and spent 30 minutes talking to us about the campaign, then had Evan call the same day and spent another 30 minutes.
by cbastian on Sun Sep 06, 2009 at 08:51:48 PM PDT”
We have only seen similar comments about the Levin operation. Nothing of the sort for Simon.
Keeping It Real
Tell young padawan that I want to see him, now.
A few days ago Borough President Marty Markowitz announced that he was in favor of the Broadway Triangle rezoning and Stephen Levin — a two for one sale. Markowitz praised Levin for being more concerned with results than process. The subtext is that Marty thinks that Levin has learned not to be concerned with community-based planning. Marty knows all about that with Atlantic Yards. The fact that Levin has apparently learned this lesson early in life is a plus for the party hacks. We think that rings warning bells about deeper issues with young Levin.
The fact is that Levin has gotten to witness a whole lot of shenanigans while worshiping at Vito Lopez’s feet. Of course, he now knows how to cut a sweetheart $45,000,000 no-bid development deal. And, how to quietly slip $100,000,000 tax breaks into legislation on Atlantic Yards. But there is also how to run unqualified judges for the bench, get jobs for family members, and how to exact retribution on your enemies. We wanted to take a look at some of them to see what the young padawan may have learned from the Dark Side:
- Lopez’s Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council pays his girlfriend, Angela Battaglia, $108,593 a year for 25 hours of work her per week. Times-Union, June 11, 2006.
- Lopez arranged a $55,000 state grant to the Bushwick Observer, a paper criticized for its slanted reporting of him. Daily News, November 30, 2006.
- Lopez got Pataki to nominate his Lopez’s daughter, Gina Marie Lopez-Summa, to be a judge with the Court of Claims as payback for Lopez backing Pataki’s re-election. New York Post, September 18, 2006. Lopez got Governor Patterson to reappoint his daughter even though Spitzer refused to do so. Daily News, April 14, 2008. Lopez previously got his daughter appointed general counsel to the Division of Human rights for backing Pataki in 1998. Daily News, September 19, 2006.
- Lopez backed his girlfriend’s brother, Jack Battaglia, for a seat on the Kings County Supreme Court over more qualified lawyers. Daily News, September 18, 2006.
- Lopez backed Richard Velasquez for a judgeship even though the New York City Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association from him unqualified. Velasquez had worked for Lopez’s girlfriend, Angela Battaglia, at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. New York Post, February 15, 2009.
- Lopez backed Judge ShawnDya Simpson for Surrogate Court over reform Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres (no relation) even though Simpson’s family’s primary residence was in New Jersey. Village Voice, July 31, 2007. Lopez also fought Lopez-Torres all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the way party hacks select judges. Lopez originally went to war with Judge Lopez-Torres because she would not hire Vito’s daughter as a clerk.
- Lopez backed anti-gay and completely unqualified candidate for the bench, now-Judge Noach Dear, even though Lopez promised that the Party’s judicial screening panel would only back candidates that were deemed qualified. Daily News, September 25, 2007 and October 30, 2007.
- Lopez is alleged to have demanded the resignation of MTA Chief Elliot Sander for not promoting Lopez’s son-in-law to a higher paying position. The MTA Inspector General is now investigating the allegations. Daily News, May 12, 2009.
Some will take us to task for trying to paint Levin with Lopez’s brush – especially on the judgeships. But Levin touts as his prior experience “having worked on various judicial campaigns…” Brooklyn Paper, January 28, 2008. According to NYS Board of Elections Financial Disclosure Reports, Levin also received over $4,000 in consultant fees and reimbursements between 2004 and 2007 from the “Friends of Vito Lopez” for political work on behalf of his master.
The bottom line is that you cannot separate Levin from Lopez in this race. And, it is dangerous to do otherwise. As the Village Voice observed, Lopez “would love to add the council district to his direct sphere of influence. Lopez’s enthusiasm for this race is so contagious that Levin is already the second of the party boss’s aides to consider running for the seat.” Village Voice, July 2, 2008. Or as political consultant extraordinaire Hank Sheinkopf has put it, “Vito Lopez’s prestige is on the line because his chief of staff is in the race.” Daily News, February 1, 2009. For more recent stuff. See Tom Robbin’s new piece in the Village Voice.
Real Reform Brooklyn
Postscript: We also caution those who think, as one blogger said, that Levin “may” turn out to be his own man. The fact is that Levin has not given us any reason to think that this will be the case. He has said that he has no problem be identified as Vito’s guy. He runs his campaign from a remote headquarters inside Vito’s political club and outside the 33rd District. And, he has never done anything to indicate that he holds any position, belief or thought independent from his master. The chance that he “may” turn out to be his own man is just too much of a risk for us to take.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 11211, 11222, 33rd District, Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn Democratic Committee, Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Evan Thies, Jo Anne Simon, Stephen Levin, Vito Lopez, Williamsburg