April 21, 2009 / Politics / Perspective / The Politicrasher

Candidates to succeed Yassky yawn it out in Brooklyn Heights

The Brooklyn Paper
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The seven candidates to succeed David Yassky and represent Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and part of Park Slope in the City Council have got to do better than this.

Monday night’s candidate forum held by the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats and the Independent Neighborhood Democrats was the latest in a seemingly endless series of mirth-free events that are doing more to drive people away from the political process than towards it.

The main problem is that the candidates differ little on substance, leaving an audience member to ponder the not-so-subtle, and not-so-appealing, differences in each candidate’s style.

Isaac Abraham, a Hasidic activist from Williamsburg, spent much of the night describing himself as an omnipresent “fixer” who doesn’t care how many people he has pissed off — and would seek to piss off if elected. Gays will probably want to get first in line; Abraham is the only candidate who opposes gay marriage.

But Abraham is ultimately a crowd pleaser, a political tummler, if you will. You want passionate anger, Ken Baer is your man. The former Sierra Club chairman spent most of the St. Francis College forum getting so worked up about the current — and, sometimes inept — state of land-use planning in this city that he was practically spitting.

Doug Biviano, the newest candidate in the now-seven-person race, emphasized how much “fun” democracy can be when everyone participates. It was sometimes hard to tell if he was running for City Council or the social committee.

Jo Anne Simon spent much of the night projecting an air of calm, intelligent professionalism, even sensibly saying that she wanted more time to study whether the Gowanus Canal should be made a federal Superfund site while her opponents rushed to support federal intervention (despite its mixed record).

Evan Thies, who has not earned Yassky’s endorsement, despite working as his primary aide for five years, came off as the wonkiest of the bunch, pitching proposals for mandatory affordable housing and ticking off his credentials.

Steve Levin, who is chief of staff to Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Vito Lopez, was his usual self: He didn’t bother to show up.

And Ken Diamondstone, who called out two candidates (though not by name, alas) as being too close to Lopez, came off as a man without an issue — except his hatred for the party chair and his “gross machine.”

Still, there were some highlights that made it all worthwhile:

Most over-enthusiastic reaction to a boring all-day event: Biviano, still channeling Julie from “The Love Boat,” said he would try to convene events like state Sen. Daniel Squadron’s district-wide convention earlier this year. “He really knocked it out of the park for Democracy,” Biviano said.

Best faux pas of the night: Baer, an accountant by trade, said there were four reasons he was running: “1. Community control over development. 2. Improving public schools. 3. Protecting the water supply.” But lest one think that Baer is running a crooked accounting firm, he did get to his fourth reason during his closing statement: “creating jobs and improving the economy.”

Most radical idea of the night: Biviano’s call for the community boards to have a veto power over all land-use and rezoning proposals came out of nowhere. So if you think your local community board, which doesn’t have a budget to independently review the land-use proposals and whose members are very often appointed as paybacks by the borough president and city councilmembers, should be able to veto the Council, the City Planning Commission and the mayor, then Biviano is your candidate.

Most tortured syntax of the night: When Isaac Abraham said, “If I had to put it in one word why I’m running for Council is would be this: ‘I’ve been there and done that.”

Most bizarre criticism of a developer: Diamondstone lambasted developer Jed Walentas, who hopes to build an 18-story tower and public middle school near the Brooklyn Bridge, a structure that critics say would forever obscure views of the fabled span. “It’s disturbing that a developer would divide the community by offering us something that we all need,” Diamondstone said.

Yeah, the nerve of that developer for offering us something we all need!

Wherever there is a smoke-filled backroom or a smoke-free barroom, The Brooklyn Paper’s Politicrasher will be there, bringing you the inside dope on our next generation of leaders. Got a hot tip for the Politicrasher? E-mail
Updated 5:12 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated to reflect more information about Ken Baer.
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Reasonable discourse

da from bh says:
Good deal Gersh. I'm becoming a fan. I'm sure Rufis will fire you eventually but I applaud your growing body of work.
April 21, 2009, 1:10 am
Dav from Brooklyn says:
After all I had a good time listing to all candidates. If you relies must of the candidates didn’t have the right and professional answer the only candidate was quick and short to the point is activist Mr. Isaac Abraham his experiences
Helping people and business owners from all race and fighting with the city official’s for the last 35 years. When Isaac Abraham said, “If I had to put it in one word why I’m running for Council is would be this: ‘I’ve been there and done that.’ This is the person we all need for office for the next years to come..
We all say GO ISAAC GO!!!…keep up the good work we all need you...
April 21, 2009, 11:28 am
Sam from Greenpoint says:
I thing it was a pretty good debate not bad at the other hand a lot of the candidates didn’t know what’s flying
Simply didn’t do there home-work. One of the candidates was Isaac Abraham he sounds to be a “sharp shooter”
Having always a quick and professional answer and comments this we all like about him, we all need him in office,
April 21, 2009, 1:06 pm
Joe from Williamsburg says:
I can see that Isaac Abraham is getting all his Hasidic gangsters to indicate support. That is just the problem. He will only be for Hasidic interests. He plants day workers on non-Hasidic property where they cause trouble and then has real estate developers call up and ask if the owners want to sell their property. He is certainly not for "all races." Additionally, he, as with the rest of the Hasidics, dislikes artists and his Christian neighbors. He does not recognize the laws of the land unless forced. A politician who does not recognize equal rights for all and is only for his own kind is NOT what we want representing us!
April 21, 2009, 2:07 pm
Sam from Williamsburg says:
Joe from Williamsburg says “I don’t see” first of all why did you call Hasidic gangsters I never see on the street
Hasidic gangsters. You never going to hear "be careful and cross the street because there is Hasidic gagsters".
If people are struggling every day and trying to make a better living and just feed there families is not necessary
To say and blow it out of proportion.
And by the way you don’t know activist Isaac Abraham soon he will be in office you will get to know him. You
Will be surprise and you will like this person he will never refuse to try to help anybody the same all races etc.
He never asks ho you are and what race and color you are he is helping people for over 35 years so be very careful
And do some home-work before you say something. This is lst.lesson for today..
In any case the other candidates are just starting to learn how to deal with city agencies it’s not dad easy and simple
So my advise go with the winners and the professionals that’s would be Mr. Isaac Abraham….
April 21, 2009, 2:42 pm
Jazz from BKLYN says:
LOL @ Hasidic Gangsters

I actually had a 1 st had exp with them, and its more like a mafia how well organized they are. And yes maybe you are not walking down the street with guns and knifes but you what they say the pen is mightier than the sword and these "Hasidic Gangsters" have proved that point over and over. Using the pen to change and control many aspects in their neighborhoods in Brooklyn. I live in Boro Park and these "gangsters" have done so much damage to the face of the neighborhood and have socially exiled all the "goyims" their word for non hasidic believers that going in these towns you would be lost and helpless. Trying buying from their stores on 13 ave they wont even give you the proper service without the penguin suit. So "pen gangsters" you are, just try going up against one of you...
April 21, 2009, 2:58 pm
April 21, 2009, 3:19 pm
Linda from Brooklyn says:
Jazz I feel your pain I call this a very organized community a care about each another. My only question to you is
Why you choose to live in this neighborhood? The answer is you like the people and it’s a safe community
Your kids are in a safe environment. Yes must of the people are doing business or doctors and lawyers etc. So let’s don’t shift to a different direction would you go to a good doctor or a small doctor with no experiences?
You know the answer the answer is September ‘15 experiences and professional activist for 35 years Mr. Isaac Abraham….
April 21, 2009, 3:35 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Peter from Clinton hill just for your information stave Levine works for Vito Lopez people and the people don’t like this men especially the Latino community they would like to see this person out of office a long time.
Did you know why stave Levine didn’t show up because he is far from being a student he is just a puppet from his bus Vito Lopez whatever he is telling him that’s is not the person we need in office, my advise let him go and run in his district maybe he will have a chance… Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Boram Hill, Brooklyn hights, all say GO ISAAC GO!! Keep up your good work….
April 21, 2009, 4:12 pm
peter from clinton hill says:
hey joe.
intesting imfo I have my car wash business in bushwick & 85% of my workers are latinos .they are all for vito, they idel him .well its no secret whare ever you go in bushwick their is good & nice developments built or being built and all this is under the ledership of lopez & staff and as I hear he is not finished yet,so get your facts straight.
well after this so called debate i quite understand why he didt show up.
April 21, 2009, 5:20 pm
The Truth from Fulton Ferry says:
We are doomed. Total nonsense above.
April 21, 2009, 5:39 pm
chester copperpot from bk heights says:
Levin is a pawn. Guys is a good kid stuck in Vitos grasp. Lets be honest hell probably win and the people of that community will get horrible indirect representation in the city council by vito j lopez. who will give two sh*ts about that district. only shot is if joanne simon can get the other reformer cancidates out of the race or levin wins by all the vote splitting going on.
April 21, 2009, 6:23 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
While the candidates running to replace City Councilman David Yassky (33rd District) may not differ as much on substance as they conceivably might, the candidate forum evening could hardly be considered a “yawn” given the candidates’ pretty much universal objections to the current administration’s development policies and big project initiatives. Isn’t Bloomberg’s ability to create such unity a fascination in itself?

The candidates were nearly unanimous in opposing; Atlantic Yards as the worst most destructive project in Brooklyn, opposing housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park, opposing the Walentas Dock Street project near the Brooklyn Bridge, wanting a federal superfund cleanup of the Gowanus Canal and in calling for stronger community boards and a stronger City Council. How can such clearly marshaled opposition to the status quo be boring? Or is the Brooklyn Paper’s message simply this: Strong opposition realistically means nothing because: 1.) the office of the mayor is supreme over the City Council, and 2.) Bloomberg’s claim to the mayoralty is not subject to practical political challenge?

Michael D. D. White
Noticing New York
April 21, 2009, 11:07 pm
Tim from Greenpoint says:
Guys it’s about time to stand up and face the fact must of the candidates didn’t know the right answer didn’t fully study what is the responsibility
Of being elected for city council, you have to be involved like activist “ Mr. Isaac Abraham” with every aspect and problems witch we face each and every day, he is and always be the caring person not only for his community he proofed already for the last 35 years,
So I am strung and positive he is the person and will prove everybody and serving his people and fight for them as long he will be in office so we all say he is and be the right Candida for city council in 33rd district,
April 22, 2009, 12:36 am
The Truth from Fulton Ferry says:
I hope "Mr. Isaac Abraham" is strong on education. His supporters could surely use some spelling and grammar lessons!
April 22, 2009, 7:46 am
Mitch from Brooklyn says:
I agree with you the spelling may be better. At the other hand the people and politician likes his statement and comments like always. Never takes no for an answer no matter what, so we all say GO ISAAC GO!!!
April 22, 2009, 2:19 pm
A O from BKLYN says:
Too bad no one really reads these comments or Issac would be head in the polls. But as they say you attract your liking so it only leads me to believe that Isaac has horrible grammar and spelling and probably cant read too well... either that or you have to be an idiot to support Issac!
April 22, 2009, 4:10 pm
Larry from Brooklyn says:
A O from Brooklyn I feel your pain let me tell you something in the polls as of today is Mr. Isaac Abraham # 1
So you still have a chance and go with the winners,,
April 22, 2009, 5:49 pm
Goyo from Los Sures says:
The Hussies are for the Hussies!
April 28, 2009, 12:33 am

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