Vito’s power grab

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Here it comes, folks — an editorial about a district leader race.

Wait, don’t turn the page! For once, a contest for the obscure, unpaid, rarely challenged job of state committeemember is actually important this year.

Yes, we see you reaching for the corner of the page, but before you flip, consider this: If we don’t fix the bottom rung of electoral politics in this borough, we’ll never solve the truly big problems.

So come on, give us a couple of minutes on this one, won’t you? We promise, it won’t hurt.

Here’s the situation: Each party has two district leaders — a man and a woman — for each Assembly district in the state. These district leaders don’t do much except pick poll workers and help get candidates on the ballot — oh, and they also help rig the political game against anyone who might challenge the county’s party chairman.

For the Democrats, that’s the thuggish Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Lopez is solid on legislation in Albany. But his real game is consolidating power locally so he can have a say in who gets the patronage jobs, which contractors get the city contracts, and which developers have to kowtow to the non-profit groups that he controls.

But in order to do all that, Lopez has to remain county boss — and for that, he needs district leaders who march in lockstep.

But Vito’s problem is that two district leaders in Brownstone Brooklyn — Jo Anne Simon and Alan Fleischman — don’t ask, “How high?” when he says, “Jump.”

Simon and Fleischman bucked Lopez when he picked party hacks for the Surrogate’s Court. They stood against Lopez when he tried to get an unqualified person on the Board of Elections. And they fought him when he tried to put the scabrous Noach Dear on the bench without a judicial screening panel.

That may not sound like a big deal, but no leader — from the White House down to Vito Lopez’s clubhouse in Bushwick — should surround himself with loyalists who are too afraid for their jobs to question poor decisions.

But that’s what Lopez wants. To challenge Simon and Fleischman, Lopez is backing two newcomers. Maybe that’s politics, but we’d prefer if Lopez would find candidates with more experience than Hope Reichbach and Stephen Williamson.

Reichbach is best known as the spokeswoman for Lopez’s protege, Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsbu­rg), and for having a father who is a family friend of Lopez.

And Williamson isn’t known at all.

But what does Lopez care if they have no real experience? He only wants people close to him who owe their careers to the Bushwick puppetmaster.

That makes a mockery of democracy.

So there you have it, folks — our amazing district leader editorial.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Posted 12:00 am, May 13, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Yakkov from Williamsburg says:
Very well spelled out, in the same time there is a race between wrestler vs steve cohen where steve is puppet number two for vito.
And let's hope as reports, that vito himself will have his own challenge and be defeated.
Very important for the democracy in our beloved boro and communities.
Vito is a gang leader aka a godfather who is in control of you every minute of the day and every move you make.
Time everyone should catch this new momentum and send him to his real identified community.
May 13, 2010, 8:37 am
anywho says:
May 13, 2010, 10:14 am
Keith from Greenpoint says:
when will learn that vito lopez is a corrupt leader and his days are numbered the sex abuse laws he opposes will bring him down
May 13, 2010, 11:51 am
Dav from Clintin Hill says:
OH YA… its time to bake the donates… he lost his chance this time, we need somebody with fresh blood working for the communities... he is already to old.....
May 13, 2010, 11:53 am
Ken from Greenpoint says:
So true I just hope it makes a difference that bum.............
May 13, 2010, 2:19 pm
steve from Bushwick says:
its time to vote him out, he is such a trouble maker.........
May 13, 2010, 2:20 pm
Mike Curatore from Carroll Gardens says:
The truth is -- good editorials notwithstanding -- no one cares about these positions as they really don't serve any public purpose whatsoever. Frankly, they should get rid of the District Leader positions entirely. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars for us to support elections for purely partisan positions having no public, only partisan, mandates.
May 13, 2010, 3:40 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
They are unpaid positions.....
May 13, 2010, 6:56 pm
Voter from Park Slope says:
As it stands, neither Fleishman nor Simon have ever had a challenger for their position. Not once. This year, Simon will have to run against lifetime area resident Hope Reichbach. Fleishman, who has a patronage job himself with the Comptroller, will have to run against several candidates, including Stephen Williamson, who is also a lifetime resident of the area, and a partner in a successful law firm that he founded. Fleishman will also have to run against lawyer Jesse Strauss, and possibly Chris Owens, neighborhood activist and son of former congressmen Major Owens. Why not include these other candidates in your screed as well?
May 13, 2010, 7:37 pm
Voter from On the run says:
May 13, 2010, 10:58 pm
activist from Park Slope says:
OK, Voter from PS - you neglect to mention that both Reichbach (who is all of 21 years old) and Williamson both have close ties to Steve Levin, who was Lopez' hand-picked candidate. Reichbach is Levin's communications director, in fact.

You conveniently overlook that Fleishman and Simon have tirelessly stood up for clean, transparent and progressive government in the face of Lopez' imperious rule.

Vito spent a bundle to get Levin elected; I'm sure he's going to go all out trying to rid himself of Fleishman and Simon, who have long been voices for their constituents and thorns in his side. He runs this county like his own personal "family", and they've refused to kiss his ring. They've earned their positions through service to the community. It's a lot of work for little recognition and no recompense.

The community is behind them. I'm not sure whose interests you're looking out for.
May 16, 2010, 7:58 am
Voter from Park Slope says:

Activist, so you speak for "the community" now? It doesn't even seem that Fleishman is running. I guess he didn't want to have to run in his first competitive election. Brooklyn Paper got scooped.
May 16, 2010, 7:59 pm
Fleishman isn't running but Simon is and I hope that all those in this District will now support Chris Owens who will be an excellent replacement for Fleishman.
I have also heard that Lopez is being challenger as County Leader and I hope for the sake of the Borough that he's defeated.
May 16, 2010, 10:21 pm

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