Scandal-scarred Assemblyman Vito Lopez made sure that the meeting where his successor will be selected will be in a hard-to-reach spot of Southern Brooklyn, claim Brownstone Brooklyn Democratic district leaders who say the beleaguered boss is trying to disenfranchise their votes.
For the last several years the meeting where Democratic district leaders select a new chairman has been in St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, but this year’s meeting — slated for Sept. 19 — will be held at Kingsborough Community College, about a half-mile from the Sheepshead Bay Road B/Q stop.
Meeting attendees commuting by public transit will have to take the train and then hop on a bus before landing at the Manhattan Beach community college, griped Northern Brooklyn district leaders who found it odd that the meeting change takes place as Southern Brooklyn Democratic district leader Frank Seddio is the frontrunner in the race to replace Lopez.
“This is yet another power grab by longtime kingpin of Brooklyn,” said Democratic district leader Lincoln Restler (D–Williamsburg). “It is wildly inappropriate to hold this meeting one mile from the nearest subway entrance.”
According to Restler and Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg), holding the meeting so far from where many Brooklynites can access it is evidence that, while Lopez’s power has taken a significant hit in the wake of his sexual harassment scandal, he isn’t quite done throwing his weight around.
Yet Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park), one of the few Lopez supporters left, scoffed at the idea that the Dem boss was trying to stick it to Brownstone district leaders by moving the meeting.
“We’re a very big borough and there’s no one location that’s good for everyone all the time,” said Fidler. “St. Francis has absolutely no parking and Kingsborough has a huge parking lot. Anyone who went to the trouble to get on the ballot to get elected isn’t going to have trouble getting to a different part of the borough.”
The meeting is open to the public, but all of the action will take place behind closed doors.
Immediately after the public portion of the meeting is done, district leaders will go into a private session to elect Lopez’s replacement.
Names that have been bandied about include Seddio, “reformer” district leader Jo Anne Simon, and Assemblyman Karim Camara (D–Crown Heights).
Lopez agreed to step down as party boss after he was censured for allegedly groping, attempting to kiss, and starting sexually charged discussions with female staffers.
He remains on the Assembly ticket and ran unopposed in this week’s primary.