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Locals protest Gentile over staffer’s harassment allegations

Standing together: Community members gathered outside Councilman Vincent Gentile’s office to support his former staffer, Michael Bistreich, who is suing the term-limited councilman for discrimination and harrassment.
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Community members rallied outside Councilman Vincent Gentile’s Bay Ridge office on Feb. 20 to show solidarity for the lawmaker’s former staffer Michael Bistreich, who is suing the term-limited democrat alleging that his former colleagues made fun of his Asperger’s syndrome and even left mutilated stuffed animals on his desk to get under his skin. About 20 protestors came armed with plush toys that they used as props before donating them to local children as a way of creating good from allegations.

“Take something that is negative and flip it on its head. What happened to [Bistreich] was wrong, evil — end of story,” said organizer and Dyker Heights resident Raymond Ranaletta. “But there’s a bright side to it too, to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.”

Bistreich, who is suing the city for $10 million, said he was humbled by the outpouring of support and that Gentile should be held to a higher standard because he is an elected official.

“It felt amazing to know that someone from the community, and the community, cared enough to stand up for the rights of a disabled worker,” said Bistreich. “It made me feel great to know that people cared about this issue that they care about the rights of disabled workers and are willing to stand up against discrimination and harassment. People will not tolerate it, even if it comes from an elected official, especially if it comes from an elected official — who is supposed to uphold virtuous characteri­stics.”

Gentile, who is leaving office next year because of term limits, did not respond to a request for comment. City lawyers have said the claims are not substantial and do not rise to the level of harassment.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, February 23, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Lucy Warren says:
I'm sorry, but this is all made up. He was bad at doing his job and acted weirdly. He's made up the discrimination allegations to cover his shame at not being able to handle the work.
I'm sorry he has a disease, but he needs to find a job he can actually do.
Feb. 23, 8:41 am
Bruce from Bay Ridge says:
When I first read your comment I thought you were talking about Vinny.
Feb. 23, 8:50 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Makes you miss Anthony Weiner.
Feb. 23, 10:46 am
Dario from Sunset Park says:
He doesn't have a disease. He has a disability that shouldn't be mocked and he shouldn't be mistreated. That is beyond rude, just like the person you are attempting to protect.
Feb. 23, 1:11 pm
Ralph from Dyker Heights says:
Gentile sexually harassed a male staffer then hired phony Justin Brenan to keep the press away. Then he torments this poor kid Mike. There's a special place in hell for Gentile. He hired phony Brenan again after he fired Mike
Feb. 23, 1:44 pm
Holly Wright from Park Slope says:
Dario - it's neither. Aspergers is a made up condition to excuse the bad behavior of weirdos. There's no cause, no test, and no proof that it exists!
Feb. 23, 2:27 pm
Dario from Sunset Park says:
Holly- take a look in the mirror
Feb. 24, 12:10 pm
Stacey Loo says:
Dario from Sunset Park - are you making fun of Aspergers? Is it just a joke for you? Are you making fun of a woman for being disabled?!
Feb. 24, 2:36 pm
Frank from Bay Ridge says:
I stopped into Mr Gentiles office a couple of
years back. I had lost my job after 25 years and stopped in to ask some questions about any help that might be available to me as my unemployment had expired. The Staffers that
were there were (kids compared to myself)
rude and abrupt.
I have resided in Bay Ridge my whole life (over
50 years). I should of been treated with a little more respect and assistance as should anyone else whom needs help or works there!
Good luck Michael and Adios to all them. His term ending can't come soon enough!
March 2, 2:46 pm

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