Councilman Carlos Menchaca ousted as co-chair of Brooklyn Council delegation

Brooklyn pols: Red Hook councilman unfit to lead

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A freshman councilman is out as leader of the Brooklyn Council delegation after a coup by his colleagues.

Pols ousted first-term Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) and replaced him with Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) on Thursday. Treyger said the group that voted Menchaca out thought he had failed as a leader, but stopped short of saying he shared their view.

“There was a lot of frustration expressed by many people that things that should have been happening were not happening,” he said. “I’m not looking to assign blame. Sometimes it’s an issue of chemistry.”

Lawmakers were angry that Menchaca didn’t schedule regular meetings, and the delegation hadn’t convened since early September, Treyger said.

The Council delegation is tasked with representing the borough during citywide budget negotiations, and makes appointments to agencies such as the Economic Development Corporation. One councilman who was in the room on Thursday said the delegation had missed the opportunity to make several appointments as months went by without a meeting.

The insurgent pols spared delegation chairwoman Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D– Crown Heights), indicating that they called the vote with the intention of unseating Menchaca.

The apparent coup comes on the heels of a spat between Menchaca and the mayor’s office over a $115-million development project at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park, which was scuttled after Menchaca demanded more control over the process. The Economic Development Corporation pulled the plug and called Menchaca’s demands “confounding,” according to a Crain’s New York Business report.

Menchaca has championed community input in municipal projects, even such minor ones as installing bathrooms in a Red Hook park, which he nixed after local gadflies complained the loos would take up precious green space at a series of meetings.

Menchaca’s ouster comes shortly before the beginning of the citywide budgeting process, and observers speculate that delegates were worried that Menchaca’s soured relationship with city leadership would get in the way of negotiating for the borough’s best interest. Treyger didn’t want to touch that conjecture with a 10-foot pole.

“My role in accepting the nomination has nothing to do with that,” he said.

Menchaca has not shied away from controversy in his first year in office. In the Assembly primary Menchaca backed political neophyte Cesar Zuniga against incumbent Felix Ortiz (D–Red Hook). At a victory party, Ortiz laughed heartily when a pal made a joke in Spanish about Menchaca not having testicles, and Ortiz seems to maintain the grudge, tweeting his congratulations to Treyger and Mealy on Thursday.

Treyger said that Menchaca represents his district, but not Brooklyn as a whole.

“Councilman Menchaca has every right to advocate for his district,” said Treyger. “We have to look out for our districts, but we also have to make sure that the needs of the borough are addressed.”

The Red Hook pol is a member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, as was Bill DeBlasio when he was a councilman, and of the New Kings Democrats, which formed to challenge the entrenched Democratic political machine in Brooklyn. The head of the New Kings Democrats decried Menchaca’s removal, comparing it with the back-room maneuvering that put Assemblyman Carl Heastie (D–the Bronx) in the Speaker seat with little public debate six days after Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (D–Manhattan) stepped down over his indictment on corruption charges.

“Mostly we’re distressed that the process was so un-transparent, and we were already coming off a week where the leadership in Albany was chosen behind closed doors,” Andrew Sloat said. “We had higher hopes for a progressive bastion like Brooklyn.”

A spokesman for Menchaca declined to comment.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
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Reader Feedback

Tweed, William Tweed from Greenwood says:
Wow, what happened somebody took away their slush funds (aka discretionary aka member items)?Follow the money...

LATimes May 2014:

Both the state and New York City have budget processes that allow elected officials to direct funds to certain groups. In a sense, this is logical, as local elected officials know their districts and where money can be best spent. But that’s also led to politicians funneling money to political cronies and, in some cases, their own pockets.

Since 2010, at least eight New York legislators or their affiliated charities have been investigated, charged or convicted of stealing public funds.
Feb. 6, 10:49 am
Mark from Park Slope says:
Tweed, get it straight. New York CITY COUNCIL still has discretionary funding. New York STATE LEGISLATURE discretionary funding was effectively stolen by the Governor who is busy scattering it like candy around Rochester and Buffalo for upstate votes. It's a shame you're looking to the LA Times for information you should know about your own city! (It's also no surprise they would get it wrong.)

As for this "coup"... this is a power play for a nothing group that is trying to become powers by banding together to take "Brooklyn" positions when they are all competing for their individual districts. Leader of the Brooklyn Delegation is not a big deal, and they left Darlene Mealey in place! (Do your own homework and look up her record to find out what that means.)

Menchaca stood up for his constituents, and that's all I care about, not the scurryings of some wannabe powerbrokers. For Brooklyn to be strong and not be a puppet to the Mayor or vested Manhattan interests we need more like Menchaca!
Feb. 6, 12:18 pm
Mike from Upper (Very Upper) East Side says:
the reason the council still has slush funds is because they disenfranchised the voters of NYC and gave Bloomberg a third term.
Feb. 6, 1:11 pm
Harry from Bklyn Hts says:
Really, Mike? I don't recall Bloomberg ever trying to end discretionary spending. I remember that bribe being basically "You let me have a 3rd and I'll let you have a 3rd."
Feb. 6, 1:46 pm
Phil from Sunset Park says:
menchaca's a joke.
so many in the community are fed up with him, but his vocal supporters in the twittersphere create this false sense of popularity.
Feb. 6, 8:20 pm
Foot Doctor from Sunset Park says:
Andrew Sloat complains the process took place behind closed doors?

What difference does it make if Menchaca never shows. He hasnt had a meeting in six months. Its easy to oust a no show.

Menchaca is following in the tradition of Sarah Gonzalez. Must be great to have a pay check that shows up even if you don't.
Feb. 7, 11:19 am
Menchaca too away jobs and money from his own di from Menchaca should think about jobs before filling up his pocket says:
This Menchaca is a big mouth who does not know what he is talking about.

The more he talks, the less sense he makes.

This is proof that an idiot can get elected.

Menchaca needs to think about jobs in the area before putting money in his pocket.
Feb. 7, 1:13 pm
Elliot from Cardboard Box says:
Menchaca is better off not showing up.
Feb. 7, 5:02 pm
Sal from Dyker Heights says:
I guess the "Progressive" agenda does not include progress.
Feb. 7, 6:59 pm
Dr Watson from Scotland Yard says:
Has anyone seen Menchaca?
Feb. 7, 9:18 pm
Susan from Sunset Park says:
Angel Rodriguez was the last hard working councilman we had.

Is he out yet?
Feb. 8, 12:51 am
Pedro from Crown Heights says:
any way to recall this do nothing hack?

are we stuck with Menchacaca for two more years?
Feb. 8, 10:33 pm
John from Bay Ridge says:
Carlos is very focused on "process", and his version of it requires lengthy community input. The problem is that the input is put forth unfiltered by him as the basis for making, or not making, decisions. Carlos isn't leading or thinking, he's following an organizer's cookbook. He's wrapped firmly around his own axle and can't get anything accomplished.
Feb. 9, 10:17 am
Mike from Park Slope says:
"Angel Rodriguez was the last hard working councilman we had."

Yeah, except for those years in prison for extortion!

You are so lucky to have Menchaca!
Feb. 9, 11:47 am
ginnie from Sunset park says:
Mr. Menchaca is solely focused on his image and has done nothing for Sunset Park. He posts on facebook, twitter, and sends emails to his exclusive list. Should one make a less than glowing comment on any of these sites he deletes them.

He has been absent from Sunset Park and clearly believes he only represents himself and Red Hook.
Feb. 9, 1:01 pm
Scott from Bay Ridge says:
Menchaca's agenda is Menchaca.

Thats obvious.
Feb. 9, 9:38 pm
Regina from Gravesend says:
Mencaca is no Recchia
Feb. 9, 11:41 pm
Character Assassination from Bay Ridge says:
Let's see...a City Councilman who has been universally hailed as one of the bright lights of the freshmen has the courage to tell the Economic Development Corporation to jump in the lake about a secret deal that would have benefited wealthy owners and gentrified the neighborhood, and now a goon squad is jumping him on a Comment board.

No, nothing suspicious about that, is there?

And the only bright light is typist/comedienne Regina..."Menchaca is no Recchia"! That's hysterical! And thank god he ain't!
Feb. 10, 12:10 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
I have to agree with Character Assassination. All of these panning Menchaca are reading out of the same playbook, decided on at the last super-triple-secret political club meeting they had. Take care, trolls, this is the 21st century and the 4th decade of the Information Revolution; the kind of thing you're doing here is increasingly leading to blowback.
Feb. 13, 3:53 pm
Chaz Former and Future SP Resident from SP says:
Grew up in Sunset Park and I was making plans to move back here. Then I saw what Menchaca did to the Marine Terminal deal. No way this guy is pro growth and pro jobs. That's the real definition of "progress". All he cares about is getting his "progressive" hands on things that don't belong to him. The city funds for the Marine Terminal belong to all the people of NYC. It's not his to totally control. So the mayor who represents all the people of NYC takes the money and spends it on job creation elsewhere.

Menchaca is clueless.
Feb. 17, 4:39 pm

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