Brooklyn politics

Cheers…um, you are over 21, right?

Borough President Marty Markowitz was feeling festive on New Year’s Eve.

Gliding through the crowd gathered for the big countdown at Grand Army Plaza, with staff photographer Kathryn Kirk in tow, and a bottle of champagne and party cups at the ready, the now three-term borough president merrily doled out a bit of bubbly to cold and wet 2010 revelers.

But it was only after the borough prez took to the stage, however – boasting that the evening’s free champagne was the same kind President Barack Obama sipped when he won the White House last year – that “Party Marty” remembered to warn all those imbibing that they must be over 21 to enjoy a toast.

Oops! Oh, well … here’s to 2010.

Musical chairs in

North Brooklyn

As City Council members are preparing to ring in the new year at City Hall there have been several significant staff changes taking place over the past month.

Courier Life has learned that Council member-elect Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg) will be retaining Yassky constituent liaisons Rami Metal and Marian Wood to serve in their same role. Levin is also adding Hope Reichbach, who once sued Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield while she was in high school, as his communications liaison, though he has not chosen a new chief of staff. Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg) has not yet announced Levin’s replacement as Chief of Staff, though sources indicate that senior liaison Allison Frost, former campaign manager for Maritza Davila, is a leading candidate.

Council member-elect Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) also announced that Rachel Goodman will be his Chief of Staff and Michael Freedman-Schnapp a co-chair of Williamsburg-based Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, will serve as his Legislative and Policy Director.

Some reelected Council members such as Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) have not announced a Chief of Staff hiring, though Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) has promoted constituent liaison and former campaign manager Antonio Reynoso as her Chief of Staff, while adding campaign consultant Bennett Baruch as her Deputy Chief of Staff.

Inauguration after parties draw pols

Newly inaugurated city leaders Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill De Blasio drew several well-known Brooklyn leaders to their post-inaugural celebrations on January 1st which coincidentally were scheduled at the same time.

At Council member John Liu’s party at 60 Centre Street, Speaker Christine Quinn said a few brief words introducing the Comptroller, though she was joined by Council member Letitia James (D-Fort Greene), Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene) and State Senators Malcolm Smith (D-Ridgewood) and John Sampson (D-Canarsie), who supported his bid to be the city’s chief financial officer.

At De Blasio’s party on 31 Chambers Street, it was mostly Brooklynites and union reps. Council member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) stopped by De Blasio’s after party to wish the man who he is replacing good luck. Council member Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg) came by too, as did several Working Families Party leaders, including Dan Cantor and Dorothy Siegel, who backed De Blasio early in his bid to be Public Advocate.

Half an hour after the inauguration concluded, De Blasio ascended the staircase and thanked supporters in the room for making his campaign possible.

“Continue partying!” said De Blasio. And they did.

Inauguration lineup

As 2010 unfolds, we’ll be curious to see if the impromptu seating arrangements at the inauguration will hold any weight on future alliances.

Seated behind the dais, all in a row, was City Councilmembers Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island), Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush) and now ex-councilman Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park). On the other end of the row was — from the left — City Councilmembers Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights), Letitia James (D-Fort Greene), Al Vann (D-Bedford Stuyvesant) Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge), Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) and Mathieu Eugene (D-East Flatbush).

Since he was sitting at the end of the row, Recchia was one of the first to shake Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s hands as they walked down the aisle to get sworn in before a crowd of more than 2,000.

There were several Brooklyn City Councilmembers who were not in attendance, and their absence spoke volumes, although we should note that the council is invited but not required to attend.

City Councilmembers Charles Barron (D-East New York), who is running for Speaker, Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) and Lew Fidler (D-Mill Basin) were all no-shows.

Speaking of Fidler…

No, City Councilmember Lew Fidler wasn’t stuck in traffic. Nor was his subway car hijacked.

Instead, he opted against going to the inauguration. But that’s ok since he hasn’t been to one of them since Ed Koch was running the city.

“It’s too cold,” he said. “You’ve got a better seat in front of my television.”

But it’s not like he’s ruled them out entirely.

“The next inauguration I go to will be the one where the person putting his hand on the Bible at some point turns around and says ‘I want to thank Lew Fidler for getting me here.’”

That definitely wasn’t going to happen on New Year’s Day, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg was sworn in for his third term. Fidler, a longtime critic of the Mayor, was behind William Thompson 100 percent during his near win against Bloomberg in November.

But, four years from now? Who knows. Fidler could be seated in the front row.

Steaming Jumanee

It seems that City Councilmember Jumanee Williams (D-Flatbush) certainly knows that the best way to get to a woman’s heart is with coffee — especially on a cold New Year’s Day.

Political insiders couldn’t help but smile when they spotted the new legislator take it upon himself to get big orange go-cups of coffee for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and fellow Brooklyn Delegation member Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) during the Jan. 1 inauguration, right before the pomp and circumstance was about to start.

Now we’re sure he had the best of intentions, but, hey, getting coffee for the City Council Speaker can’t hurt, can it?

Bloomberg tours Ridge

Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose a Bay Ridge eatery to announce both the results of the city’s efforts in the tourism industry and his own New Year’s resolution: “To watch my weight.”

Indeed, hizzoner told a bevy of journalists gathered in the Greenhouse Café, Third Avenue and 77th Street in Bay Ridge, that, “Clearly, my staff is trying to make that as tough as possible, right at the get-go, by having this event here.”

Despite a lavish spread of some of the restaurant’s specialties, and despite expressing enthusiasm for the restaurant’s offerings, Bloomberg showed admirable restraint, remarking, “I must taste the calamari,” and plucking only a single piece of the desired treat from a chafing dish before departing.

While Bloomberg may have nibbled on the calamari, he refused to bite at the bait offered by one reporter in the crowd, who asked for his response to the announcement by newly elected Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a Brooklynite, that his office would work with activists around the city, teaching them community organizing skills, and aiding them to “build grassroots coalitions so they can have a greater impact on all levels of government.”

“You’ll have to ask the public advocate what he wants to do,” Bloomberg responded. “He’s perfectly capable of speaking for himself.

“Till I know what it is, I can’t have a reaction to it,” he added, when pressed for his opinion, telling the group that he didn’t know the details of de Blasio’s plan.

Kruger’s challenger

A tuned-in politico says maneuvers are already underway to mount a solid challenger to State Senator Carl Kruger, who recently found himself in the news for being the lone Brooklyn Democrat to vote against gay marriage. “You may see the conscription of a reasonably popular businessman in that district,” the person said. “If you have the people who know how to do it, you have a shot at getting someone else elected.” The source said the challenger will not be a predictable elected official, and those looking for a challenger are particularly rankled by Kruger’s vote — though they have not necessarily been public about their ire. “They are looking to construct a candidate rather than get another candidate to get in that office,” the person said.

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