Embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez rushed to the aid of Councilman Lew Fidler when the Marine Park Democratic district leader was misdiagnosed with leukemia in July, the grateful city legislator said this week as he warned colleagues not to judge a book by its cover — even one being investigated for sexually harassing female staffers.
Fidler (DMarine Park) told more than 1,500 Facebook friends on Tuesday night that when his doctors said the anemia he was suffering from might be the onset of the potentially fatal blood disease he turned to Lopez, a leukemia survivor.
Lopez introduced Fidler to the top doctors at Sloan Kettering Hospital, who discovered that the councilman didn’t have leukemia, but the kidney problems he suffered in March during the state senate run he lost to David Storobin had resurfaced.
Fidler was happy that Lopez interceded on his behalf.
“We should never judge someone as all good or all bad,” Fidler said. “Vito did this for me despite the fact that we have had sharp differences in the past.”
Democratic leaders from across the borough have been demanding Lopez step down after he was censured for allegedly groping, attempting to kiss, and starting sexually charged discussions with staffers.
Lopez agreed to give up his position as Democratic party boss, but is refusing to give up his Assembly seat.
“Outside individuals and interest groups have asked for me to resign,” Lopez wrote in a curt, all-caps message to reporters on Tuesday. “I believe the people should decide who should represent them. I will not capitulate to those self-serving tactics and demands.”
To Fidler, who was laid up in the hospital for more than two weeks when an allergic reaction to his gout medication wrecked havoc on his kidneys earlier this year, the misdiagnosis — and the possibility of having a few years to live was a sobering experience.
“Your bucket list changes when you are facing certain and impending death,” he said. “I can’t say that seeing the penguins on the Galapagos Islands seemed that important anymore.”
His kidney problems require repeat dialysis treatments, but Fidler said that’s not going to stop him from serving out his council term, which ends next year.
“You will have Lew Fidler to kick around, folks, for better or for worse, just not for about three and a half hours for three early mornings every week,” he assured his Facebook followers.
Reach Deputy Editor Thomas Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2525.