Haiti horror’s political repercussions • Brooklyn Paper

Haiti horror’s political repercussions

Haiti horror’s political repercussions

As more and more horror stories from the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake trickled in last week, Haitian-born City Councilmember Mathieu Eugene (D-East Flatbush) canceled his swearing-in ceremony scheduled to take place at Tilden High School on January 17.

“I have no choice, out of respect to my community and my fellow brothers and sisters to cancel such an event,” he said in a letter to constituents.

Instead of attending the ceremony, Eugene asked that people “pray for the families devastated and traumatized by this horrible tragedy.”

Democrat poised to take out Golden

State Senator Marty Golden – the borough’s lone Republican in its Albany delegation — may have had no opponent the last couple of go-rounds. But, this year, it’s looking increasingly likely that his name will not be the only one on the ballot in the 22nd Senatorial District.

Bay Ridge Democrat Brian Kieran, who was recently elected vice chair of Community Board 10, told this paper that he is seriously considering taking Golden on.

Kieran, who said he is still waiting for clearance from his job as a law clerk with the Office of Court Administration to take the step, contended that he “wouldn’t choose the race — the race chooses you,” and said he was looking at running chiefly because of his concern about the way Albany operates.

“Albany is broke. It’s dysfunctional,” Kieran contended. “I think we need fresh ideas, fresh eyes. It’s almost like a moral imperative for me.

“I don’t want to knock Marty, the man,” he went on. “I’m well acquainted with him, and I like him.” But, Kieran contended, “This is a knock on all of us if we don’t stand up and say we are willing to fight the system.”

The problems cross party lines, Kieran averred, in large part because personal ambition becomes an end in itself for many elected officials. But, he said, “I’m not a politician looking for a career in politics. I’ve had a full career. This is not an economic opportunity for me. It wouldn’t be the fulfillment of all my dreams. But, I do feel strongly that this is something that needs to be done.”

In addition, said Kieran, if Democrats retain control of the Senate, the 22nd S.D. would be better served by having a Dem in the seat.

“Marty ran against Vinnie Gentile saying I can do a better job because I’m a Republican and I’m in the majority,” he recalled. “Well, guess what. You’re not now. Marty did great for the district while the Republicans were in control, but if they don’t regain the majority, then a Democrat can do a better job for the community.”

Kieran said he expected to know shortly if he could make the race without resigning from his current job. If he decides not to run, he went on, he said he hopes someone else picks up the gauntlet. To have an incumbent run for reelection without having an opponent, he stressed, is not “democratic with a small D.”

No Majority Leadership for Sampson…for now

Senate Democratic Majority Leader John Sampson refuted whispers that he will be named Senate Majority Leader in the next few months.

In fact, he’s perfectly happy in his role as Democratic Conference Leader he told reporters during a Friday afternoon sit down at his Canarsie office.

Dispelling rumors, Sampson said that he is not the de facto Majority Leader.

“There is no confusion whatsoever between my role and Pedro Espada’s (who currently has the title of Majority Leader).”

“I’m responsible for all the day to do day operations and the direction of the conference,” he said, adding that his responsibilities aren’t the same as Espada’s or State Senate Malcolm Smith, the former Majority Leader who is now the senate’s President Pro-Temp.

“They’re responsible for the legislative agenda while I deal with the members and their legislative issues,” he said.

While that sounds the same to this writer, he assures us it’s not.

During last year’s Republican coup, Sampson was given the new Democratic Conference Leader title when senate Democrats were expressing less and less confidence in Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens).

At first, many people questioned if Sampson and Smith were doing the same job, especially when it comes to rallying the troops and pushing the Senate’s Democratic agenda.

While still named Majority Leader, Smith has taken a back seat to Sampson over the last few months, some noted, adding that many of Smith’s staff when he was Majority Leader has been moved to the Democratic Conference’s office.

Sampson’s campaign filings soar

Senator John Sampson may not be Majority Leader, but he’s certainly getting some Joe Bruno-sized campaign contributions.

According to recently released campaign finance numbers, Sampson raised $1.05 million from special interest contributors.

Most of the contributions came from hospital organizations, nursing homes, home care facilities, and teacher and construction political action committees.

But Sampson spent the money as quick as he got it. Filings show that he spent $378,000 of the money already, leaving him with just over $736,000.

Some of the costly expenses were for the law firm of Alter and Barbaro and Prestige Strategic Communication Consulting Services.

Ortiz looking to run for higher office

Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, whose 51st assembly district includes Boerum Hill, Borough Park, Gowanus, Red Hook, South of Park Slope, Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace, has his eyes on either the state comptroller race or perhaps the race for U.S. Senate.

Ortiz told City Hall News that he is growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of Latinos in statewide office or citywide office.

Furthering this frustration is that in the appointment of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ortiz felt the Latino political community was kept out of the loop.

Ortiz said while he has not made any final decisions about 2010, he is planning to open a statewide exploratory committee by March.

Protest for Bloomie

Brooklyn residents will have their chance to protest outside of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Upper East Side town house.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled in favor of the Emergency Coalition to Stop School Closures, which includes Brooklynites opposed to a space-sharing arrangement at P.S. 15 in Red Hook.

“I am humbled that a homemaker from Red Hook, Brooklyn, can take a stand against City Hall and win.The struggle to save our schools and public education is just beginning.Please join us on January 21st on the mayor’s block to send a message that says no to the expansion of charter schools in schools like my children’s, P.S. 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn,” said Lydia Bellahcene, a parent of a P.S. 15 student.

The protest is scheduled for January 21st from 4-6:30 p.m. on East 79th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues. Protesters will meet at Fifth Avenue on the southwest park side of the block.

Proclaiming ignorance

A discussion last week on the controversial expansion of the Berkeley Carroll School was interrupted by City Councilmember Steve Levin and his colleagues Brad Lander and Sara Gonzalez , who were presenting the board’s district manager with a proclamation.

Levin, in whose district the project sits, had little to offer on the matter other than to smile and say, “I apologize for interrupting your lovely discussion.”

One keen political observer wasn’t too surprised. “He is a numbskull party boy who sees a council seat like a having a sports car. Meanwhile he has neither the desire or the ability to engage in a serious conversations about issues in his district, and so can only throw inappropriate and annoying platitudes around.”

But a neighbor and opponent of the school’s plan defended the freshman pol: “Steve is sincerely concerned about how this project will affect neighbors negatively, and has made every effort to be helpful to neighbors. He has visited the homes of neighbors and viewed the site first-hand; at meetings he has been generous with his time.”

Think Lander would let the same opportunity pass without offering comment?

Nadler says Lander is Best Above Rest

The Prospect Park Picnic House was the place to be on a drippy Sunday afternoon, where scores of public officials, campaign volunteers, and supporters from Borough Park to Park Slope witnessed the installation of Council member Brad Lander (D-39th District).

A few of his political rivals showed up too, including former candidates Josh Skaller, Bob Zuckerman and Joseph Nardiello whom Lander defeated but nevertheless were present at the celebrations.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan) mentioned those opponents, explaining why he chose to endorse Lander when he normally sits on the sidelines in local elections in his district.

“There were many great candidates in the 39th District, but Brad Lander was the best candidate running in the 39th District,” said Nadler, which Zuckerman and Skaller greeted with frowns.

In his remarks, Lander gave his rivals a shout out, thanking them for their grace and class in coming together to improve the district and their smiles returned.

Stimulus? Not so much

It’s called the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 – better known as “the stimulus.”

While pundits and talking heads across the media spectrum have begun murmuring something about a recovery, Rep. Yvette Clarke lamented in Brooklyn this week that the stimulus has “under-performed.”

“Some of us kind of felt it would, given what we had to do through negotiations just to pass the package,” Clarke said at Christ Church on Clinton Street.

The U.S. representative said that more money should have been put into infrastructure and renewable energies.

“We only were able to get a small part of that,” Clarke conceded. “Most of the funding went to tax incentives. It sort of trickled into the economy.”

Whew! It’s a good thing Democrats are in power, ain’t it? We might have to suffer through more tired old Reagan-omics.

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