Two members of a southern Brooklyn community group called the Shorefront Coalition are breaking off to form a splinter organization, claiming the group’s president is shamelessly using the non-profit as a platform to launch his political career.
“You don’t overlap political work with community work,” said Maurice Kolodin, a former member of the Shorefront Coalition and one-time Community Board 15 chairman. “You have to be clear with people that you are doing something politically.”
Kolodin said he and former Community Board 13 chairman Butch Moran were brought onto Shorefront Coalition — a “non-partisan” volunteer group with the stated goal of “promoting civic engagement, aiding youth and seniors, and increasing broader participation in community affairs” — as advisors on the condition there would be absolutely no political shenanigans.
But shortly after Thanksgiving, the pair said they found out that President Steve Saperstein had filed to run for office in 2021, leading the two to suspect he created the organization to garner name recognition for the prospective candidate.
“He opened a committee without telling us when that was contrary to any allegiance we had,” Kolodin said. “So we divorced ourselves at that point.”
The civic guru said that one of the conditions of the deal was that if Saperstein did for office, he would resign from the committee — but when it came time for Saperstein to bow down, he refused, according to Kolodin.
“He specifically refused to,” Kolodin said. “In fact, he and Lev without Butch and I knowing set up the coalition as an LLC on their own.”
And so, the two community board chairman created the Shorefront Partnership Alliance, which will mirror the goals and operations of the Shorefront Coalition — without promoting Saperstein.
“We just set up the new organization Shorefront Partnership Alliance and we are doing precisely what the Shorefront Coalition was supposed to do without having any tinge of political campaigns,” Kolodin said. “We are looking to do everything as we have for the public and the well-being of the entire shorefront area but not when there is a lateral agenda that is going on.”
Kolodin said that him and Moran will do a better job that Saperstein and his partner Lev Ekster anyways, saying they’re far more experienced when it comes to civic involvement and advocacy.
“Between us, we don’t have just decades of dedication but we have decades of actual involvement within the community,” Kolodin said. “These are people who have no known record of their own experience or accomplishments.”
Saperstein, meanwhile, says there’s no hard feelings, and wished the civic gurus success on their new endeavor, saying he’d be willing to work with them again in the future.
“Our mission statement has always been to create civic engagement in the community. If they have recently gained the motivation to start an organization of their own then we are pleased to have inspired them with the great work of the Coalition,” Saperstein said. “We wish them much success in their endeavors and hope we can work together for the good of the community in the future.”
Saperstein, who filed with the state Board of Elections for a run in 2021, has previously vied for a City Council seat in 2017 and a State Assembly seat in 2018 as a Republican candidate.
He refused to say which office he’ll seek this coming election.