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It’s been a long, hard battle, but Erlene King is back on the ballot in the fight to unseat Flatbush City Council incumbent Kendall Stewart.

Board of Elections officials announced this week that King will be joining Stewart, Dexter McKenzie, Jumaane Williams, Samuel Taitt and Ernest Emmanuel in the September 15 primary for the 45th City Council District.

King’s petition signatures were challenged by Williams’ camp, who claimed that the signatures did not come with a summary cover sheet. At a court hearing, King’s attorneys proved she did not need to file a summary cover sheet because she did not file any omnibus petitions.

But King’s legal troubles were not over. The judge called everyone back into court the next day, claiming that he hadn’t adjudicated another charge against King: that the candidate did not respond to a compliance letter that was sent to her campaign office.

Dexter McKenzie has found an interesting way to promote his candidacy for the 45th District: his advertising campaign is on wheels -- some rather annoying wheels, in fact.

Our political scribes were stunned to see McKenzie placards plastered on the back of several dollar vans rolling up and down Flatbush Avenue.

A move like this can cut two ways: While the dollar vans can help get his word out to dollar van drivers, motorists may not care for McKenzie when one of these vehicles cuts them off to pick up a passenger.

Doug Biviano has suddenly gone from poodle to pit bull, turning rabid in a recent debate between the candidates running for Brooklyn’s 33rd Council District.

“Nice guy neophyte” Biviano’s tough guy turn has manifested ever since hiring anti-machine operative Gary Tilzer, who made a name for himself challenging Clarence Norman and Vito Lopez, whose former chief of staff Steve Levin is also a candidate. The move, one keen local observer mused, may backfire on Biviano, an engineer by trade.

“Tilzer goes back a long time — lord knows who hatched him, but almost no one who’s been nice to him has even been rewarded with anything but spite,” the person added. “I think the attacks with be successful in muddying up their targets, but it will not necessarily rebound to Biviano’s benefit.”

“Biviano was going nowhere, but his biggest asset was he was the non-political neighborhood nice-guy amateur,” the source said.

Now, the irony is that the anti-machine attacks will hurt the most plausible anti-Vito candidates.

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg celebrated the State Senate’s reauthorization of a law granting him control of the public school system, city Comptroller William Thompson, Jr. launched an attack.

Thompson, who hopes to unseat Bloomberg, accused Hizzoner of using the mayoral control law to prevent parents from having any say in their children’s educations.

“With its top-down approach, the Bloomberg administration has sought to avoid public debate and scrutiny, while fundamental decisions regarding education policy have been made by central administrators with very little education background,” said Thompson, who recently released a report dubbed “Powerless Parents: How the New York City Department of Education Blocks Parent Influence in Local School Governance.”

Bloomberg contends, “Mayoral control of schools has enabled us to take a failing and dysfunctional system and create the safest schools in generations, raise math and English scores dramatically, and help record numbers of students graduate from high school. By reauthorizing a governance structure rooted in accountability, our leaders in the state Assembly and Senate, along with the governor, have given us the key to continue moving our reforms forward.”

Read Thompson’s report at

Oh what a difference a district makes.

There have been seven, count ‘em, seven, debates among the City Council candidates running in the 33rd District (Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and Park Slope), while there have been zero debates among candidates in the 34th District (Williamsburg and Bushwick).

Rob Solano of Churches United for Fair Housing is trying to organize a debate with the candidates in East Williamsburg, while Make the Road New York has expressed interest in hosting a forum for the candidates at its Bushwick headquarters, but neither has solidified their plans.Town Square Inc’s Executive Director Susan Anderson tried to hold a candidates’ forum on August 13, though only one candidate confirmed attendance and the event was canceled.

“It’s irresponsible that the 34th district is not going to have a debate in comparison to the 33rd that will have more than ten debates by the end of the primary,” said Solano.“It should be the responsibility of newer candidates to be more enthusiastic to make this happen.”

After insurgent candidate Jumaane Williams called attention to a city record showing uncured violations at an apartment building owned by City Councilmember Kendall Stewart, whom he is trying to unseat, Stewart riposted at a recent debate by alleging that city records for a two-family home that Williams owns, at 1392 East 98th Street, show the existence of an illegal conversion.

In a subsequent interview, Stewart also contended that Williams %u2013 if he’s looking to point fingers %u2013 should start close to home in the building “where he says he lives,” 2401 Nostrand Avenue, which, Stewart said, has a total of 27 violations.

“Since he’s so gung-ho about the violations reported to my building, he should look at the building where he lives,” Stewart contended.

But, while records of the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) indicate that the building where Williams resides (but doesn’t own) does indeed have 27 violations, Department of Buildings (DOB) records show only a complaint of an illegal conversion for Williams’ own property.

The complaint was made in June 2008. After inspectors failed to gain access to the building on two occasions, in September 2008 the complaint was closed, meaning the complaint is “unsubstant­iated,” said Carly Sullivan, a DOB spokesperson.

Williams, asked about Stewart’s allegation regarding his property, said, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.” Asked whether there was an illegal conversion in the home’s basement, he replied, “Not that I know of.” He has owned the home for five years, Williams said.

As for the building where he now lives, Williams said it was “a very nice building. I don’t have too many problems. If I did, the landlord would be the first to know.” While he has only lived at the building for a few months, he added, “I have lived, been educated and worked in the district for the past 15 years.”

The exchange between the candidates began after Williams, whose career has been as a community organizer and tenants’ rights advocate, called a press conference outside Stewart’s building earlier this month, after the Daily News ran a story highlighting the number of violations still open at the address, including one for the presence of rodents. Stewart subsequently said he had corrected the problems, but that the city records did not reflect that.

Have a political tip, gossip or some hearsay to share? Email us at

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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