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Menchaca takes heat for Israel vote

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They’re calling him Carlos Meshugenah.

Freshman Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) has lost allies in Jewish sections of Brooklyn — including one he represents — after voting against a Council resolution condemning the so-called “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement,” which seeks to punish Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Menchaca, whose district encompasses a portion of the heavily Jewish Borough Park, voted against the resolution — effectively supporting the idea of boycotting Israel — along with three other Council members. Six pols abstained from the vote.

Jewish electeds hounded Menchaca afterward, charging his vote was ill-informed and pledging to unseat him when he faces reelection in 2017.

“I’m very, very disappoint­ed,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Borough Park). “I actually spoke to him before the vote, and interestingly, he told me he doesn’t know much about BDS, which I found incredible, because it wasn’t exactly a secret that there was a resolution. He was very, very clear that he didn’t know much about BDS and so on. I will do everything I can do to make sure he doesn’t get a single vote in my community.”

But Menchaca says he was informed and voted against the resolution on First Amendment grounds.

“I received many messages on both sides from district residents, colleagues, and friends on the topics of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement and Resolution 1058-A,” he said. “I do not want to punish, condemn, or deter those who want to have their voices heard in a peaceful, non-violent manner. I do want to uphold our sworn commitment to that constitutional right and our freedom of expression — which is why I voted against Resolution 1058.”

But voters in Menchaca’s district are already registering their anger — to a neighboring councilman, one legislator said.

“I have heard from many of Councilman Menchaca’s constituents who are outraged at his lack of support for the Jewish community,” said Councilman David Greenfield (D–Borough Park), who is also Jewish and condemned Menchaca on Twitter after the vote.

• • •

The Brooklyn Republican party is more fractured than ever.

State supreme court judge Edgar Walker ordered the party on Aug. 13 to redo last year’s contentious vote for county party chairman between attorney Ted Ghorra and former assemblyman Arnaldo Ferraro, but both men continue to call themselves the chairman and Ghorra — state Sen. Marty Golden’s (R–Bay Ridge) hand-picked successor to replace former chairman Craig Eaton — is taking on the role a little too seriously, critics charge.

The party hosted a training program at Golden’s family catering hall Bay Ridge Manor on Sept. 10, and an invite named Ghorra as the county chairman.

“Special guests will include Kings County Republican Chairman Ted Ghorra, United States Congressman Dan Donovan, Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis,” the Facebook invite stated.

Ghorra, a lawyer, should know better than to represent himself as chairman when a judge ruled last month that no man had won the election, a political insider said.

“Given that there was a lawsuit, given the judge declared that neither Ted nor Arnaldo was chairman, it is unsettling for an attorney, a member of the bar, to haul himself out as the chairman,” said Gerry O’Brien, who acted as the temporary chairman during last year’s convention. “It’s weird, it’s unsettling he would do something like that or allow others to do something like that on his behalf.”

Ferraro is also taking up the title, though in a more limited capacity — members of his Fiorello LaGuardia Republican club refer to him internally as chairman, but they do not distribute flyers referring to him that way, according to club member Lucretia Regina-Potter.

Both men held meetings last year claiming the chairmanship.

When asked why he was presenting himself as party leader, Ghorra brushed off the question, saying he only appeared at the Bay Ridge Manor function to help fellow Republicans seeking office.

“That’s a silly question, it was for the benefit of the candidates of the party,” he said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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