Hundreds of local politicos voted at last Wednesday’s Democratic County Committee meeting to weaken a rule that gives Brooklyn party boss Frank Seddio multiple votes on party matters, but Seddio pulled 450 votes out of his pocket to overrule reformers. The move proves he is running things more like a dictatorship than a Democracy, critics said.
“Obviously Frank will never agree to it. As long as one person holds the majority of the votes — a vast majority — those meetings will always be that scripted, Soviet b-------,” said Nick Rizzo, a county committee member from Williamsburg and one of dozens who disrupted the meeting after the vote.
About 1,500 Brooklynites make up the Kings County Democratic Committee, but many rank-and-file members do not attend meetings, instead giving their voting power to party leaders who often use it as they see fit.
Reformers from the New Kings Democrats pushed a package of five amendments last Wednesday, including one that limited the number of so-called “proxy votes” party honchos can use, so that a single member cannot railroad a meeting. But when it came time for the “ayes” and “nays,” Seddio used a pocket full of proxies to put off reforms until at least January.
The package requires review, according to Seddio, who promised to create a panel to look at the plan by the group’s January meeting.
“There was an issue before the county committee tonight regarding the amendments that were asked to be made,” he told the crowd. “And in that regard, what I intend to do is appoint a committee consisting of some of our active voices in this, as well as some members of the executive board, to evaluate all of these issues and to come back to us as soon as possible.”
But Rizzo, who is also a member of the executive board, doubts any reformers will actually make it onto Seddio’s panel.
“We’ll see if a single person who put these amendments forward gets on that committee,” he said.
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And Seddio wasn’t the only one pulling strings to silence reformers. State Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D–Crown Heights) ordered committee members to side with Seddio during the contentious vote. When it looked like the reformers would prevail, Hamilton got up from his seat, walked over to a group of committee members from his assembly district, and demanded they change their position. No one listened, but it was a clear abuse of power, one of his fellow lawmakers said.
“I’m baffled by the action, but I think it was quite embarrassing to publicly do that to county committee members. I think it shocked everybody. That was blatant, that was bold — it was a bold negative move,” said freshman Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D–Crown Heights), who took on Hamilton and told committee members not to change their votes. “We all can see basic principle — what is right, what is wrong. And what took place was definitely wrong. And it left an ill feeling in the room, not only with those getting the directive.”
Hamilton’s move was a wake-up call for one newly elected committee member, who called the senator’s actions corrupt, plain and simple.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my god, what is this guy doing? This is totally out of order. I can’t believe this. And why is he doing this?’ ” said Barbara Rogers, a committee member from Prospect–Lefferts Gardens. “I had heard stories about corruption in the Brooklyn party machine but wow.”
Hamilton declined to comment.
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Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Borough Park) has not ruled out endorsing Republican Donald Trump for president.
The lawmaker said he plans to back one of the major party candidates — either Trump or Hillary Clinton — ahead of the November election. He won’t say for sure that he’s pulling for The Donald, but he says he simply cannot back Clinton because she supported the Iran Nuclear Deal — a lightning rod among Jewish politicians, because they say it endangers Israel by letting Iran enrich uranium.
“The Iran issue is so fundamental to me and so basic,” said Hikind, who added that Hillary’s performance at the Sept. 26 debate did not help sway him. “Last night [during the debate] she defended that deal and made it sound like, if not for her, then Iran would have nuclear weapons. I value the Prime Minister of Israel and the people of Israel.”
The lawmaker even published a YouTube video on Sept. 9 — called “Sorry Hillary, You’re Fired” in an apparent allusion to Trump’s catchphrase “You’re fired” from his erstwhile television show “The Apprentice” — condemning the Democratic nominee.
Hikind called Trump’s showing at the debate “absolutely embarrassing,” but indicated he was still leaning toward the real estate developer and promised he would pick a side before Election Day.
“I thought I’d never been in this situation like this,” said Hikind, who is also seeking reelection on the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative party lines this November. “Just having a hard time saying T-r-u-m-p. But I will make an endorsement.”