Councilman David Greenfield’s decision to abandon his re-election campaign hours after the deadline for anyone else to run for the seat is an “egregious” example of politicians using the system to play kingmaker and thwart the democratic process, the city’s good government exemplar said on Brooklyn Paper Radio this week.
“No wonder the public turns off — because voters know the fix is in,” said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union.
Later in the show, co-host Gersh Kuntzman, a Daily News columnist, used the a term we don’t use in newspapers to describe what Greenfield had done, and bid Dadey to share his favorite expletive for Greenfield’s move.
“It’s an ‘F-you’ to voters,” Dadey said, drawing cheers from the potty-mouthed Kuntzman.
To reiterate, here is what Greenfield did: Since June, Greenfield and his team had been collecting signatures to secure his place on the ballot for the 44th Council district, representing Borough Park. Collecting signatures indicates to voters that you intend to seek election. No other Democrat in the district bothered to even challenge the powerful Greenfield.
Then, on Monday, Greenfield announced that instead of running for re-election, he would take the top job at the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, a politically connected charity.
But Monday was after the deadline for anyone else to run for the seat — meaning Greenfield gets to pick the candidate who will run in his stead.
That candidate is longtime Greenfield ally Kalman Yeger. And get this: Yeger was set to run against Councilman Chaim Deutsch in neighboring District 48. But now he gets to win the Democratic nomination for the seat by running unopposed for his patron’s seat.
Meanwhile, Deutsch’s constituents lose their chance at a contested election.
“So, no, Greenfield did not misuse the process,” Dadey said. “But he used the system in an egregious way. He was not transparent in that he was considering another job. He told his constituents that he wanted to be their councilman for another year. And then he opted out on the last day possible so (he) could hand-pick his successor. This inside game of politics is played all too frequently and it turns all of us off.”
Kuntzman and co-host Vince DiMiceli then invited young reporter Colin Mixson to reveal what Greenfield’s office is saying about the councilman’s move.
“I spoke to his chief of staff,” Mixson said, “and he told me, ‘David Greenfield is humbled to accept the position as leader of the Met Council.’ ”
“That’s it?” Kuntzman asked. “What about when you followed up and asked again about him deciding to quit his re-election campaign after it was too late for anyone else to run?”
“He said again, ‘Councilman David Greenfield is humbled…’”
DiMiceli jumped in.
“But, Colin, obviously you asked a third time, right?”
“I did, Vince, and Greenfield’s chief of staff told me on the record, ‘David Greenfield is humbled…’ ”
This time, Dadey was outraged.
“They are playing us for fools,” he said. “But we’re not fools. We’re civic-minded New Yorkers who deserve respect.”
Dadey used Greenfield’s move to remind listeners that the only solution is a state constitutional convention to tweak the way our government operates — and ban “egregious” moves like Greenfield’s.
In other exciting Brooklyn Paper Radio news, Kuntzman and DiMiceli opened the show in their typical fashion: Talking about themselves.
DiMiceli offered his rationale for never again traveling to New England for a mere weekend.
“You spend two days in the car,” he said.
And Kuntzman shared an anecdote about a woman who berated him about his recent Hillary Clinton column in the Daily News as she and Kuntzman picked up their kids at Camp Half-Blood in Prospect Park.
“We’re picking up our kids and she starts cursing at me!” Kuntzman said. “I begged her to write a letter to the editor. The letters page loves anti-Gersh mail. But all she wanted to do was curse. There’s no reason to be rude. I’m a nice guy. People love me.”
“Well, some people,” DiMiceli said.
Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 4:30 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on Brook