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Family feud: Bensonhurst pol blames Sheepshead Bay colleague and cousin-in-law for false reports about his wife

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This will make for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

A Bensonhurst councilman accused his cousin-in-law who represents Sheepshead Bay in Council of feeding the media false reports about his wife being denied a job with the city’s public advocate, days after the former introduced legislation to axe the watchdog office.

Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Bensonhurst) blamed Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay), who is married to his cousin Sara, for the anonymously sourced reports in publications including the New York Post that claimed Yeger’s wife, Jennifer Berger, didn’t get a job with current Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James’s office earlier this year, which led him to introduce the bill as payback.

Rather, Berger declined a job offer from James’s office after being let go from her previous position as legislative assistant to former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito when current Speaker Cory Johnson (D–Manhattan) assumed the role, according to Yeger’s spokesman.

“She has her own professional career. Earlier this year, she was recruited and offered a position, which she declined,” said Jay Ackerman.

And the claim that Berger didn’t get the gig with James doesn’t hold water considering her previous work on James’s campaign for public advocate — an office voters reelected her to last year after first appointing her to the position in 2013 — and the fact that the former Fort Greene Councilwoman and Yeger are old friends, according to Ackerman.

“Tish and Kalman are friends for well over a decade, and he thinks the world of Tish and her public service,” Ackerman said.

Yeger on Wednesday introduced a bill in Council that, if passed, would let voters decide via a future ballot whether to keep or abolish the office of public advocate, and on Friday he rejected the idea that the legislation is in any way connected to his wife.

“The bill has nothing to do with her interaction with the office,” he said.

The legislation has been in the works for some time, according to Yeger, who said he chose to introduce it following James’s victory in the general-election race for New York State attorney general, because she must now vacate the office in January to move to Albany.

“I’ve been working on this bill for a long time and I wanted to wait until after Tish’s election,” Yeger said. “Now seemed like an opportune moment to talk about this position because it was about to become vacant,” he said.

Berger currently works as a special assistant in the mayor’s office, a role she assumed in August and earns $115,000 a year for, according to city records.

A rep for the public advocate’s office refused to comment on whether James previously offered Berger a position, or if she applied for a job there.

“The public advocate’s office does not discuss personnel matters,” said Delaney Kempner.

The anonymously sourced reports published Thursday in the Post and on the website Kings County Politics alleged that Berger applied to be James’s liaison to the Jewish community, but didn’t get the job because she demanded $40,000 in extra pay and flexible hours.

But Deutsch — who did not comment to the Post about Berger’s history with the public advocate’s office, but did tell the paper he thought the watchdog role should stay in tact — vehemently denied being the source.

“This is false. My only conversation with the Post about this subject was when a reporter called me to ask for a comment. I declined to comment, as was accurately reported in the Post article,” he said. “This has nothing to do with me, and I respect the right to privacy of all of my colleagues.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 7:20 pm, November 16, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

MJ from Bay Ridge says:
let there be light in Seth Low Park in Bensonhurst. Despite the $4 million renovation completed in 2017, there's not a single park lamp can be founded in the park.
Nov. 17, 12:49 pm
Avi Lenler says:
Chaim is a Neanderthal. The man votes NO on every piece of legislation that comes up involving women's rights. Look up his record. He lives in the Dark Ages. When it comes to social issues, Chaim makes Kalman look like Bernie Sanders! On top of that, Chaim's allegations make no sense. Let's pretend Kalman was angry at Tish because Tish didn't hire his wife, how does abolishing the office of public advocate hurt Tish now that she's the attorney general? I am calling bullhockey on the whole thing.
Nov. 17, 4:09 pm
Joseph B from New york says:
The only no show job is chaim Deutsch serving as the chair of the city council nonpublic school subcommittee making $8,000 a year for 4 years for a total of $32,000 and never holding a meeting. He is not allowed to be a substitute teacher because he dropped out of high school his first year. He should go back to high school or get a GED. Deutsch stands with Al Sharpton and wonders why there are so many anti sametic incidents, just like Farrakhan. Shame on you chaim Deutsch for voting for the perverted trans bathroom law. You are a KHAN artist!
Nov. 17, 6:59 pm
Anna from Brighton Beach says:
Maybe Mr. Deutsch is worried that they will eliminate the Boro President position next. Mr. Deutsch wants to run for Boro President.
Nov. 17, 10:25 pm
Jack from Kensington says:
The newly formed FJCC headed by then amateur Josh Mehlman did everything possible to help Chaim beat Ari Kagan in his run for city council. Although Chaim took some cheap shots at Ari, even questioning his religious status and / or affiliation for writing his name in Hebrew on a flyer... they are now buddy buddy, in hopes Chaim will put Ari to replace him. Chaim now takes and invites Mehlman around for photo ops, and tries very hard to strengthen the FJCC in return for once helping him with the final push for Orthodox votes. Chaim has been trying very hard to make headlines to advance his political career, and is shifting away from the decent person he once was. Although Kalman’s district and demographics are far more of interest to the FJCC, it seems they are instructed by Chaim to stay away from Kalman. Not that they have any say or power. It’s all a joke.
Nov. 19, 4:35 pm
Jules says:
Ari Kagan will not run unopposed in 2021. Ari seems to think he has a birthright claim to Chaim's seat but he is mistaken in that regard.
Nov. 20, 10:46 pm

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