Cats Out of The Bag
Early on in the mayoral race, the head of the Brooklyn Republican Party, Craig Eaton, was solidly in the corner of former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, whom he declared to be a potential “gamechanger” for the party as it seeks to retain its hold on City Hall. Mr. Carrión, however, is a registered independent and would need the support of three of the five county chairs to run in the Republican primary. As Mr. Carrión has only been able to secure the backing of two, Mr. Eaton told Politicker that he’s now “leaning heavily” towards endorsing another candidate, billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis.
Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind has been at the center of a firestorm since Politicker revealed he wore a “black basketball player” costume consisting of an afro wig, brown face paint, an orange jersey and sunglasses to a Purim party at his home Sunday. At first, Mr. Hikind fiercely defended himself against criticism before penning a “heartfelt and sincere apology” on his website this morning. Though the incident and Mr. Hikind’s initial response generated harsh headlines around the world and provoked critical statements from other politicians, several insiders we spoke with insisted Mr. Hikind was spared from a stronger reaction because of the unique power he wields on the local political scene.
One local political insider noted this isn’t the first time Mr. Hikind has courted controversy without facing lasting repercussions. In 2011, Mr. Hikind was one of the most vocal Democrats opposed to New York’s legalization of gay marriage. He bucked his party again this year when he suggested Jewish support for President Barack Obama was a “disease.”
“Can you imagine if somebody else had said that? What does that even mean, right?” the insider said of Mr. Hikind’s comments on the presidential election. “People are not willing to stand up to him. Internally, everyone realizes he’s a dirtbag, we’re just not going to say that because that’s the game we play.”
It snowed, hailed and rained on Bill de Blasio’s parade. The public advocate spent Monday, his first official day as a mayoral candidate, on a journey that spanned over sixty miles and all five boroughs, a dramatic, physical manifestation of his plan to propel himself to Gracie Mansion by reaching out to disenfranchised residents in the far flung corners of the city and channeling populist backlash against the policies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg along the way.
Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign launch was, quite literally, a family affair. He made the long expected announcement in the front years of his home accompanied by his wife and son, a fitting setting as he cast himself as a local parent who would wage a populist, progressive battle against the inequitable, out-of-touch policies of both Mayor Bloomberg and his rivals within the Democratic party.
“Government must focus on the needs of families, must be the protector of neighborhoods and must guard the people from the enormous power of moneyed interests. Now my friends, it can be done, but not by elected leaders alone,” Mr. de Blasio said in front of a cheering crowd who filled the sidewalks and street in front of his home. “It requires average New Yorkers who simply refuse to allow their community’s voices to be stifled. It’s their spirit that I intend to sweep into City Hall. A spirit that shouts that all boroughs were created equal and that all our residents matter! And that’s why today, here on my block in Brooklyn, I proudly declare my candidacy for mayor of New York City!”
Assemblyman Vito Lopez has a new problem on his hands to go along with the ethics committee that is investigating him for sexual harassment complaints filed by four female former staffers. Some time this afternoon a hacker gained control of Mr. Lopez’s Twitter account and began posting a series of messages insulting the embattled politician and praising one of his rivals.
“We’re trying to figure this out,” a staffer in Mr. Lopez’s district office said when Politicker called them to ask about the hacker a few moments ago.
It was the multicultural American Dream, the only hope of ambitious Russian immigrants and the possible death knell of Orthodox Jewish communities, all at once, at least according to some of those testifying at the redistricting hearing last night in Brooklyn.
It was not the controversial draft map that placed potential Council candidate Vito Lopez in a neighboring district–the aspect of this year’s redrawing of the City Council lines to reflect the new Census numbers that has attracted the most media coverage–that sparked the controversy last night. Rather, two versions of Councilman Michael Nelson’s 48th District offered alternating realities for competing demographic groups, dominating the public hearing in front of most members of the Districting Commission.
Former Councilman Sal Albanese, who said last month he’d be officially kicking off his campaign for mayor by December 18, announced his bid this morning. In a moderately lengthy statement on the development, Mr. Albaneese argued he is “uniquely qualified to lead a New York City that leads the world in prosperity and provides a good quality of life for all of its citizens.”
Earlier today, Abe George, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a candidate next year against incumbent Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes announced one of his key campaign platforms will be relaxing penalties for marijuana possession.
“As a career prosecutor who spent considerable time investigating and prosecuting drug crimes, I have seen first hand how valuable resources have been wasted enforcing antiquated marijuana laws rather than fighting crimes that directly impact the public good,” Mr. George said in a statement that also noted anti-marijuana laws’ disproportionate effect on young minorities. “Brooklyn, which has long led the city in homicides and shootings, cannot wait until the New York State Legislature acts at some unknown time to finally decriminalize marijuana possession.”
Move over Governor Cuomo. As we explained when Frank Seddio emerged on top of the Kings County Democratic Party, nobody does Christmas like Mr. Seddio. He loves the holiday. A lot.
Mr. Seddio, who has a personal Facebook page named “Canarsie Christmas,” hosts a massive annual holiday display at his home in Canarsie that has included balletic animatronic smurfs, countless lights and earned legions of local fans make an annual pilgrimage to E. 93rd Street to view his Christmas decorations.
Though Mr. Seddio’s new position as Brooklyn Democratic Chairman means he has far more political duties than he did this time last year, there’s no stopping his Christmas cheer and he is ready to come back in full force. To wit, public relations guru George Arzt sent out a 11-paragraph press release detailing the upcoming unveiling of Mr. Seddio’s holiday exhibition, which notes the mammoth $300,000 display will have “500,000 lights, almost 100 animated dolls, and a talking Christmas tree.”
After the Flood
Two days after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, Barbara Garofalo, a lifelong Sea Gate resident, stood in front of the community’s chapel, which had been turned into a makeshift headquarters for emergency personnel.
She watched bulldozers work their way through the ruins of the neighborhood’s private beach club, surveying the piles of rubble and twisted metal and the uprooted cabanas that littered the streets after the storm sent waves crashing through the neighborhood’s beachfront homes, ripping several off their foundations. Eyeing the damage, Ms. Garofalo couldn’t help but wonder whether some of the houses could have been saved if a planned government project to reinforce the community’s beaches had started sooner.
“They have the money in process, but they haven’t started it yet,” said Ms. Garofalo. “Maybe we would have had water damage, but maybe would have—could have saved the homes. Every home on the beach is gone. It breaks my heart.”