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This diary is a report on a very much insider event: the Democratic County Committee in Brooklyn. But this event used to get very little attention and it needs transparency. For those who want more on this, click here for City and State NY's coverage of last night's event. It is only recently the media even started covering it and generally only due to the fuss the reformers were making.

[By the way...rumor last night had it reform District Leader Lincoln Restler may yet win re-election...but provisional ballots are still being counted!]

Last night was the first Brooklyn Democratic County Committee meeting my wife and I felt accomplished anything. In the past the best we could do was get them to reveal their financial report publicly (something that is now routine) and get them to allow the stack of proxy votes the Party Leader used to dominate the meeting to be scrutinized.

Our first County Committee meeting (sounds so romantic!) was the last before convicted Party Boss Clarence Norman went to jail. We were recruited by a friend and had little warning of what we were in for. My wife was 2 weeks overdue in giving birth to our son (his fault, not hers...he refused to get into position...kind of gave us a sense of his personality right there!). We wondered if his birth might upstage Clarence Norman's last stand...but he held on and was born later.

But the meeting was a farce. A circus. It was literally scripted from start to finish and was as uninviting and undemocratic as could be. The only saving grace was local politician Ken Diamondstone's determined effort to stand up to the farce and at least SHOW that it was a farce. I wish we had been warned in advance. We might have been able to help Ken in showing what a farce the official Democratic Party was in Brooklyn.

Here's the key. I despise corruption. It puts the self interest of a handful of powerful folks over the actual governance of our country, our state, our city. I cannot stand when people put their own self interest so blatantly and completely ahead of the community. That is what Republicans do these days. When I was a kid even Republicans didn't do that quite so much.

I spend a great deal of time fighting Republican corruption. So when I realized that the head of the Democratic Party in my own area, Clarence Norman, was going to jail, it kind of made me feel sick. Seeing County Committee in action made me realize the corruption went deeper than Clarence Norman.

From then on I got to watch the new Party Boss Vito Lopez's machine replace the Clarence Norman machine. I saw no real change. No recognition that the corruption in the Brooklyn Democratic Party was an embarrassment to the Democratic Party in general and was potential ammunition for the Republican Party. I predicted early on that this would mean we would start losing to the Republicans here in Brooklyn because the local Democratic Party was more dedicated to perpetuating the power of a handful of corrupt sleazebags than actually electing Democrats in contested elections.

Now, though the dynamics are more complicated than this, having in many ways to do with developments within a segment of the Jewish community that puts intolerance before community-interest, but the Democratic Party in Brooklyn has indeed been falling apart. We are losing contested elections like crazy, including Anthony Weiner's Congressional seat. The number of contested elections are still small, but the dynamics are changing and the slack and corrupt attitude that I have seen locally in the Brooklyn Democratic Party has meant that we will continue to lose unless we start changing how we do business.

THAT is the most important thing to learn from the last 8 years as well as from last night's meeting. And in last night's meeting SOME people got it and, really, really sadly, some didn't.

Last night was the first meeting of the Democratic County Committee that saw a collaboration between reformers and the machine. In particular Councilmember Lew Fidler, a supporter of the new Boss (and Vito Lopez protege) Frank Seddio and  reform District Leader Jo Anne Simon together hit the strong note of binging the county's Democrats together to change how the Democratic County does business and fight back against the right wing, often intolerant Republicans who have been WINNING here in Brooklyn.

People cheered this collaboration, which is good. And the result was a resolution reforming the rules of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, proposed by Councilmember Lew Fidler, seconded with support for amendments by District Leader Jo Anne Simon, and amended by other reformers including Matt Cowherd of New Kings Democrats, was passed overwhelmingly. These rules changes were all reform in nature and worthwhile, though some I talked to thought they were too little. But they are far more than I personally have seen the machine go for in the near-decade my wife and I have been involved with County Committee. Seriously, something big happened last night and credit has to go to incoming leader Frank Seddio, to Lew Fidler, to Jo Anne Simon, to the New Kings Democrats, and to reform District Leader Chris Owens, all of whom had some role in agreeing to the first collaboration I have seen within the party here in Brooklyn.

I hope we can actually have this kind of cooperation in defeating Republicans locally one day! The Vito Lopez machine actually DISCOURAGED taking on Republicans. I am hoping the Seddio machine will do better there.

Councilmember Charles Barron proposed one thing I contemplated proposing myself, though I had some reservations. Barron proposed that the position of County Leader, which is currently elected by the insider machine hacks of the Executive Committee of the County Committee, in the future be elected by the entire body of the County Committee.

I had considered proposing this myself. It would be far more transparent and democratic for the County Leader to be elected by the entire County Committee rather than the carefully selected Executive Committee, and bottom line is I think this is how it should be done. However I will admit that election by the Executive Committee may actually make it harder for an outgoing Party Leader to control the outcome for the next leader because (under current rules, which are in the process of being changed...) the former leader holds massive numbers of proxy votes in the whole County Committee, but not in the Executive Committee (now that Vito's appointed cronies are being dismissed). So which is the reform position in practice is not clear at least under current rules. But which is the more transparent and democratic is clear. The County Leader should be elected by the whole County Committee, not just the Executive Board.

So I support Charles Barron on this particular issue though with some reservations.

Barron was booed by a slew of machine supporters when he pointed out that the corruption in the party has led to an embarrassing situation where we have our previous County leader just out of prison and our current one under investigation by almost every level of government for crimes from massive political corruption to sexual harassment. He pointed out hard facts we all have to face and the party cronies booed him. THAT, my friends, is embarrassing. Seems like at least some machine hacks in the County Committee meeting were in complete denial about how horrible we all look right now.

I stood up, and though I didn't agree with Barron on everything he said (I am, for example, quite curious if Seddio can pull off making himself an apparently reform leader within the machine!), I chastised those in the audience who booed Charles Barron for ignoring the fact that the Brooklyn Democratic Party currently looks like a bunch of corrupt sleazebags who sexually harass young women. Wow...great image we have folks! No wonder we lose to the likes of teabagger David Storobin (apparent sympathizer of the Afrikaner Separatist Movement in Africa)! Maybe if we ignore it, it is BOUND to go away, right?

WRONG!

Clarence Norman served jail time. Vito Lopez is being investigated by the FBI on down and apparently loved groping women. Frank Seddio lost his judgeship in a scandal...and now Seddio is trying to reform himself, but the pattern looks bad...and one participant of the meeting told me I had forgotten to include Meade Esposito, adding yet another Democratic Party Leader in Brooklyn who was blatantly corrupt. Seddio seems to want to break the trend and, at least at today's meeting, it looked promising. But he, and the entire Democratic Party of Brooklyn, has a HUGE amount to prove to voters if we want to stop losing to complete nutjobs like David Storobin. So all of those who booed Barron: aren't you even a little bit embarrassed by the crap our borough has been dishing out in the name of the Democratic Party? I know I am. And it has made it painfully hard for me to write about Republican corruption, one of my national themes.

A lot got done last night and I am genuinely pleased by what Lew Fidler and Jo Anne Simon did with the apparent nod of Seddio. I am suspicious of Seddio but if he genuinely wants to rehabilitate his image, then go for it and let's see what we can accomplish together. I am cautiously optimistic that the current collaboration between the leaders of he new incarnation of the machine and the reformers, something not seen in all the time I have been with the Brooklyn Democrats, will lead at least in the short term to better things. In the long run let's remember that any machine will become corrupt without opposition. So the reformers may split between those who go along with the new version of the machine and those who remain unconvinced. But that is fine. Because we need two things: a more effective party structure, something that we lost some time ago among the corruption and power plays, and an effective opposition that keeps the party mainstream in line.

So...moving forward. Let's recognize that the corruption that has become endemic in Brooklyn has got to stop. Those who tried denying it at yesterday's meeting have to realize the damage they do. Let's also recognize that when people like Storobin start beating us...we need to do a LOT better. We need to unite not as a monolithic machine, but as a diverse, transparent and effective local Democratic Party.

Originally posted to mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:45 AM PDT.

Also republished by New York State and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Been there, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, rebel ga, divineorder, Lujane

    WOID: a journal of visual language http://theorangepress.com/woid

    by WOIDgang on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 06:22:58 AM PDT

  •  Twice in my life, I voted GOP. (16+ / 0-)

    Once was in 1980. Senator Herman Talmadge had been exposed as a crook but ran for re-election anyway and managed to win the Dem primary. It just about killed me to vote GOP, but in the general I voted for Mack Mattingly, who won the Senate seat...and went on to be named the "dumbest person in Congress" by some organization.

    I voted for Mattingly's Dem opponent in '86, but didn't regret voting against Talmadge in '80. Zero tolerance for crooks.

    Remember, the '94 Dem electoral disaster was in part because of the Rostenkowski corruption scandal, which followed by only a few years the Jim Wright corruption scandal. We do ourselves no favors when we tolerate corruption in our ranks.

    (The only other time I voted GOP was when a personal friend ran for school board in the GOP primary. At that time (no longer) you couldn't get elected as a Dem in our county. My friend lost in the GOP primary, and I voted for the doomed Dem in the general.)

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:06:57 AM PDT

    •  It can be tough (12+ / 0-)

      I endorsed the Republican (Cao was it?) who ran against William "Frozen Assets" Jefferson in Louisiana. Jefferson deserved to lose.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:19:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Getting Republicans to vote Democratic is tougher (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey

      ...well, Alan Keyes made it easy for many Illinois Republicans to vote for Barack Obama in the 2004 IL-Sen race. Jack Ryan won the Republican primary, then some damaging revelations regarding the circumstances of Ryan's divorce became public, forcing Ryan to withdraw the Republican nomination, and Judy Baar Topinka, who was then the Illinois GOP chairwoman, convinced Alan Keyes, a Marylander, to carpetbag into Illinois in order to run an impossible race against Obama. I know several usual Republican voters who voted for Obama back in 2004 because they felt that if the Illinois GOP couldn't find a real Illinoisan to run against Obama, they might as well vote for Obama.

      Joe Lieberman, Mike Madigan, Andrew Cuomo, and Tim Cullen...why are they Democrats?

      by DownstateDemocrat on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:21:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Me too. Twice. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora, Aquarius40

      Pataki in 1998 and Bloomberg in 2009. And I learned to regret both votes.

      Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

      by MBNYC on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pataki? Really? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MBNYC, Aquarius40

        Just once in my whole life: John Lindsay, 1969. And you could argue that i didn't really vote for a Republican that time, either, since he'd lost his party's ballot line to a Conservative. A very weird, interesting election, with the execrable Mario Procaccino as the Democratic nominee.

        And I never regretted it.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 04:45:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was 1998. (0+ / 0-)

          I was literally freshly fallen off the turnip truck. That's the year I moved to New York from Frankfurt, and Pataki seemed okay.

          Did vote for Schumer, though :-)

          Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

          by MBNYC on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:15:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Bloomberg in 2009??! (0+ / 0-)

        I can understand  Bloomberg in 2001. Hey I voted for Bloomberg in 2001 and I made the right decision.  Marc Green would have been a disaster getting NY back on its feet after 9/11.

        I might be able to understand Bloomberg in 2005, even though I saw the damage he did to the NYC Public School System.

        But in 2009?!  Hey, I may be a Democrat but my leanings are libertarian enough to dislike the mayor's zest for reforming us while ignoring other pressing city needs.

        My one regret was voting for John B. Anderson for President in 1980.  That was a stupid vote!

        "A pride of lions" "A murder of crows" "A wunch of bankers"

        by Glinda on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:22:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a .... (13+ / 0-)

    new member of the Solano County Democratic Committee. I have found no corruption in my group.  The stumbling block is an age.  Everyone who is active is in their 50s through 70s.  Also, those active have been at it for 10s of years.  I do not know where we find a new generation of active members.

    Good luck HeyMikey, stick with it.

    JON

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:18:23 AM PDT

  •  thanks for this (13+ / 0-)

    People get awfully complacent when they only see voting through the lens of national politics (i.e. "I live in a blue state, so I don't have to try too hard").

    We got a lot of work to do right here.

    The Rapture will be cancelled due to budget cuts. -- Bill in Portland

    by brooklynliberal on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:19:18 AM PDT

  •  In '09, we organized and threw the bums out (6+ / 0-)

    Here in my East Tennessee county, several dozen lawyers, who had seldom bothered to show up or contribute in previous years, magically appeared at our 2007 county convention, installed themselves including a county chairman whose election violated our charter because he was not a county resident -- claimed the palatial houseboat he docked here was his "legal residence" (Return To Sender; Not At This Address) and the Head Poobah of the Rules (I forget what the hell her position was actually called) rolled over despite protests.

    The junta disappeared to Nashville, did business and political deals that I'm sure benefitted SOMEONE, but not our county and not our county party.

    A piss-and-vinegar union and party activist who retired here from the Rust Belt led the counterattack in '09, and is still our county chair. He has been very effective in revitalizing our county party structure.

    !! Four more years !!

    by raincrow on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:43:46 AM PDT

    •  We don't have to worry about invasions - (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, Odysseus, labouchet, raincrow

      our corruption is truly home-grown. And it is the inevitable product of single-party rule. I know that those of you who live in purple places will be skeptical, and those who live in red ones probably associate corruption with Republicans, but the sorry truth is, it's the handmaiden of unopposed power, and neither party is immune.

      If you don't have a well-defined threat to unite against, it isn't very long before the desire to maintain power and position, the ability to dispense patronage and do favors, and the temptation to enrich oneself assert themselves and lead to all kinds of deformities.

      You get party leaders intentionally running the weakest candidate they think can win, because they don't want that candidate threatening the leader's position after they've won their election. And if they lose? The leader's still sitting pretty, even if there's now a Republican in the House where a Democrat used to sit.

      You get leaders not doing anything to increase turnout - no voter registration drives or GOTV for local elections - because they don't want to anyone who might decide to challenge them. Then when turnout is needed for a statewide election, the ground game's just not there.

      We've had a couple of embarrassing losses in general elections recently, and I think that played at least a part in making the machine pols realize that if they didn't start acting like Democrats instead of gangsters, they might not have much of a future.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:12:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your good work (9+ / 0-)

    As Democrats, we aren't just in the business of beating Republicans. We also need to make sure that Democratic-controlled governments actually serve the needs of the people, and there are some mighty blue areas where this isn't the case.

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

    by fearlessfred14 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:49:27 AM PDT

  •  Thank You for this report! (6+ / 0-)

    As a Brooklyn resident, I know how appalling the Democratic party machine is here and it is a hopeful sign that there may be hope for reform.  

    •  As long as we keep our eye on them! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rebel ga, sidnora

      I think the weaker the reform movement is and the less involved the voters in primaries, the more a machine can sink into an assumption that they run everything.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:38:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please join us! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, fisher1028

      One of the most important things a Democratic activist in Brooklyn can do is join the County Committee. There are literally hundreds of vacant seats just going begging (another way corrupt leaders maintain power), and the more reformers we can get onto the committee, the faster we can clean it up.

      It's not a big deal to get on it, and it takes almost none of your time. If you're interested, please kosmail me or mole333 and we'd be glad to tell you what's involved.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:17:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I second... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fisher1028, sidnora

      I second what Sidnora is saying. We need all the help we can get...and we have actually been winning some races as well. Judicial races (at least 4 I can think of in the past 8 years...maybe a few more), District Leader races, etc. And have slowly made a dent in how County Committee functions. Seriously, they at first refused to publicly show their financials...now after our insistence, they hand them out as a matter of course. Of course I don't think they are audited in any way...but that can be a later fight.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:25:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  two of my favorite shows... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, indres, sidnora

    of all time The Wire and Brotherhood dealt with big city and state corruption in Democratic party politics. My local city Springfield MA had a massively corrupt Democratic mayor for most of the 90's and the feds came in and cleaned house. the funny thing is people are whispering that the city was better when it was corrupt, but I am convinced the city was better back in the day because the local crime boss ran a tight ship and made sure that no one was killing people willy nilly, he was gunned down coming out of his Sunday night poker game and two crazy Greek guys and a recent Umass grad took over and all hell broke loose and now I am rambling about nothing.

    Fighting corruption is good, but be careful who takes over after the feds clean house.

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:11:37 AM PDT

    •  Heh... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora, Yamara, SherwoodB, Aquarius40

      I know for a fact that the Feds have WANTED to clean house here for a long time.

      Problem is Vito Lopez was nearly indestructible. Cancer and the FBI combined couldn't bring him down. What finally did it was a series of sexual harassment accusations.

      Seddio comes from the same background as Lopez...but Lopez was mean and vindictive. Seddio prefers being smooth and conciliatory, though 2 years ago a highlight of the County Committee meeting was my wife and I getting into a shouting match with none other than Frank Seddio.

      So far so good it seems...but a lot remains to be done.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:23:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, indres, sidnora, Aquarius40

    Thank you for the play-by-play...I live in Brooklyn, I have never been to a Dem Cty Committee in Brooklyn.  I agree with you...folks who put self interest and corruption over the larger goal of service to the public make me sick to my stomach, irrespective of party affiliation.

    Keep sounding the alarm and forcing these hacks to be honest...or, at least upfront.

    •  Thanks! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      indres, sidnora, Aquarius40

      We make slow progress. But year by year we are making some changes...or at least they let us think we are!

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:24:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As I said above, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333, Aquarius40

      if you care about Brooklyn, you should join us. It's not hard, and being a member takes very little time and effort.

      This is a very exciting time to do it, too. Last night was as different from my first County Committee meeting as a rock concert is different from a night at the opera.

      If you're interested, kosmail me or mole333, and we can fill you in on how it's done.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:26:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  oh yeah (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, mole333

    Congrats on the new baby!

    As a nation, the U.S. consumes the most hot dogs per capita. So you'd be wise to never underestimate our powers of denial.

    by jbou on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:12:58 AM PDT

  •  Encouraging news (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, sidnora, SherwoodB

    but keep the pressure on. My experience is that machines have a tendency to assimilate people. This the big problem with Albany. Good people get elected to reform the system but they get there and find that in order to get things done they have to play by the existing rules of the system. Little by little they become assimilated by the Borg. Same thing in machine politics.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:25:42 AM PDT

    •  Well... (4+ / 0-)

      To be honest I don't even know if I can be bought...no one's put a bid ; -)

      Lew Fidler is a good connection. He does a good job of bridging the machine and reformers. I like him...but of course that's how one can get assimilated!

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:31:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yup (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mole333, sidnora

        it doesn't always take buying. Plenty get into straight out corruption but most simply learn how to work within the system and forget the goal was to reform it.

        "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

        by Andrew C White on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:36:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know many who are like that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Andrew C White, Odysseus

          I have one advantage: my association with the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats. They do make compromises sometimes but are far, far less likely to do so than most clubs I know. Real sticklers for transparency, liberalism, etc. They help keep me honest and visa versa!

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

          by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:38:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  One encouraging thing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mole333, Odysseus

          about Fidler is that he comes from a machine background, and broke with them very publicly. He's not as likely to get co-opted by an organization he already knows from the inside, and one that didn't deliver for him when he needed them most.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:32:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  your son (0+ / 0-)

    How bad is he?  Is he a Republican?  Sadly, I am no longer talking to my brother because he's voting for Romney-- all his other faults seem minor in comparison.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:36:16 AM PDT

    •  Heh... (0+ / 0-)

      Not that kind of bad...just stubborn as hell. Which is probably good but not always convenient for a parent to deal with.

      His first act out of the womb was to pee on the doctor who delivered him!

      He is actually great in almost every way but we do have some problems with his behavior, but have been working through them. He is getting much better. Hell, last night he sat through the whole County Committee meeting reading a book (we couldn't get a baby sitter). Even a year ago that probably would have been impossible.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 10:40:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The impression I get of the NYC Democratic... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sidnora, mole333, Odysseus

    ...machine is that there are a lot of titanic egos who put themselves and their grudges ahead of the good of the party.

    •  There sure was one of those (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus

      in Brooklyn, until last night. Vito Lopez ran County Committee like a Mafia family: loyalty to him came before everything, and anyone who crossed him was a permanent target for his vengeance. Didn't matter whether the newly created enemy was a lowly District Leader or the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee - if you didn't "kiss the ring", you were going to get primaried, as often and as vigorously as his power allowed.

      His successor may turn out to be just as corrupt and compromised as Lopez was, but he definitely has a less confrontational and domineering personality.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:46:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  mole333 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, sidnora

    Thanks to you and for your wife's courage and your staunch support for honesty in public service.

     Since your heart is definitely in the right place, that grants you the self assurance that surely you and your wife must feel when you consider your opposites - those who are corrupting the process and the self serving choices they make.

    If you have the energy and the time to run for office your community would be extremely well served by you.

    And by the way, I also think it was a great loss for the Democratic Party and the country that Anthony Weiner had to? give up his seat and I hope he gets back into the ring.

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:20:06 PM PDT

    •  Thanks... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, sidnora, eve

      Both my wife and I have been asked if we intended to run for office (by the way, technically County Committee is an elected office, though generally uncontested). We don't really have the time, money or fundraising skills to do so. And all races in Brooklyn are overcrowded with people with far bigger followings. Chances are it is not in anyone's best interest for us to run but rather to help good folks run. We have been fairly key in a few close races, particularly one judicial race. I have been told I stopped a somewhat corrupt right wing Dem running in a primary against a good guy from getting the NYT's endorsement. That was a key factor in the good guy winning. Can't confirm my role, but my source for this is seldom wrong when it comes to Brooklyn politics.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:29:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  wow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mole333

        great job
        just goes to show how shallow(?) the NYT judgment is?

        I'll never forget Judith Miller.

        I wrote an e-mail to all the editors of the Times regarding the published verbal abuse Linda Greenhouse was receiving in an article criticizing her comments at her alma matter about the War in Iraq and her dismay over the war.

        In my letter I pointed out that the NYT had no problem putting Judith Miller's lies on the front page of the paper while Linda Greenhouse was speaking as an individual (not a reporter) at her college about her feelings which at the time few were courageous enough to express in public.

        The Times is far from perfect, I see.  
        Thanks for setting this powerful institution straight.

        Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

        by eve on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:17:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Main thing I did... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eve

          Main thing I did was just quote the candidate when he said  some rather damning things at a local club. Times checked with some folks whether my quotes were accurate, then decided not to endorse. The guy's own words damned him. I just exposed them to the world.

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

          by mole333 on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 10:32:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Move to Denver or Salt Lake City. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    It is too corrupt in Brooklyn. Too much money, too much organized crime. Has it changed much since Tammany Hall? I don't think so. I got sick of it when I was 18 and moved out west. Too bad Denver, which was much more community oriented, is now turning into a city hall kind of thing.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:30:47 PM PDT

  •  I heard the Brooklyn Dems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sidnora

    Have a very unusual nominee in Simcha Felder, I think he won the Conservative Party endorsements over Storobin as a write-in. The weird thing is Felder supports Romney/Ryan and who even knows if he's a bonafide dem.

    •  Felder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mole333

      is an orthodox Jew, very conservative socially and politically nimble. He is a prominent spokesperson for the orthodox community, which has its own special behaviors and affiliations in NYC politics.

      In most other places, he'd probably be a Republican (and the religious Jewish community here has recently been showing interest in the Republican Party), but here in Brooklyn all ideological niches, and almost all political offices, are currently filled by Democrats. We've had other Democrats who were ideological Republicans here. They tend to be very personally opportunistic, and they are not known for excessive party loyalty.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 03:58:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of the big problems with reform in NY is... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sidnora, mole333, the fan man, Odysseus

    The corruption goes all the way up to the legislature in Albany. There is so much incentive for the kind of things you're trying to change because the pay off for a well connected lawmaker on the right committees is the ability to mint money practically. I need only point to Pedro Espada for one example of many.

    The system is set up along strictly authoritarian lines - the majority leaders in the house and senate are answerable to no one in practice, and they keep that power by both dispensing favors and looking the other way.

    And as long as there are no negative consequences for that behavior, it will continue.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 12:35:48 PM PDT

    •  Absolutely! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, sidnora

      Not to mention the excessively powerful mayor of NYC...the dominant role of developers at all level of gov't with no attempt to hold those developers to their extravagant promises, etc.

      We do a lot on the reform side to expose such stuff....and it does have an effect. Just not enough.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:32:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Corruption in NY ....? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    What we have here is a mini-Penn State scandal

    A high powered official (Sheldon Silver) is made aware of allegations of sexual harassment and assault by one of the Assembly members (Vito Lopez)

    Instead of coming forward, however, he authorized secret payments of more than $100,000 to settle the claims.

    Why is it that every elected official, including our most senor female Democrat in the state, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand has been largely and disturbingly quiet

    Is it Democrats protecting their own, or something else?

    In any event, it is clear that Albany (and NY State) is a cesspool that must be drained in November

  •  Good piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    I was going to write it up myself, but couldn't summon the energy. Thanks.

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

    by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:01:47 PM PDT

    •  Please do! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora, Odysseus

      Would be good for more folks to speak out publicly against the corruption. Hopefully it is changing at least a little. But I am honestly baffled by the fact that the likes of Schumer, the State level party and the DNC let things get so bad here. It reflects badly on them even if they have nothing directly to do with it.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:34:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  inertia. taking things for granted. (0+ / 0-)

        he's got nothing to worry about. You'd think that as a member of the national party leadership he'd care more.

        I'm really wiped out today, so I'm happy just to hitch a ride on your diary. Thanks for the lift!

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:49:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bklyn Dem Alternative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, sidnora

    I've been disgusted for years with the Brooklyn Democratic Party. There is little point, however, in voting Republican around here—might as well not vote. But whenever I can, I've put my vote for local pols on the Liberal, Independent or even WFP line. It may be the same candidate, but I like the illusion that it helps to maintain even some tiny semblance of alternative power centers. I said, "illusion."

    •  WFP (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora

      Actually WFP can be just as corrupt as the Dems...in fact they have collaborated with Vito Lopez in the past (though not always). In fact they ran one of his revenge candidates one year after she lost the Dem primary.

      I have voted WFP in the past, but no longer. Sadly! For awhile I thought they really could be a force for honesty in the area. But they seldom really do that. They are all about power and are, in essence, a machine of their own. Doesn't mean all their candidates are bad...some are excellent. But they are as much in need of reform as the Dems are but I am unaware of a reform faction in WFP while within the Dems the reformers at least have some voice.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 05:20:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is thoughtful behavior, but (0+ / 0-)

      I take exactly the opposite POV, and here's why:

      The two-party system is built into the structure of our government, not explicitly, but because we have winner-take-all elections. Minor parties, even if they're worthier than the current crop, can never be more than gadflies to the two major parties. And in Democratic-dominated Brooklyn, most local elections are decided in the (closed) primaries. So if you're registered as anything other than a Democrat, you've effectively disenfranchised yourself locally. I had a running argument about this with my Liberal-registered parents for many years.

      The Democratic Party isn't going away, especially not in Brooklyn. The only way it's going to get better is if we make it better, and though it is a glacially slow, frustrating and sometimes sickening process, it's actually happening. This meeting was a real step in the right direction, and the result of almost a decades' worth of groundwork by the reform faction. OTOH, every activist who decides that WFP is a better outlet for their reformist impulses is ceding control of the Democratic Party to the bosses. And the Democratic Party isnt going away.

       I would vote for a third-party candidate if they were the best person running, but not vote for a cross-endorsed Democrat on the third-party line. I am interested in real change, not the illusion of change.

      Demographics may be on our side. Brooklyn has become much more affluent and better educated, both factors which tend to produce more active, less easily bossed voters. OTOH, there has also been growth among groups who are much more receptive to the Republican Party, Wall Street types, Russian immigrants and orthodox Jews. The prospect of real ideological opposition and the loss of a few elections may having a salutary effect on people who suddenly see their power threatened.

      The Liberal Party, AFAIK, no longer exists.

      "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

      by sidnora on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:55:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is not pretty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, Odysseus, sidnora

    When I was doing GOTV for Nydia a neighbor told me that he left the party because of the Brooklyn sleaze.  He seemed most concerned with Dov Hikind and I tried to convince him that we were machine free.  

    That's fine.  My friend committed to the party, the motivation being to vote against DeBlasio at every opportunity.

    •  Ah DeBlasio! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora

      He is laying low while Vito goes down...not surprising.

      Steve Levin is trying to lay low as well. He really needs to be nailed with his Vito connection...he was Vito's right hand man when a lot of the corruption was going down...is he going to turn state's evidence (I speculated on that possibility once and someone told me it sent a small wave of concern among some) or will he plead dumb...and he WOULD have to be dumb not to know what was going on.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 06:37:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  At first Bill was hesitant to comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mole333

        on Vito saying he was traveling with his family and didn't have all the facts.  Not thirty minutes later his fingers figured out the direction of the wind and he issued a statement.  I think Stringer and Nadler were first.

        •  Nadler's very smart (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sidnora

          Don't know Stringer well, though have met him a few times and know someone who worked for him who liked him a lot.

          Truth is Vito should have been anathema years ago. But blatant corruption and thuggishness is acceptable to most. Groping women not so much anymore.

          Actually, the fall of Vito and the chance for the reformers to have some say came partly because Vito alienated so many of his former followers. From Nydia Velasquez (who rocks), to Margarita Lopez-Torres, to Diana Reyna, to Lew Fidler, he had a knack for pissing off his own allies with his actions. In the end that is really what strengthened the reformers. We do our best when we ally with a former machine member who got sick of it. I doubt if Seddio would have given us the time of day without Fidler.

          FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

          by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:26:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, profiles in courage! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mole333

        Wasn't Levin Vito's Chief of Staff at one point? If so, there's no way he didn't know. And I bet he knows plenty of other stuff, too.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 05:58:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, and a big thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333, sidnora

    I am happy to see you writing about the local politics.  I am sorry I didn't see your diary earlier but I went directly to Gatemouth who linked to the Daily Gotham.

    Next, Puppy Levin.  FYI he sent a staffer to a Gowanus CAG committee meeting which is NOT typical of him.  Maybe he realizes he needs to distance himself from his patron.  

    •  Heh... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora

      I wrote my above comment about Levin before seeing yours. Glad we are thinking alike. But no one should LET him distance himself. He was Vito's aide!

      I think Levin has a good streak in him but he did mire himself in the filth deliberately. Opportunist to the end, I think.

      Daily Gotham had died for awhile. Don't know why. But not it is back...again don't know how it was resurrected. But it means we can start to rebuild our readership. Gatemouth has played his role, mostly good, in trying to get reformers and the better machine folks talking.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 06:39:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gatemouth (0+ / 0-)

        Yeah. But did you read his paean to the early career of Vito Lopez?

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:02:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well, he scored no brownie points (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sidnora

    the couple of people who attend that meeting regularly and are his constituents were not there.

    Vito is a like a character from an SNL mafia movie parody. Who would believe this is real?

    •  Vito kind of amazes me... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sidnora

      He is a walking stereotype...he deflects FBI investigations right and left...he fights off cancer repeatedly...I mean I can't help but feel some level of admiration for him. And as Gatemouth has pointed out to me, he certainly doesn't dress like he's making a fortune off his corruption (look up "schlump" in a Yiddish dictionary and there will be a photo of Vito!). Clarence Norman clearly wore his ill gotten gains. Vito Lopez looks like he is wearing hand-me-downs.

      Had I not experienced all this myself, I'd've never believed it.

      FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

      by mole333 on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:30:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How he dresses (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mole333

        is not diagnostic. When you come down to it, corruption is really about the misuse of power. How the power is misused can vary tremendously.

        "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

        by sidnora on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 06:04:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped and rec’d (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mole333

    I love stories about corruption. Especially when the corruption is discovered and made public. The people in the inner circles don’t want to let hoi polloi take over, so they make rules to hold onto power. I remember in 1988 when the evangelicals in WA state took over the party caucuses and elected a majority of delegates for Pat Robertson. That led to a decade of screwed-up delegate selection rules in WA, resulting in the current top-two primary. This year, at the Republican National Convention, they changed the rules to make it harder for Ron Paul supporters to send delegates to the RNC.

    And by far the most egregious example of corruption is the recent attempt by Republicans to set up voter ID laws. (Not that Democrats are blameless – Truman was once known as “the Senator from Predergast”).

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 11:16:08 PM PDT

  •  Any chance this might rid us of Sheldon Silver? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm looking for some real hope to get this done.

    "A pride of lions" "A murder of crows" "A wunch of bankers"

    by Glinda on Fri Sep 21, 2012 at 08:24:25 AM PDT

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