Hikind lashes out at Menchaca

Party Line, March 3, 2017.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind says he can’t forgive Councilman Carlos Menchaca for a second slight against Israel and won’t support the one-time ally in his 2017 reelection campaign.

Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) came under fire when he joined hundreds of protesters rallying against the Trump Administration a few weeks ago and chanted “All the walls have got to go, from Palestine to Mexico,” just six months after he lost many Jewish allies for his vote against the Council’s resolution condemning “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Movement,” which seeks to punish Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Hikind (D–Borough Park), who called Menchaca “ignorant and pathetic,” said it would be impossible to support him anymore — even though he gave him his early support in 2013 — because his chant completely misses the point. He then demanded Menchaca educate himself on the history of Israel before speaking out against something he doesn’t understand.

Menchaca apologized last week to a roomful of Orthodox Jews at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, but that was not enough for Hikind, who says his apologies are getting old, and Menchaca should stick to his guns instead of retreating from his views time and time again.

“It’s hard to believe anything he says. He has really disappointed me in terms of his sincerity,” said Hikind. “Who he really is no one knows anymore.”

Menchaca later acknowledged the comparison he made between Israel’s wall and the proposed wall separating Mexico from America was wrong.

“I understand how such a wrong comparison between walls in Israel and on the Mexican border cause real distress. I failed to recognize the unique circumstances associated with each locale,” said Menchaca in an e-mailed statement. “I support the rights of all people to live in peace and security including Israelis and Palestinians, and our families who live on the U.S.-Mexican border.”

Menchaca may face rumored candidates Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D–Sunset Park) and attorney Delvis Valdes.

News of the split was first reported by the website Kings County Politics.

First Arab American

Rev. Khader El-Yateem, a pastor at Bay Ridge’s Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, announced his candidacy for term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile’s seat for Bay Ridge on Feb. 26, fulfilling a promise of Arab-American activist and Bay Ridge Linda Sarsour that “an Arab will run for that seat.” He is the first Arab-American to run for council in Brooklyn and, obviously, if he wins, he will become its first Arab-American member. He will join Gentile staffer Justin Brannan, state committeeman Kevin Peter Carroll, and Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurst) in seeking the Democratic line. Republicans seeking the seat include state Sen. Marty Golden staffer John Quaglione, supermarket manager Bob Capano, and Liam McCabe, a former rep for Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge).

El-Yateem’s says his campaign would send a message to the world about inclusivity and that the Bay Ridge community will not stand for bigotry of any kind, including Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.

“I have strong beliefs that the community will not be afraid to say we are going to send an Arab-American person to city Council to represent them,” said El-Yateem, who proudly claims he is not a politician. “This is a great time for a person like me who is from outside the establishment, to come with a fresh, new voice, a voice of harmony, unity, and peace.”

Sarsour has already endorsed El-Yateem, who was born in Palestine.

Read more here.

Brooklyn congressmembers call prez-elect Trump ‘illegitimate’

Party Line, Jan. 19, 2017.

Brooklyn congress members are following Georgia Rep. John Lewis’s lead and claiming President-elect Donald Trump is not a “legitimate” president because of Russia’s influence on the election.

Lewis told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd in no uncertain terms: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” and the Tweet-happy, soon-to-be commander in chief fired back in 140 characters or less, saying that Lewis, who has been attacked and arrested more than 40 times over a half-century of activism, was “all talk.”

Reps Nydia Velazquez (D–Red Hook), Yvette Clarke (D–Flatbush), and Jerry Nadler (D–Borough Park) are all refusing to go to Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 out of solidarity with Lewis — and now two are saying The Donald is not their president.

“I don’t want to pretend that this is a normal president or a normal election. This election was corrupted by the Russians, placing their fingers on the scales, by the FBI placing its finger on the scales,” Nadler said during a live interview on MSNBC this week. “It’s a legal election, we are not taking that away, but it’s not legitimate. And so I don’t particularly want to honor it that way.”

Clarke is also refusing to acknowledge Trump’s presidency as the real deal — she had been contemplating the decision to not attend for a while because of his hate-filled comments against Mexicans, Muslims, and women, but it was his lack of respect for a Civil Rights hero that put her over the edge, she said.

“I think that the political process by which we normally elect presidents in the United States was breached, and so the integrity of that has been diminished and that is cause to view this as an illegitimate process,” said Clarke. “And then I think what put the nail in the coffin was the lack of maturity that Trump has displayed in the use of his Twitter and the fact that he would respond to a Civil Rights icon like John Lewis during MLK weekend, to say such disparaging things about the people he represented in Georgia, that was a done deal.”

Read more here.

Gatling is first to announce DA bid

Party Line, Dec. 15, 2016.

Former Human Rights commissioner Patricia Gatling has announced her bid for district attorney — the first legal eagle to formally do so.

Sources whispered that Gatling was lobbying Gov. Cuomo to appoint her to the seat left vacant after District Attorney Ken Thompson’s death in October. She indicated at the time that she was not interested, but Gatling recently told us she’s all in.

Gatling, who practices law in Manhattan, previously served as the city’s Human Rights commissioner, but the role could haunt her.

Public Advocate Tish James got her sacked from the commission in 2014 after penning a letter to the mayor complaining the office was ineffective under Gatling’s rule, according to an Observer article from the time.

But Gatling says the media got it wrong — James never had issue with her specifically, and she was actually due to leave the agency, she said.

“[James] never even mentioned my name. It had nothing to do with me. I was scheduled to leave in two weeks because that was the deal with the mayor,” said Gatling. “And Tish and I have been friends and continue to be friends. I think it was the timing with the new mayor coming in, people felt like there was animosity.”

James was a rumored hopeful, but a recent Politico article said she’s no longer interested. Her office declined to comment to this paper.

Gatling could face acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Brooklyn Heights lawyer Ann Swern, Bay Ridge attorney Arthur Aidala, judge Shawndya Simpson, and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) in the 2017 election.

Regardless who wins, Gatling said the borough will be in good hands.

“I’m feeling that Brooklyn can’t lose in this race. While I think I’m the most competent of all of them, we don’t know if they are really running or what will happen ultimately,” Gatling said.

Read more here.


Brooklyn Democratic Party boss delays transparency, ethics reforms

Party Line, Sept. 23, 2016.

Hundreds of local politicos voted at 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 pushed a package of five amendments 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 things in greater detail by the group’s January meeting.

Read more here.

Abbate lied about ‘union-made’ mailers

Party Line, Jan. 12, 2017

Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D–Bensonhurs­t), who sits on the legislature’s Labor Committee and who is strongly contemplating a run for Council, sent out holiday mailers that falsely suggested they were printed by union workers — then lied about it to the media, the president of the printer’s union revealed.

Back in December, Abbate told this paper that the Christmas cards that he mailed to people living in Bay Ridge’s 43rd Council District — a seat that he is rumored to be eyeing — were made by union printers, even though a label on the mailers asserting their union origin (called a “union bug”) was so poorly printed that it appeared to be a fake.

The head of the Allied Printing Trades Council said there would be an investigation.

On Jan. 9, Abbate claimed the smudged label was simply a printing error and maintained that the mailers were produced by union labor.

“It’s a non-issue. It was union. Everything was fine. Not a story anymore,” said Abbate. “The Allied Printing Trades saw it was smudged, it was a s—– bug, but they okayed it. It’s a dead issue.”

But Abbate lied, according union head John Heffernan, who said the veteran lawmaker admitted to him the bugs were bogus.

“The scribbled one on the Christmas card — I couldn’t make that out as a legit label of any kind. I spoke with Peter Abbate, and I inspected the bugs, and he used a broker that didn’t use the Allied label. So Peter apologized for that and said he would correct it immediately, and I sent him a list of printing shops,” said Heffernan.

Abbate responded to subsequent requests for comment with an e-mailed statement that “the issue has been remedied” and that “the matter is closed.”

Read more here.