Brooklyn residents received a higher calling last week: an automated message from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio urging voters to support Assemblymember and Kings County Democratic Chair Vito Lopez and his candidates campaigning in Tuesday’s election.
The “robocalls,” composed by the Catholic Citizens Committee, a Dyker Heights-based nonprofit dedicated to “defendingand protecting the Church from unjust, unwarranted, and unfair attacks in the public arena and preserving religious freedom for all Americans,” were blasted out to registered voters in the 34th District (Williamsburg, Bushwick) on October 29.
The message does not mention any candidates by name, referring instead to Lopez’s record in the State Assembly supporting the Catholic Church’s policy agenda.
“Bishop DiMarzio did thank-you calls on behalf of Vito Lopez, for all his support in the Assembly.No endorsements, just a thank-you call,” said George Prezioso, Catholic Citizens Committee Chairman of the Board.
Calls to the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese for comment were not returned by press time. A volunteer at Lopez’s office said he did not know anything about DiMarzio’s message.
On Tuesday, Lopez backed Maritza Davila, a Democratic District leader in Bushwick who lost the Democratic primary to incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-34) by a mere 251 votes.Davila did not concede defeat, instead choosing to continue her campaign on the Working Families Party Line, setting the stage for the dramatic rematch.
With just two days to go until the polls opened, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani came out swinging for Republican City Council candidate Bob Capano against Bay Ridge Democratic incumbent Vincent Gentile.
Well, the word “swinging” may have been too strong. It sounds more like Rudy’s people said, “sure, use his name.”
When the almighty nod came down on November 1, Capano immediately fired off a press release trying to get as much press as he could on the subject.
“Bob Capano is an experienced leader who has worked with Republicans and Democrats throughout his life to improve the quality of life in Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Dyker Heights,” Giuliani said in a statement (there was no press conference). “Bob Capano will fight to cut taxes and stand up for the middle class at City Hall. I know that Bob Capano will work to continue the progress our city has made in reducing crime and improving education.”
The onetime grocery store clerk turned community activist and congressional staffer said he was “honored and thankful for Rudy’s strong support in this race” and promised to “continue the progress that has been made in our City through the leadership of Rudy Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg.”
It was unclear if the canned comment turned “strong support” helped him at all on Tuesday.
The elected officials who attended the recent culinary extravaganza, Brooklyn Eats, clearly had family on their minds.
Borough President Marty Markowitz gleefully told the foodies gathered at Steiner Studios’ Stage 6 for the annual gala that he had “left my wife at home.”
“She’s not following me,” he noted, “not hocking me.”
“It’s a night of independence for me,” said the food-loving pol, gazing out over the sea of comestibles.
City Councilmember Lewis Fidler was thinking of his son Harry, away at college.
Given Harry’s love of red velvet cake %u2013 which was purveyed in a variety of forms by several of the participants %u2013 Fidler suggested that, at next year’s event, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce orchestrate a red velvet competition with Harry as judge.
But, he noted afterwards, while he made the suggestion, the Chamber hadn’t bitten.
Maybe he should have baited the hook with a chunk of the brightly colored, meltingly delicious confection.
Now that everything is said and done, you have to admit one thing about Republican candidate Joe Nardiello: the man has chutzpah.
Not only did the 39th District City Council candidate looking to replace Bill de Blasio in Park Slope embark on an intense viral campaign in the election’s final days, but he also managed to call out Mayor Michael Bloomberg for not endorsing him when he endorsed nearly all the other Republican candidates running in the borough (Bay Ridge resident Bob Capano and Gene Berardelli, who ran in Mill Basin and Marine Park, both got the nod.)
Nardiello, who said that he promoted Bloomberg in 2001, 2005 and this year, said that he didn’t receive the Mayor’s endorsement because he “sounded the alarm on a resident parking scheme that will tax/charge residents.”
The “scheme,” of course, is residential parking permits, which was shot down when the Mayor’s beloved congestion pricing plan was shot down. In fact, it’s not really a scheme, since there were many people in the 39th District as well as downtown Brooklyn would like to see residential parking permits in their neighborhood.
While the idea was quashed, Nardiello said that “A State Senate proposal” penned by Brooklyn Heights State Senator Dan Squadron (Assemblywoman Joan Millman has a similar bill in the Assembly) could make parking permits a reality.
If so, the bill “will be rubber-stamped when it comes to the council this winter.”
Squadron’s legislation is currently being reviewed by the State Senate’s transportation committee.
“Expect this new tax on the backs of our middle class,” he wrote on an eye-grabbing campaign flier. Residents, particularly motorists, couldn’t miss it. It was disguised as a parking ticket and found under car windshields throughout the district.
Nardiello believes that he lost Bloomberg’s endorsement because of this not so newsy community alert.
“So much for loyalty when there’s money to be made,” he wrote.
Calls to the Bloomberg campaign about the non-endorsement were not returned by press time.
How ironic that a certified funeral director may emerge with the most political life from the aftermath of the 39th Council race.
Who’s the candidate with the best future, according to a usually astute politico? Democratic social conservative John Heyer.
“But only if he moved,” the person cautioned. “He got his clocked cleaned in the 52nd [Assembly District] and even in Carroll Gardens, and the part of that AD not in the 39th is even more socially liberal.”
But if Heyer moves to the 49th AD, which includes Borough Park, “maybe he can make a future, especially with so many Orthodox friends.”
The 49th AD, currently run by Assemblyman Peter Abbate, also includes Bath Beach, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights. It was Heyer after all, who said during the primary that he’s opposed to gay marriage on a personal level, and is also pro-life. “He has no future where he is — he’s the last breath of a dying community,” the insider said. “He could run against Marty Golden or something, but he’s good for maybe 15 percent in Carroll Gardens and that will drop every year.”
Green Party candidate David Pechefsky may not have been victorious in his bid for the 39th District’s New YorkCity Council seat, but he sure injected some sorely-needed adrenaline into an otherwise anemic election cycle.
In fact, with just a few days to go to the election, it appeared that the pugnacious Pechefsky was even beating the anointed Democratic frontrunner at his own game.
According to the Pechefsky campaign, their man actually had more campaign cash on hand than Democratic candidate Brad Lander.
The numbers break down to $35,599 for the former City Council budget analyst, and $26,648 for Lander.
With time running short, the Green Party challenger launched some of the heaviest salvos of his unapologetic campaign.
Among them, his contention that the New York City Council, through the power of the purse, has the ability to scrap earmarks for Atlantic Yards and thus slay the controversial project once and for all - if only members of the city council had the political will.
In recent weeks, Pechefsky has also gone after all-important member items - those tantalizing monies allotted to city council members for disbursement to non-profits in their districts.
“As it now stands, members who are loyal to the speaker or have a constituency that the speaker cannot alienate get the most money, and those who oppose the speaker get the least,” Pechefsky says. “The only way to compensate is by horse-trading votes for money.”
In an effort to reform the system, Pechefsky advocates an even money split to all city council members or a standardized funding formula.
Pechefsky also happens to be responsible for some of the most provocative and amusing campaign stunts of the year - like challenging his opponents to croquet and chess, and even taking them back to grade school, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader”-style.
“Even Brad acknowledges that I have the best T-shirts” Pechefsky said before the election. “But I think people will vote for me based on my experience and independence.”
Lander said that Pechefsky had more cash on hand than he does because city Campaign Finance Board has awarded Pechefsky more than twice as much in general election matching funds, essentially as a way of leveling the playing field.
“That’s their [the CFB’s] way of acting like an equalizer,” he explained.
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