Several politicos are calling out Brooklyn Democratic Party honchos and boss Frank Seddio for turning a blind eye to so-called true-blue traitors, and even giving them a pat on the back with do-nothing leadership roles.
State Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D–Crown Heights) — who is part of the breakaway bloc the Independent Democratic Conference, which sits across the aisle with the Grand Old Party to give the Republicans a majority in the chamber — sat up top on the dais during the Sept. 19 judicial delegates convention at St. Francis College, and was named secretary of the convention and secretary of the committee to fill vacancies.
Both titles have little actual power, but they signal tacit support of Hamilton’s betrayal to the Democratic party, some members of the party charge.
“It’s pretty clear what it says — the Brooklyn Democratic Party leadership is fine with Democrats caucusing with the Grand Old Party. Frank has said this privately, now he’s made it public,” said Nick Rizzo, a New Kings Democrat and Greenpoint district leader who was the convention. “This is not acceptable. As far as I can tell, there’s no actual duties to this position whatsoever. It’s literally just a way of county to say, ‘We like this person.’ ”
A spokesman for the party said the delegates at the convention all selected Hamilton — who, even before he took sides with the Republicans, took heat for silencing those who tried to stand up to party boss Seddio — but Rizzo contends the fix for Hamilton was in way before anyone even walked into the room.
“Literally this was a Frank Seddio decision,” he said.
A few delegates did oppose Hamilton’s nomination by loudly saying “Nay!” but it wasn’t enough to overrule the room. And what’s more troubling is that Hamilton’s name should never have been floated to fill the role in the first place, because rewarding him for abandoning his party members in exchange for more clout and cash up in Albany is a slap in the face to true blues, said Blake Morris, a judicial delegate in Flatbush, who was also at the convention.
“They picked this guy, they didn’t have to punish him, but there’s an opportunity to reward someone else who is loyal to the party and staying with the Dems so we can maintain power in the state senate, that’s the issue, but instead they rewarded Jesse,” he said. “He’s actually part of the nine Democrats that are actually taking away power from the state party. It’s a slap in the face to all regular party Democrats, that’s a huge problem.”
Hamilton’s behavior is nothing new, said Ernest Skinner of the Ernest Skinner Political Association, a Dems’ club founded by Jumaane Williams, referencing Hamilton’s controversial moves to silence his constituents last year — but at least now, the party leaders should take a step back from supporting him, he said.
“I was shocked when I got to the meeting to find that at the table was Jesse Hamilton. I asked of the two officers, ‘Why is Jesse Hamilton here, and why is he selected as secretary when he acts as a traitor to the Democratic Party?’” said Skinner, also a Flatbush judicial delegate at the meeting. “We have a situation where the government of New York state has been encouraging the IDC, and we have a situation where the Brooklyn Democratic Party is doing the same, when in fact they should be taking the lead to change that. I find it an affront.”
Hamilton’s office did not return requests for comment.
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Former Brooklyn Heights Councilman David Yassky, who now heads Pace University’s Law School, came under fire for his short-lived run for an open seat in Albany because he knew he had a slim- to-none chance of winning, but was seemingly willing to sidestep his duties to the school and his students.
Yassky made moves to throw his hat into the ring to replace former state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who vacated his seat too late for a primary election. Ultimately a current Manhattan assemblyman was selected for the gig, but the move made the school community question Yassky’s loyalty, according to legal literary publication, Above the Law.
“Did he think the faculty and students wouldn’t care that he is signaling to the public that he doesn’t consider Pace Law School to be his top priority? This man is a joke as a leader,” an unnamed source told the publication.
Yassky declined to comment, but pointed to his lengthy e-mail sent to the school on Sept. 16 in which he says he’s staying put for the greater good of his students — though he would have relished the opportunity to shake things up in corrupt Albany.
“On one hand, it would have been very difficult to leave my position at the Law School, especially in the middle of this crucial period. I also knew that my path to the nomination was quite narrow. On the other hand, I love and believe strongly in the value of public service, and opportunities for this particular type of service come along rarely — you can’t control the timing,” he wrote. “I am also very eager to see change in the state Senate, which has been paralyzed for several years by a small group of Senators who have kept the body’s leadership in the hands of one party, while the other party holds a majority of the Senate seats. In the end, the path just wasn’t there.”
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Brian Cunningham — the former chief of staff to Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (D–Crown Heights) — who mounted a primary challenge against Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D–Flatbush), is going for it again on the Reform Party line in an attempt to oust the incumbent in November.
Cunningham received the second highest number of votes, with 3,991, compared to Eugene’s 5,414. The two other challengers got 2,956 votes and just 82, respectively, according to city records.
The Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association threw its support behind Steve Saperstein in an effort to oust incumbent Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay)
The New York City District Council of Carpenters and Joiners of America endorsed John Quaglione of the Grand Old Party in the race for Bay Ridge’s Council seat against Democrat Justin Brannan.