Storobin’s original letter focused largely on building and zoning issues related to the project, but closed with a suggestion that the mosque’s backers, the Muslim American Society, has ties to radical organizations.
A request for a copy of Bloomberg’s letter to Storobin did not receive a response, but something in it must have made Storobin ditch all that language about zoning, and focus solely on those alleged ties and the “well-being of my constituents.”
Akselrod took to a podium in front of Baku Palace (2001 Emmons Avenue), flanked by two dozen or so supporters on Sunday, touting his Russian immigrant roots and commitment to conservative Jewish values. Among those who stood with Akselrod were Russian leaders including radio host Gregory Davidzon and Ari Kagan, as well as local rabbis and Akselrod’s former boss, ex-State Senator Seymour Lachman.
(Akselrod begins speaking in the above video at the 20:00 mark.)
To find a prelude to those successes one must only look back two years, to the last time Cymbrowitz faced a challenger: Republican opponent Joseph Hayon in 2010.
Spending only $615, Hayon reaped 43 percent of the vote – a narrow victory for an incumbent with a sizable warchest.
Akselrod appears to be cribbing from the GOP campaigns of his upstart predecessors – especially Hayon.
For example, Akselrod spoke of curriculum requirements in New York schools that challenge conservative Jewish customs.
“[Students are] being taught alternative lifestyles,” Akselrod stated. “I strongly object to the subjects being taught in school. We deserve to raise our children with the values that we cherish. We should be able to do what is right for us.”
In reality, the bill Hayon and, presumably, Akselrod refer to is the “Dignity For All Students Act,” passed in 2010, to protect students from harassment and discrimination. The bill establishes mechanisms for schools to report and address discrimination and harassment based on race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, gender and – the one that Hayon and now Akselrod have focused on – sexual orientation. The legislation also issued a broad mandate to school regents to develop instruction in “civility, citizenship and character education.”
Private and religious schools are exempted in the bi-partisan bill, which passed the Assembly 138-to-four, and has not yet been implemented.
Though Cymbrowitz’s name was never uttered during the announcement, other elements of Akselrod’s platform were thinly-veiled attacks on the sitting assemblymember.
“Nobody should be defending illegal construction in your backyard because of political correctness,” Akselrod declared, as he rattled off his stances on issues as varied as education (above), small business regulations and integrity.
Notably, at least two members of Bay People were at the announcement to support Akselrod.
Also notably, the mosque is not in Cymbrowitz’s district.
As the campaign gears up, it will be an interesting battle for political observers. If, as in the Fidler-Storobin campaign, the 11-year incumbent seeks to snap up the Jewish and Russian voting blocs by trying to appear more aligned with their interests, he’ll likely lose the battle of public perception to the candidate who is actually Russian and a devout Jew – despite the fact that Cymbrowitz has directed a bevy of funds to Jewish causes over the years and supported the community’s social agenda (such as his vote against legalizing same sex marriage).
However, an Akselrod win would blunt the campaign of David Storobin, who many believe may attempt a general election challenge for the seat as well. Party labels aside, Akselrod and Storobin appear to have almost identical stances on most issues.
However, if Cymbrowitz takes a different tack – a rather unlikely one – and mobilizes new voters from other portions of the community to pull a win, he could redefine the evolving political narrative of the area and create a new power base. But once he gets past those primaries, if Storobin jumps in the race, he’ll be pressed to make the same case twice.
We’re not going to editorialize much on these fliers, since last time we posted fliers it turned out the one that claimed to be from the Muslim American Society was an incendiary hoax. So, just to be clear, we have not checked with either MAS or Bay People to see if they sanctioned the creation and distribution of these fliers. But we are saying that they are turning up all around the neighborhood.
What do you think? Real or fake? Waste of trees? Do they pursuade you to… uh… I don’t know… do whatever these guys want you to do?
The site of the proposed mosque. Local Muslims painted over where a vandal had previously spray painted "He is dead" after Osama bin Laden's death.
A Kings County Supreme Court judge refused yesterday to issue an injunction against the proposed mosque at 2812 Voorhies Avenue that would have required them to halt construction. But Bay People, the opponents of the mosque, are saying the “fight is far from over.”
The morning hearing was for a preliminary injunction to stop contractors from continuing work on the mosque until neighbors’ zoning challenges have been properly reviewed. The motion was filed in April by lawyers from the main opposition group, Bay People, after they got tired of what they believe to be administrative stonewalling.
The construction fencing around the site of the proposed Voorhies Avenue mosque is sporting some new decorations: graffiti reading “He is dead” and happy faces.
The vandalism is believed to be in reference to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Organizers behind the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center at 2812 Voorhies Avenue confirmed that the fencing was defaced after bin Laden was killed, calling it a “hateful act” for likening local Muslims to the fanatics that murdered thousands on September 11, 2001.
Opponents of the Sheepshead Bay Islamic Cultural Center have suspended their daily protests after Department of Buildings inspectors shut down construction at 2812 Voorhies Avenue yesterday.
Bay People sent Sheepshead Bites the following message:
Inspectors finally showed to the construction site after Bay People sent a number of letters to DOB officials and politicians calling out “their gross negligence” and ignoring our numerous complaints on the illegal construction, our zoning challenge, videos and pictures that we sent them.
Daily protests will be suspended for now as there is no construction taking place, we will keep you posted once they resume.
WPIX caught the inspectors on video, pulling up the site. You can see their coverage here:
The Department of Buildings has confirmed that inspectors visited the site of the Islamic Cultural Center (2812 Voorhies Avenue) today, and ordered all workers to cease construction immediately for violations of their partial Stop Work Order.
Upon inspection, the department found excavation work being performed that violated an existing Stop Work Order on the elevator pit. As a result, the agency is in the process of issuing violations for non-compliant conditions.
This morning’s inspection likely came at the urging of Bay People, who had an ongoing e-mail exchange yesterday with Ken Lazar, community liaison for the Department of Buildings, complaining that excavation continued in violation of the Stop Work Order. The e-mail included photos (one is above) and video.
Construction workers on the job at 2812 Voorhies Avenue, January 31.
Opponents of the Islamic Cultural Center under construction at 2812 Voorhies Avenue plan to picket the project on a daily basis, the group Bay People has announced.
Infuriated by city officials’ stonewalling of their requests to challenge approval of the project, Bay People – founded solely to battle the establishment of the cultural center and mosque – is taking matters into their own hands. They announced in an e-mail this morning:
Residents of Sheepshead Bay have no choice but try to ensure complaince with zoning/building laws themselves! Neighbors, residents and our spporters will peacefully picket in front of the construction site at 2812 Voorhies Avenue (on a public sidewalk) every week day from 8AM-4PM until he DOB and NYC will follow their own rules and procedures and enforce the “Stop Work” order as well as force the removal of illegaly constructed structures.
When we stopped by the site at 1:30 p.m. today, no one was picketing at the site, and construction workers continued to excavate the foundation. Calls to Bay People representatives were not answered by the time this article went to web.
Bay People has had victories since the building plans were approved and the Department of Buildings issued permits. Members have been keeping a close eye on the project, with 15 complaints noted on the DOB website since the start of construction. The majority of complaints appear to have come from an engineer or another construction professional, with language noting technical problems and specific code violations not frequently seen in DOB complaints.