Archive for the tag 'elections'

Source: Wikimedia Common

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be avoiding Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods that supported his electoral rival, Joe Lhota, including Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst, according to a report in the New York Observer.

The outlet reports that de Blasio has held press conferences in neighborhoods where he performed well in November’s elections, but has failed to appear at all in the more conservative enclaves of Southern Brooklyn.

Mr. de Blasio, a Brooklynite, held press conferences in Democratic strongholds like Williamsburg, Bushwick, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York over the first seven and a half months of his administration. But along the southern swath of Brooklyn–in neighborhoods including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Boro Park, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach–Mr. de Blasio has not scheduled a public appearance since becoming mayor in January.

Mr. Lhota bested Mr. de Blasio in those southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, in some election districts winning as much as 80 percent of the vote. Citywide, Mr. Lhota was crushed, winning only 24 percent of the vote to Mr. de Blasio’s 73 percent.

Prior to the elections, de Blasio sightings were fairly common in areas like Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach. After votes were cast overwhelmingly in favor of Lhota in those neighborhoods, he hasn’t been heard from. The Observer reports that some in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst neighborhoods are complaining of the same.

Public appearances are one measure of the mayor’s responsiveness to a community. Another could be the dispatching of high-ranking officials to those neighborhoods, and on that there appears to be mixed results. The Department of Transportation commissioner and Build it Back head have both engaged Southern Brooklyn communities and appeared responsive.

At the same time, the mayor’s office gave a last-minute denial to the Santa Rosalia Society’s request for a date change of the 18th Avenue Feast. The request was made to address community concerns about garbage pickup after the event, but the mayor’s office offered no explanation for the denial despite multiple requests.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

With two weeks to go before the September 9 primary elections, the Democratic candidates for the 45th Assembly District will attend a candidates night at the Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting on Wednesday.

The race is a reprise of the 2012 elections, with incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz fending off a challenge from Ben Akselrod. It’s been a particularly quiet race so far, although the candidates have traded barbs on such compelling issues as nominating petitions.

That could change during the 8:00 p.m. meeting at P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street), where the two are both confirmed to attend and will face questions from the public about their views on various issues.

The group has hosted several debates and candidates nights for recent elections, and regularly asks tough policy questions submitted from group members and the broader public.

President Judy Baron emphasized to Sheepshead Bites that this event would be no different, and that all are invited to attend no matter where they live in the district. Questions can be submitted for consideration at the beginning of the event.

Sampson (File photo)

Another allegation has surfaced against indicted State Senator John Sampson, with a former top aide admitting to federal prosecutors that he swiped $100,000 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and forked most of it over to a senator believed to be Sampson.

The Post reports:

Melvin Lowe admitted during confidential meetings with prosecutors that he defrauded the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee out of $100,000 – and gave $75,000 of the money to “Senator #1,” the filing says. A source said “Senator #1” is Lowe’s ex-boss, Sampson (D-Brooklyn), who is fighting charges that he, himself, also committed fraud and tax crimes.

… Prosecutors also said they have a witness who’ll testify hearing Lowe and Sampson discuss the cash exchange.

Lowe is facing tax evasion charges, as well as allegations that he swindled the DCSS out of the cash in 2010. He faces 80 years in prison if convicted.

Sampson was indicted last year for corruption. Among the list of charges is that he stole nearly half a million dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes.

Despite campaign debt stemming from the legal charges, Sampson is still a formidable contender in this year’s state elections. An incumbent since 1996, it remains to be seen whether union organizer Dell Smitherman or homeless advocate Sean Henry will be able to overcome his name recognition.

He also continues to have the backing of the Kings County Democratic Party chair, Frank Seddio, and an associate of the Gambino crime family.

Sampson (File photo)

More than 90 percent of embattled State Senator John Sampson’s donations for the last filing period came from one man: George Fortunato, a reputed Gambino crime family associate.

Fortunato gave the pol $10,500 last month. The next largest contribution was $500 from a lobbyist.

According to the New York Post, Fortunato is considered a “dormant” associate and not under investigation, although he has been identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in an extortion plot connected to Peter Gotti.

Sampson described the mobbed up Mill Basin resident as a “close family friend.” His treasurer confirmed that the pol went to Fortunato to seek the contribution.

The Post reports:

Fortunato, of Mill Basin, has been a Sampson supporter since at least 1999.

Sampson was his defense lawyer after he was busted on hate-crime charges in a 2003 attack on a Chinese woman in a Queens restaurant. Fortunato’s wife, Jackie, and a daughter, Annamarie, were also arrested.

Charges against Annamarie were dropped. George and Jackie pleaded guilty to assault in a deal that spared them prison in exchange for taking racial-sensitivity and anger-management classes.

Sampson was a sitting state senator when he represented Fortunto. That was also the same year Fotunato was identified as a co-conspirator.

Sampson is currently under indictment for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes to finance a political campaign, as well as separate charges for lying to the FBI about a liquor store he owned.

Sampson’s campaign donations came under the scope late last month as well. His rival accused him of running a campaign with a $28,746 deficit, suggesting that the pol was hiding sources of revenue. Approximately a dozen donations also listed the donors’ addresses as the senator’s office, even though they did not work there.

israel

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

A large crowd of Brooklynites young and old, cheering and waving Israeli flags, united in Asser Levy Park in Brighton Beach [Wednesday] night for an emotional and music-filled concert/rally in support of Israel.

The event was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), Zionist Organization of America, RAJE, DaNu Radio, American Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry, Kings Bay Y, Jewish Community Relations Council of NY, JCH of Bensonhurst, Shorefront JCC, Hadassah, Emunah, One Israel Fund, Jewish Press, JCC of Canarsie, Jerusalem Chai, Coalition for Israel, Simon Wiesenthal Center and COJO of Bensonhurst.

In addition to Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, the array of notable guest speakers included Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Michael Miller, CEO of JCRC-NY; Assemblyman Dov Hikind; IDF Brigadier General Ari Tesler; Andrew Gross, Political Advisor to the Deputy Consul General; Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America; Leonard Petlakh, Executive Director of the Kings Bay Y, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Rubin Margules, President of the Zionist Organization of America Brooklyn Region; and Eugene Shkolnikov, Russian-American philanthropist and board member of the Kings Bay Y.

Speaker after speaker took the stage and described why the concert/rally was so important.

“As so many around the world gather to condemn Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorists, it is imperative that we all stand together to show our support for the people of Israel,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “Israel uses painstaking restraint not to harm citizens. We finally need to tell the world: Enough,” he said.

Rubin Margules, President of ZOA Brooklyn Region and chief organizer of the event, said, “We put this event together because it was important to show our support, to be counted and to stand together for the people of Israel.”

Morton Klein, President of ZOA, said, “What would America do if 80 percent of its citizens were forced to run into bomb shelters twice a day from rocket fire from Mexico or Canada? That’s the situation in Israel where over six million of the eight million Israelis are given 15 seconds to run into bomb shelters due to the 3000 missiles launched by Hamas. The world now condemning Israel for Arab civilian deaths is a diplomatic Kristallnacht.”

Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents said, “Hamas exists to kill. Israel sometimes has to kill to exist.”

Assemblyman Dov Hikind said, “”Thank G-d there are no sirens going off on 5th Avenue or 13th Avenue. Americans don’t know what it’s like to run for cover.”

A line-up of internationally known Israeli musicians performed free of charge. They had the crowd singing along to favorites like “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)” and swaying along to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Performers included Galit Burg Michael, Benny Elbaz, Sandy Shmuely, Ron Eliran and Gershon Veroba.

Throughout the evening the crowd vocalized its support with frequent shouts of “Am Yisrael Chai (The People of Israel Live!).” At the end of the night, with the moon shining as bright as the crowd’s spirits, community and Jewish leaders danced the hora onstage and led everyone in “Hatikvah (The Hope),” Israel’s national anthem.

One familiar song performed by Ron Eliran, “Kol Ha’olam Kulo,” based on a quote by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, seemed to sum up the exuberant mood. The song’s message speaks of the importance of moving forward with confidence despite prevailing uncertainty: “All the world is a very narrow bridge. The most important thing is not to be afraid.”

bkunites-israel

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and representatives from several prominent Jewish organizations are hosting the Brooklyn Unites for Israel Rally and Concert torrow at 6 p.m. at Asser Levy Park (Ocean Parkway and Surf Avenue).

The pol’s office said they expect thousands to attend. Sponsors include the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Zionist Organization of America, American Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry, the Kings Bay Y, RAJE, The Jewish Press, Emunah of America, DaNu Radio (87.7FM & 105.1FM HD2), COJO of Bensonhurst, the Jewish Community Council of Canarsie, American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, and the Coalition for Israel.

Entertainment will be provided by Benny Elbaz, Gershon Veroba, Sandy Shmueli and more.

Source: Davidzon Radio

Source: Davidzon Radio

The following is a press release from Davidzon Radio:

Residents of southern Brooklyn demonstrated their solidarity with Israel, Sunday evening, at a rally on the Reigelman Boardwalk that stretched from Brighton 5th Street to almost Ocean Parkway. The gathering was sponsored by Ben Akselrod and Davidzon Radio, which arranged for Sofa Landver, a member of Israel’s Knesset and Minister of Repatriation and Integration, Aleksander Valdman the deputy mayor of Ashdod and Larisa Gershtein, the former vice mayor of Jerusalem to address the crowd live from Israel providing the latest information on events in the Holy Land.

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Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is backtracking on details of an overseas trip in which he spent more than $1,300 in campaign funds at a hotel, three restaurants and a gift shop in Barcelona and Germany, bringing guffaws from good government advocates.

The local pol’s European spending, first reported by the New York Observer, covered a three-day spree in February. Cymbrowitz’s campaign finance disclosures show he spent $189 at a souvenir shop in Munich, which he filed away as “office expenses.” In Barcelona, the assemblyman spent $819 at the five-star Hotel Majestic, and nearly $300 over four visits to three restaurants, including the top-rated tapas bar Cerveceria Catalana.

Asked about the spending by Sheepshead Bites following the Observer article, Cymbrowitz spokesperson Adrienne Knoll forward the following statement which was also sent to the Observer:

As the child of Holocaust survivors, I promised my parents I would do everything in my power to help Holocaust survivors and to not let our world fall into the destructive grips of fascism ever again. In keeping that pledge I made more than 50 years ago, I visited Munich, Germany, and had an opportunity to visit the Dachau memorial site, where more than 32,000 Jews and non-Jews were killed. During my visit I was reminded of the fact that one in four of the approximately 140,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States – 38,000 of whom live in Brooklyn, the majority of them in my district – are living at or below the poverty line.

After a number of Russian-speaking survivors in my district were denied benefits from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany due to bureaucratic snafus, my office intervened. To advocate on behalf of these Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors, I met with a board member from the Claims Conference during my trip to Munich, as well as with a number of board members back here in the U.S., in order to rectify the situation and to ensure that some small measure of justice is achieved.

I also met with city officials in Munich to discuss the issue of Neo-Nazism and how the German government works on putting together programs for the Jewish community to help Jewish seniors and children. As the state legislator with the largest Sephardic Jewish population in the state, I was invited to Barcelona to meet with city officials and members of local, prominent Jewish organizations.

The spokesperson added the following, “[Cymbrowitz] went with other legislators. [The Observer] made it sound like a solo excursion and that wasn’t the case.”

However, after follow-up questions asking Cymbrowitz’s office to specify legislators were also on the trip, the spokesperson reversed course on that assertion.

“One correction….he didn’t go with other legislators. Sorry,” Knoll said, via e-mail.

In response to our request for details on his being “invited” to Barcelona, we received another e-mail stating, “He was not invited to Barcelona. That was an error. As the assemblyman who represents a large Sephardic community with roots in Spain, he went to Barcelona to meet with the remaining members of the Sephardic community to talk about the rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism.”

Cymbrowitz’s office did not respond to additional questions about the “city officials and members of local, prominent Jewish organizations” he met with while in Barcelona, and declined to provide an itinerary or appointment calendar.

His office also declined to explain why $189 was spent at a souvenir shop and listed as “office expenses” for the campaign.

The expenses did not involve taxpayer money, and campaign finance regulations allow funds to be spent at the candidate’s discretion, so long as they can explain how it relates to their office they’re running for.

Cymbrowitz’s spending, though, has brought criticism from Common Cause, a good government group that advocates for tighter controls of campaign spending as well as publicly financed campaigns.

“This kind of conduct, using campaign dollars to stay at five-star hotels, to buy expensive souvenirs in exotic places, simply fuels the public cynicism about elected officials and campaigns,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause. “There should be clear delineation between what is and isn’t a campaign expense, especially since so many public officials don’t seem to have their own guidance system about what’s appropriate.”

Lerner said Cymbrowitz’s explanations – and back-tracking – doesn’t pass the sniff test, and reflects poorly on Albany culture.

“It’s kind of amazing. He’s trying to come up with justifications [for travel spending] after the fact. It just seems to be egregious to justify the spending at five-star hotels and restaurants in the interest of Holocaust survivors. It’s really kind of unbelievable,” she said.

She added that she doubted his claim of visiting Barcelona’s small Jewish community to discuss antisemitism, since most contemporary incidents are in central Europe.

“There seems to be tenuous connection [between visiting Spain and his duties as an office-holder] and there should be a full accounting of the facts and a precise record of his activities. Then voters can decide for themselves,” she said.

Sean Henry (Source: Henry campaign)

State Senate candidate Sean Henry is putting issues of homelessness and poverty at the center of his campaign to unseat Senator John Sampson. For Henry it’s a personal battle, having emerged from homelessness in a story that could have been penned by Horation Alger.

The East New York resident was profiled by DNAinfo earlier this week, reflecting on his own history of homelessness growing up in Chicago.

The Sheepshead Bay portion of Sampson's district, which connects to the remainder of his district via a one block stretch. (Click to enlarge)

The Sheepshead Bay portion of Sampson’s district, which connects to the remainder of his district via a one block stretch. (Click to enlarge)

His parents split up in the 1980s and he was left in the care of his unemployed single mother. They shuffled between the homes of family members, struggled to put food on the table, and eventually landed in homeless shelters.

Throughout that, Henry worked his way through one of Chicago’s leading high schools, joined ROTC and enlisted in the Army Reserve. With help from the G.I. Bill he went on to obtain an undergraduate degree and then a graduate degree at NYU.

He began working for the city’s Department of Homeless Services, advocating for those whose challenges he knew better than most.

From the profile:

If elected, Henry said he wants to fight to eradicate homelessness, not just build new shelters in neighborhoods like East New York.

“We have a record amount of people in shelters and we have to get them out, but we have to get them out long term,” Henry said.

Rather than spend money to house families in shelters, city and state agencies should instead spend money on resources to keep them in their homes, like social workers and housing attorneys, he said.

“We’re spending the money anyway, if they’re going to a shelter,” Henry said. “So why not spend much less and keep families in their home?”

Henry also emphasizes education and more resources to the area’s impoverished schools, as well as fighting for affordable housing.

Henry blasts Sampson’s inability to represent the district while being mired in legal troubles. The pol is facing charges for allegedly stealing more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes to finance a political campaign, as well as separate charges for lying to the FBI about a liquor store he owned.

The charges have apparently kept Sampson busy. During the legislative session this year, he uttered just one word and introduced no legislation. And Henry said Sampson has utterly failed to obtain Superstorm Sandy recovery funds to hard-hit Canarsie.

“I’m sorry for John,” Henry told DNAinfo. “But he just has too many legal issues and can’t do the job.”

Check out the full profile.

Sampson (File photo)

State Senator John Sampson, facing three primary challengers and multiple federal corruption charges, has the backing of Brooklyn’s top Democrat even as his reelection chances look bleak.

The influential chair of the Kings County Democratic Committee, Frank Seddio, says that the organization is not formally backing the embattled pol. Seddio, however, is also a district leader in Sampson’s area and the head of the powerful Thomas Jefferson Club. In those capacities, he’s tossed his hat in with Sampson.

“I’m the local district leader in this area. John Sampson represents almost my entire political district, 59 percent of my district, and he’s been our senator for the last 18 years,” Seddio told City & State. “So our club is supporting him. The county (Democratic committee) doesn’t take positions on these types of things.”

Seddio has put his attorney to getting Sampson challenger Dell Smitherman, considered a leading contender for the seat, kicked off the ballot. The attorney, Bernard “Mitch” Alter, has formally requested that the Board of Election toss out hundreds of petitions – signatures needed to get on the ballot – which would leave Smitherman out of the race.

Sources told City & State that Seddio views the race as a test of his leadership within the county party, not just within the Jefferson clubhouse that Sampson is a member of.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the inner workings of Brooklyn politics described the situation differently, linking Seddio’s support for Sampson directly to the official Brooklyn party organization.

“Frank Seddio, the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, is taking two races very seriously and as a test of his leadership,” said the Brooklyn political insider. “The first is the recently vacated seat of Eric Adams, and the second is the Sampson seat. He is doing everything he can … to ensure that John Sampson is protected and reelected.”

While the county organization might not be formally backing Sampson, there’s little to differentiate between Seddio’s wishes and that of county. Having Seddio’s support, for example, could give Sampson access to campaign donors eager to curry favor with the county boss, not to mention that it’s already given him access to election lawyers as the petition process shows.

Similarly, Seddio’s influence as county boss extends to all of his other roles, insiders say.

One insider with a Democratic club told Sheepshead Bites that Seddio was unhappy with the group after they released their first batch of endorsements, which included Smitherman. Seddio requested that he be consulted on future endorsements – a request that was granted as the club needs Seddio’s approval as a recognized chapter of the Democratic party. In that role, he was able to vouch for his candidates as district leader and head of the Thomas Jefferson Club, but his words were given extra consideration because he’s county chair, the insider said. (The insider notes that they now consult with him on all endorsements, although they do not always endorse the candidates Seddio supports.)

Seddio’s support is about all Sampson can count on, though. The 18-year-incumbent and one-time head of the State Senate Democratic Conference has seen support dry up, raising only $34,000 for this year’s campaign. Smitherman reports having $47,000 on hand, and Sean Henry reported nearly $56,000. Both Smitherman and Henry have also scored crucial union endorsements.

Sampson was indicted last year for corruption. Among the list of charges is that he stole nearly half a million dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes.

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