Archive for the tag 'theresa scavo'

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

The state agency charged with approving drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers has reversed course, choosing to reject a controversial clinic slated for East 21st Street after initially allowing the project to go forward.

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on Friday officially denied First Steps to Recovery permission to move from its current Brighton Beach facility to an expanded location in a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, called the move a “bold and unusual” step for the agency, and declared it a victory for the community.

Cymbrowitz, along with Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo and neighbors of the building, led the fight against the state after they initially shrugged off responsibility to the city’s Department of Health. Cymbrowitz agreed with neighbors that a residential building on a narrow residential street was no place for an alcoholic rehabilitation center like First Steps to Recovery.

“The location was completely unacceptable,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “This wasn’t a case of NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard]. The same night CB 15 rejected this proposal they approved another treatment center elsewhere.”

The owners of the clinic first approached Community Board 15 in November, under the instruction of OASAS to gain approval. The Board denied the facility on the grounds that it was an inappropriate location. However, Scavo also took issue with the owner’s behavior, which she considered rude – for which the owner has shot back, claiming discrimination.

The Board’s verdict was sent to Albany, but OASAS left the decision up to the city’s Department of Health – which never consulted the Board. Without notification to the Board or elected officials, the DOH granted temporary permits, and First Steps began renovating the new location.

Neighbors were the first to sound the alarm, which channeled back up through Scavo and Cymbrowitz, and on to Albany, ultimately leading OASAS to reverse the DOH’s decision, and leaving Cymbrowitz promising legislative changes to how such facilities win approval.

He is working on a bill that would mandate the New York City Health Department to take community objections into consideration when evaluating sites for outpatient substance abuse facilities.

deutsch-victory-1

Flatbush Shomrim founder Chaim Deutsch eked out a narrow, last-minute victory in his effort to replace his boss, Michael Nelson, as the City Council representative for the 48th District.

It was a tense night, showing a neck-in-neck race with rival Ari Kagan, a Russian-American journalist and activist also seeking the nod in the Democratic primary. From the moment the first voting precinct began reporting shortly after 9 p.m., until more than 85 percent of the votes were tallied, Kagan appeared to be in the lead. But as the final 15 percent of votes were counted, Deutsch pulled off a narrow victory, edging out the other top contender by just 300 votes.

PRELIMINARY VOTE TALLY
Candidate # of votes % of total votes
Chaim Deutsch 3,081 33.86
Ari Kagan 2,785  30.61
Theresa Scavo 1,666 18.31
Igor Oberman 1,307 14.37
Natraj Bhushan 259 2.85

“This election is and has always been about the people. I ran to serve because serving the public is all I ever wanted to do. I hear the cry of help from the elderly. I feel the pain of parents who cannot make ends meet. And I understand the serious challenges facing every community in this district,” Deutsch said in his victory speech outside of his Avenue U campaign headquarters. “I pledge to be the leader who brings all of our communities together to make life better for all.”

Deutsch stood ringed by a multi-cultural group of supporters, hailing largely from the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as from the Asian and Muslim communities. He touted his ability to bring together a diverse coalition to overcome the demographic challenges that arose from redistricting, which turned the 48th Councilmanic District into a “Super-Russian District.”

“It is beautiful to see how many diverse neighborhoods came together to support me and my candidacy and this community and bring us to victory tonight,” he said.

Nelson, who celebrated with the candidate, boasted of Deutsch’s qualifications, character and accomplishments.

“Sometimes the nice guy wins, and this is an example of where it actually can happen,” Nelson said. “He’s been doing my job, so to speak, for a long time. He’s the go to guy when people have problems.”

But victory is not yet certain. Although Deutsch snagged 33.86 percent of the vote, Kagan is a close second, with 30.61 percent. The difference is not enough to trigger a manual recount as seen in the State Senate race between David Storobin and Lew Fidler, but the Kagan campaign said they’re not yet calling it quits.

“Right now it’s a close race. We’re going to wait for all the ballots to be counted,” said Kagan spokesperson Jake Oliver.

With scores of absentee ballots uncounted and reports of malfunctioning voting machines, the Kagan campaign could theoretically rally the 297 votes required to surpass Deutsch.

That fact didn’t seem to instill doubt on Nelson. On hearing the poll numbers come in, Nelson called on Republican David Storobin to pull out of the elections before November.

“Dave is a nice guy. But I think, for the sake of the community, he should concede,” Nelson told Sheepshead Bites. “David, you could be a really good guy, but the community would lose with you.”

Deutsch had his own words for his general election rival.

“You see all the people here?” he said, gesturing to the crowd. “That’s the message for David Storobin.”

But Storobin may not be the only opponent Deutsch has come November. Igor Oberman, who came in fourth with 14.37 percent of the vote, is also on the Working Families Party line. A concession statement from the campaign suggested that he may not seek the seat in the general election, but the campaign has not confirmed that as of this writing.

Following the results, Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, who secured 18.31 percent of the vote, offered up a humbled thank you to her supporters via Twitter.

T

Tzipporah Simon being interviewed about her vote by BIT.

The following post is published in partnership with B Civil, Brooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal.

Polls opened at 6:00 a.m. today, and the first round of voters have already pulled the lever at their local voting site.

Poll workers at the St. Mark School poll site (2602 East 19th Street) told Sheepshead Bites that it’s been a quiet morning with few problems – and few voters. As of 10:15 a.m., turnout was beginning to increase.

Tzipporah Simon of Sheepshead Bay was one of the first to pull the lever there this morning.

“I voted for Theresa Scavo. I think that when she was a Community Board leader, she was passionate and remained passionate,” Simon said.

The choice was more difficult in the mayoral elections, Simon said.

“For Mayor, I was kind of undecided. I made a begrudging choice. Mayor is a tough call this year,” she said.

In contrast to the calm scene at St. Mark School, a reader tells us the I.S. 381 (1599 East 22nd Street) polling site in Midwood is chaotic.

“I was sent to the wrong table, there was poll worker confusion,” our reader said. “No superviser was sent to train the workers.”

He said when he finally tried to vote his machine was broken, which spurred an argument with poll workers. Police pulled him aside to calm him down, and moments later a poll worker came over to ask when his break would be.

Please e-mail tips [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com as you vote and tell us about the conditions at your voting site.

Polls are open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. You can find your polling site here.

This post is published in partnership with B CivilBrooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal. BIT producer Natasha Gaspard will be sending on-the-ground updates to Sheepshead Bites throughout the day from various polling sites in an effort to keep readers informed of polling conditions, and remind them to vote.

Oberman

Three candidates in the race to replace term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson have traded allegations of campaign improprieties to the Campaign Finance Board, burdening their opponents with additional paperwork and spurring them to cry foul.

Five complaints have been made targeting three different candidates. Four of them appear to have come from just one campaign – Igor Oberman’s – and were dismissed. The Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is responsible for overseeing the city’s public campaign finance system, documenting donations and expenditures, and investigating complaints of misused public funds.

The issue most recently came to light in a Daily News report about a so-called “probe” into an alleged “scheme” by Igor Oberman, which they described as “under investigation.” According to the paper, the Board was looking into a complaint made by Ari Kagan’s campaign that Oberman, board president of Trump Village 4, was soliciting campaign donations from seven companies with active contracts at the housing development.

However, the newspaper appears to have trumped up the charges.

According to Kagan, his complaint arose from his concern that Oberman was misusing the co-op’s money to promote his candidacy. In July, using funds from the co-op, Oberman sent mailers to district residents promoting a Family Day event at the co-op, co-sponsored by the Kings Bay Y. The flier had a photo of Oberman and his family.

“[My complaint] is about co-op money. I believe co-op money should be used for improving security, improving elevators, not for promoting candidates,” Kagan told Sheepshead Bites. “I personally received three mailings about him and his family. And none of them were paid by for his campaign, but all were sent to prime Democratic voters.”

Kagan claims Oberman has similarly used co-op money for a variety of advertising, including three large “billboards” around Trump Village. The ads purport to promote the co-op’s amenities and available units, but heavily feature Oberman’s name and face, Kagan said.

If the co-op board’s advertising is found to have intentionally aided Oberman’s campaign, the CFB could fine the campaign tens of thousands of dollars.

Kagan stressed that his complaint did not mention the contractors’ donations. The CFB cannot comment on complaints until a judgement has been made, including confirming or denying whether a complaint exists.

Additionally, if Oberman had solicited contributions from his the co-ops vendors, it may be within the law. Candidates may legally accept contributions from personal or professional contacts so long as no promises or favors are granted, although the ethical implications are up to voters and co-op residents to decide.

“Campaigns may accept contributions from individuals up to the contribution limit for each office. The CFB’s audits of every campaign help ensure that campaigns are complying with the law,” said Matthew Sollars, spokesperson for the CFB.

Kagan’s complaint against Oberman, though, isn’t the first complaint hailing from the 48th District this year. According to Sollars, Kagan has been the subject of three complaints, and Theresa Scavo received another.

Kagan said all of the complaints filed by Oberman were intentionally frivolous, and show an attempt to tie up his opponents with paperwork since the CFB is required to consider all complaints.

“[His latest] complaint was about me not being a journalist. He wrote that I never worked as a journalist on TV or radio before the campaign, Kagan said. “Can you imagine? So of course it was dismissed.”

In fact, all of the complaints against Oberman Kagan and Scavo were unanimously dismissed by the Board. The CFB has not acknowledged the complaint against Oberman, suggesting that it remains under review. (Corrected – see below)

“He filed three complaints against me, all three were dismissed,” Kagan said. “And Theresa Scavo complained to me that he filed complaints against her. I understand hes a lawyer, but why?”

Kagan said he believes Oberman is trying to tie up his campaign with paperwork, rather than allow him to get the word out.

Scavo, in an interview with Sheepshead Bites in July, echoed the same frustration, although she did not identify the source of the complaints at the time.

“This is what they’re doing to me to keep me distracted and busy. All you must do is lodge complaints, and CFB has to investigate,” Scavo said at the time. “It’s a delay tactic, wasting my time while I’m defending myself with all this garbage.”

But Oberman said he’s just trying to keep his opponents honest.

“My opponents were not properly reporting their campaign expenses. Due to my diligence and knowledge of the rules, they were forced to comply with the law. As a Judge, I take campaign finance laws very seriously and am not afraid to speak up when I see wrongdoing,” said Oberman. “I apologize if Ari and Theresa needed to take an extra 10 minutes in order to run transparent campaigns.”

Oberman declined to comment on the allegations made against him, or why promotional materials for the co-op heavily featured his name and image.

Sheepshead Bites submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Campaign Finance Board nearly two weeks ago to provide documents detailing the complaints made and by which campaign. The documents were not produced by the time of this report.

Scavo, Oberman and Kagan will face off tomorrow, September 10, in the Democratic primaries, alongside Chaim Deutsch and Natraj Bhushan. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find your poll site here.

Correction (3:23 p.m.): A previous version of this post erroneously stated that “all of the complaints against Oberman and Scavo were unanimously dismissed.” In fact, we meant Kagan and Scavo. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Alan Maisel

We reported yesterday that more than $800,000 has poured into three local City Council races by independent spending committees, or PACs, largely representing the real estate development and business industries. The groups are allowed to spend unlimited amounts, unlike the candidates themselves, but also cannot coordinate with the campaigns by law. The most prominent group, Jobs for New York, representing developers, has doled out the most, with as much as $6 million citywide, according to a New York Times report this morning.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local candidates, they’ve also spent nearly $100,000 locally to distribute negative mailers bashing the opponents of their chosen candidates.

Predictably, those opponents are crying foul. Just this morning, John Lisyanskiy, the target of negative mailers in his campaign to replace Councilman Domenic Recchia, denounced a negative mailer that accused him of stealing from victims of Superstorm Sandy.

“I am disgusted and angered by a recent mail piece that accused me of profiting at the expense of Hurricane Sandy victims. It is sickening that anyone would stoop so low as to insinuate that I exploited the families I had just helped in return for a few bucks,” said Lisyanskiy. “What these attacks really do is illuminate the shadow world of corporate money in campaigns. Jobs for New York, the political action committee for the billion-dollar real estate industry and the Small Business Coalition are responsible for these attacks. Corporate Tycoons don’t care about the larger civic good, or constructive ideas that move our community forward. They are interested in two things only, getting richer and instilling fear and blame.”

Lisyanskiy and other targets of negative mailers from these PACs have demanded that those the PACs support denounce the negative mailers.

The candidates who have received that support, though, have largely kept mum. Lisyanskiy’s opponent, Mark Treyger, hasn’t said a word about the PACs. And though Ari Kagan, recipient of Jobs for New York support in his race for Councilman Michael Nelson’s seat, expressed displeasure in passing, his campaign refused to denounce the negative ads during a follow up from this outlet.

However, after our report yesterday, Assemblyman Alan Maisel, who has received more than $200,000 from Jobs for New York and a PAC representing the teachers’ union, went on the record repudiating the mailings. Maisel is running to replace Councilman Lew Fidler. Here is his statement in full:

For the third time in about a week, the independent PAC Jobs for New York has sent a negative campaign mailer about my opponent in the Democratic Primary. First and foremost, I want to repudiate these mailings and frankly, if I knew how and it weren’t against the law for me to communicate with this independent PAC, I would ask them to stop. I want to apologize to all those who have been the subject of and who have been subjected to these mailings.

I have attempted to run a wholly positive campaign and I will not condone negative attacks, particularly ones as tenuous as these. I look forward to concluding this campaign with dignity, integrity and on exclusively positive notes.

We’ve dropped a note to the Kagan and Treyger campaigns to see if they’ll do the same, and will update this story when we hear back.

Source: 401(K) 2013

Four  special interest groups have doled out more than $818,000 on just three Southern Brooklyn City Council campaigns in an unprecedented attempt to sway voters, with one real estate interest group spending far more money than the candidates have themselves spent.

The spending is a local version of the super PAC phenomenon that emerged in last year’s presidential race as a result of the Citizens United decision. Major business interests coalesce into a focused spending group to rally behind a chosen candidate – and decry the candidate’s rivals. The groups are not limited in their spending, but New York City campaign finance laws – among the most progressive in the nation – require them to disclose their backers, and document their spending. The records indicate that four independent spenders have taken an interest in three City Council campaigns that follow the Brooklyn shoreline from Bath Beach to Canarsie.

Potential voters have likely seen the effects of independent spending, as political mailers jammed their mailboxes with messages supporting one candidate or blasting others. The largest of the four groups involved in the area elections, Jobs for New York, is backed by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), a group of the city’s largest real estate developers, and has caused the targets of their negative mailers to cry foul.

“Real estate tycoons have had their greedy eyes set on Coney Island for decades. Seaside residents are in constant danger of being uprooted by developers who would love nothing more than to sweep away communities to make room for swanky developments,” said John Lisyanskiy, who is vying to replace Domenic Recchia in the  47th District. “I urge all candidates citywide to reject attempts by corporations to buy their support with outsized expenditures. Campaigns should be about the people we seek to represent, and we must do everything we can to ensure that their voices are not dwarfed by developers and other deep-pocketed special interests.”

“I am deeply concerned that an unfettered influx of heavy spending by real estate tycoons will prevent a fair and honest debate about the future of development in our area,” said Igor Oberman, a candidate to replace Councilman Michael Nelson in the 48th District. “The cost of living in our City continues to rise, and REBNY represents developers who would litter our neighborhoods with overpriced and unaffordable housing units, altering the character of our neighborhood and pricing people out.”

Keep reading: Find out what candidates have received support, and what some say about it.

forum

A sweeping City Council candidates’ forum hosted by the Manhattan Beach Community Group last Wednesday touched on topics including stop-and-frisk, discretionary funding, and the overhaul of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. But the audience, which included active civic association leaders from around the district, was eager to question the candidates on their plans to wrestle some local control back from City Hall and back into the community.

The Democratic candidates vying to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the 48th District fielded a volley of wonkish questions about Community Board reforms, community-based planning, and a potential dismantling of a city agency that many civic boards fault with turning a blind eye to over-development in the area.

Continue Reading »

Council candidate Ari Kagan

Council candidate Ari Kagan

The aftermath of this week’s explosive City Council debate in Midwood is still causing ripples of discontent among the candidates. According to a press release, candidate Ari Kagan is demanding that Chaim Deutsch apologize for suggesting that he has no right to publish his name in Hebrew.

As we reported yesterday, the recent debate hosted by the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition was a squabbling affair. Among the feistiness, Deutsch, on the offensive all evening, also attacked Kagan for printing his first name in Hebrew on his mailers.

“I will not be like my opponent … Mr. Ari Kagan, advertising as the name ‘Ari’ in Hebrew, making people think he is the Orthodox candidate,” said Deutsch, according to Politicker. “I will not fool anyone. I will not lie to you.”

In today’s release, Kagan slammed Deutsch for the accusation, listing Soviet religious oppression as the reason for the name change:

“It is outrageous for someone to suggest that I should not use my name in Hebrew on campaign materials,” said Kagan. “Where I grew up in Minsk, Belarus, my family wasn’t permitted to practice Judaism freely.  My grandmother was killed by Nazis in the Minsk ghetto, and my grandfather died from injuries he suffered fighting in World War II.  I’m grateful to be living in America where I can practice my religion freely and be proud of being Jewish. That’s why over a decade ago I had my name legally changed from the Russian Arkady to the Hebrew Ari.  I proudly use my Jewish name wherever I may be. I have no other name. My name is Ari.”

Kagan then demanded an apology from Deutsch and promised to forgive him if he delivered.

“Chaim Deutsch should apologize for his attack on my Jewish name [on Tuesday]. His words were hurtful, divisive and dishonest. This represents the same old ‘politics as usual’ that people in our community have grown tired of. In the spirit of Rosh Hashona I will certainly forgive him if only he apologizes and promises not to attack me for my Jewish name again,” Kagan wrote.

Deutsch, though, said the statement was never meant to be an attack on the change of his name from Arkady to Ari, but only on the placement of his name in Hebrew lettering on campaign materials. And for that, he doubled down on his criticism.

“What I meant was that he put his name Ari in Hebrew lettering in advertisements in the Orthodox community, saying he’s the candidate for our community. It has nothing to do with what his name was. That’s absolutely not what I meant,” Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites. “When you’re running for office, you have to be truthful with people, and when you change the lettering to Hebrew and say I’m the community’s choice, it’s more pandering and it’s making people think you’re an Orthodox Jewish person.”

With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Steven Matsas, managing editor of Image, Scavo, and Ben-Gurion Matsas, publisher of Image, in a photo that accompanied the article written by Michael Geller, under a pen name.

Steven Matsas, managing editor of Image, Scavo, and Ben-Gurion Matsas, publisher of Image, in a photo that accompanied the article written by Michael Geller, under a pen name.

City Council candidate Theresa Scavo and her supporter, former District Leader Michael Geller, admitted to Sheepshead Bites that a glowing Q&A published by a Sephardic magazine was written by Geller under a pseudonym and with no disclosure of a conflict of interest.

The issue came to light during last night’s candidate’s forum held at the Young Israel of Midwood, when one of Scavo’s primary opponents, Chaim Deutsch, alleged that the profile was written by a supporter in an attempt to deceive the Jewish community.

“When Theresa Scavo advertised in Image Magazine, and the author had a name of Kim Grell, that wasn’t the name of the author, was that?” Deutsch said. “This community is being fooled by our politicians, that article in the Image was a novel. It was written by a person who has written many novels. We cannot be fooled.”

Earlier today, Scavo confirmed to Sheepshead Bites that the article was written by Geller, a supporter and head of the Highway Democratic Club, of which Scavo is a member. However, she said she didn’t see a problem with Geller’s lack of disclosure.

“What crime was committed? Mike Geller is an author, and my friend. Image Magazine does not have an author to write stories, so Mike Geller did it,” she said. “He didn’t want his true name used because the next person would say, ‘Oh, Mike did it for you, let him do it for me.’”

The four-page Q&A article appeared in the July 2013 issue of the magazine, accompanied by a full page ad from Scavo’s campaign. The byline reads “E. Kim Grell,” an abbreviated anagram of Mike Geller’s name. In a touch of unintentional irony, the piece was titled “Full Disclosure Interview with Theresa Scavo.”

The Q&A largely keeps to simple questions about her qualifications and background, but is introduced with a glowing description of the Democratic candidate:

Theresa Scavo is taller than I thought (about 5’9” in heels), and without the granny glasses she wears in her store posters, she looks a decade younger. I’m waiting for her at a rear table in a neighborhood restaurant and as she walks toward me, she is stopped by well-wishers at almost every other table who shake her hand and wish her good luck. She greets me with a smile and a firm handshake, but not too firm. She apologizes for being late and I remind her that she is actually 10 minutes early for our appointment. “For me, that’s late,” she says, and we both laugh.

It also includes a question that asserts that she enjoys broad support from the Sephardic community, the magazine’s target audience.

“Theresa, you are very well liked and respected in the Sephardic community. How did that come about?” Geller asked under his nom de plume.

Geller

Geller

Geller told Sheepshead Bites that a second article also appeared in Image Magazine, also using the pen name E. Kim Grell and written by him, that followed Scavo as she campaigned through the neighborhood. Sheepshead Bites could not find a physical or digital copy of the second article.

While the ethics of using pseudonyms is a source of contention in media circles, it is universally accepted that authors of journalistic works disclose any conflict of interest between them and their subjects in order to ensure transparency.

Geller, a close friend and confidant of Scavo’s, and the head of the Highway Democrats, which has endorsed Scavo, did not make any mention of the apparent conflict in his report.

But Geller claims it’s no lapse in reporting ethics, since he’s not a reporter and was not paid for the piece by either Scavo or Image.

“I’m not a paid employee of hers, and I’m not a paid employee of Image Magazine. She’s a friend and I wrote it as a friend and the reason I didn’t put my name on it is because there’s people who don’t like me,” Geller said. “If Image Magazine paid a salary to me, there’s a difference in what you’re talking about.”

Geller also likened the articles to letters or speeches he’s written on behalf of elected officials and candidates as a district leader for 24 years.

According to Geller, the staff of Image Magazine asked Scavo to provide a piece about herself for publication. Scavo turned to Geller, who has written as many as 10 novels and began his career as a reporter at Brooklyn’s Courier Life newspaper chain.

“They asked her to do the piece, and she asked me to help her on it, and I did. But I didn’t want any of the baggage that I might have to be put on her,” which is why he altered his name, he said.

Image Magazine’s publisher, Ben-Gurion Matsas, confirmed Geller’s account.

“Usually when a candidate runs for office, they want to give their side of the story, so we ask them to write it down and give it direct to us,” Matsas said. “If we [write it], it’s like double the work.”

When asked if he had known that the piece had a pseudonymous byline, he said he didn’t.

“No, I didn’t know. It was familiar to us, but we didn’t know exactly. We didn’t investigate. We don’t know,” he said.

He added that he didn’t much care, either.

“It’s not really an interview or like an objective editorial or something,” he said.

According to campaign filings, the Scavo campaign made three payments of $600 each to Image Magazine, with one in June and two in August, for print advertising.

Asked about the ramifications to the magazine’s credibility from the failure to disclose that the submission was from the Scavo campaign, or was a paid advertisement as Matsas alluded (but would not outright say), Matsas said he was unsure what we meant by “credibility.”

“I don’t know what your point is or who you want to accuse. This is very simple, very plain, very honest, and nothing to do with any other opponents,” Matsas said. “If people want to advertise and promote themselves, anyone can.”

UPDATE (4:14 p.m.): We wanted to get an expert to weigh in on why such disclosure is important, so Sheepshead Bites turned to the head of a professional association of which we’re a member.

“This seems to be a case of the parties involved wanting to have things every which way,” said Dylan Smith, chairman of Local Independent Online News Publishers and a co-author of a recent book on attribution and journalism ethics.

“The publication says they’re not responsible for the story, and it doesn’t reflect on them that the author of the piece has a connection to the candidate,” he said. “The author says he ‘wrote it as a friend.’ What’s missing is any transparency for the readers, so they can judge the piece on its relative merits — and knowing if it’s a possibly paid ad or a puff piece ghost-written by someone who has endorsed the campaign would be a big part of that.”

Smith pointed out that federal regulations require sponsored content posted online to be clearly identified.

The story posted by Image Magazine does not include any notice that it was sponsored.

debate

Screenshot from debate video, produced by Jacob Kornbluh

The Democratic candidates for the 48th District of the City Council, currently represented by Michael Nelson, tested the limits of civil discussion during a heated forum hosted by the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, with each candidate chiding the others for dirty campaign tactics and stances on issues contrary to the Orthodox community.

Sheepshead Bites couldn’t attend the forum, which was held in the heart of one of the most conservative communities in the district at Young Israel of Midwood, but reports by Politicker and NYCElects.com show that the discussion quickly turned negative, as the candidates lobbed rhetorical bombs – and meows – at one another.

Politicker reports:

Unlike in other parts of the city, endorsements from groups like the teachers’ union were treated almost as liabilities. And openly admiring George Bush–either father or son–was not.

“When I went down to the [United Federation of Teachers], I walked into the office and I said to them, ‘I don’t want your endorsement, but I’m here out of respect. I’m gonna come answer the questions and what my issues are,’” said Chaim Deutsch, an Orthodox Jewish City Council aide, to applause.

Ari Kagan, a Russian-American district leader backed by the UFT, fended off attacks from rivals and even prodding from a moderator about whether he would be committed to defending private school education, particularly tax credits for families with kids attending Yeshivas, while running with the support of a public school teachers union.

“Maybe you want to look at Ari, who has accepted the endorsement of UFT but in the same breath says he supports vouchers,” Mr. [Igor] Oberman remarked.

When asked if he supported school vouchers, Oberman said it would never happen in New York City, and encouraged attendees to “see through the bullshit” of what he believed to be pandering in other candidates’ support for school vouchers.

The Politicker report continued:

All of the candidates further reveled in panning more liberal-leaning Bloomberg administration policies like the proposed regulations on large sugary beverages–Mr. Oberman called the proposal “retarded”–as well as the tax burden on small businesses. Mr. Oberman, the Working Families Party-backed candidate, blasted Mr. Kagan for not denouncing independent expenditures being paid on his behalf by a real estate-backed group, portraying him as a future puppet of wealthy real estate developers.

Tacking right, Mr. Kagan hit right back.

“I never knew that I would come from the former Soviet Union to listen about class warfare in the United States of America from a person who also came from the former Soviet Union. I’m shocked, a little bit,” Mr. Kagan said.

As Mr. Kagan and Mr. Oberman traded blows, another candidate, Theresa Scavo, a professed admirer of both President Bushes, periodically cried “meow,” implying the two men were engaging in frivolous cat fights.

“I’m not getting down in the mud with any one of these three,” she declared. “I am finding this so disgusting sitting here, the three of them clawing at each other … the three of you are behaving like children!”

Scavo may have aimed to stay above the fray, but was dragged down into it after Deutsch targeted her for allegedly speaking ill of seniors, accepting the support of the National Organization of Women, which he said “had an agenda with gays and lesbians,” and for being complicit in deceiving the community when a supporter allegedly used a pen name to write a positive profile of her in a Sephardic magazine – an allegation which she “meowed” through.

NYCElects.com reports:

Mr. Deutsch also attacked Ms. Scavo for slamming ‘seniors’ sleeping at community board 15 meetings and for having Mike Geller, the former District leader in the 45th AD, pen articles in favor of Ms. Scavo in the Image Magazine under a pen name ‘Kim Grell’.

Scavo called Deutsch a liar after he made the claim about seniors, clarifying that she told then-Congressman Anthony Weiner that there were seniors sleeping at the Board meetings. She did not respond to the allegations regarding Mike Geller and the article in Image Magazine, but did dismiss the endorsement from the National Organization of Women, noting that she received it because she’s the only woman in the race.

Although the issue was not tackled directly during the debate, Scavo has expressed support for gay and lesbian marriage equality to Sheepshead Bites, as has Oberman. Deutsch and Kagan, as well as the Republican contender, David Storobin, all stand opposed to marriage equality.

From the reports, Deutsch appeared to be the instigator of the negativity, slamming each of his rivals one by one, including an allegation against Kagan that he had altered his first name – from Arkady – in order to draw more support from the frum community. Kagan mailers also printed his first name in Hebrew, another sore point for Deutsch.

“I will not be like my opponent … Mr. Ari Kagan, advertising as the name ‘Ari’ in Hebrew, making people think he is the Orthodox candidate,” said Deutsch, according to Politicker. “I will not fool anyone. I will not lie to you.”

“I am very proud of my name. I legally changed my name in 2002 before I ran for anything. I never knew that writing my name in Hebrew is wrong. What is wrong with you, Chaim?” Kagan replied, according to NYCElects.com.

Jacob Kornbluh, author of the NYCElects.com report, filmed the video below. He told Sheepshead Bites he hopes to have the full version online tonight, which we’ll add to this post.

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