Sunday, September 8, 2013

NYC Primary Election - Liu For Mayor And More


For my other endorsements in the Democratic Primary election, click here - Scott Stringer, Letitia James, Ken Thompson, Ede Fox, Stephen Pierson.

There are many reasons to vote for John Liu in the Mayoral Primary Election:  Here are five.

1.  John Liu has been an excellent Comptroller and is highly qualified for the Mayoral position.  

His accomplishments and the dollars saved are numerous - some $4 billion!  His stewardship of the pensions has been excellent.  His courage in standing up to Mayor Bloomberg has been enduring and sensible.  Frankly, no one out there questions these things.  Yet, somehow, they don't count for much.  John Liu has a solid track record of performing well in office and that needs to be remembered.  Reward John Liu with your vote.

2.  John Liu is the real and original "progressive" in this Mayoral election.  On any significant issue, John Liu's approach has been comprehensive and empowering.  

Others have tagged along (e.g. - "stop and frisk" and education), but John has been the progressive from day one -- and before.  Again, he gets no media credit or coverage.  Reward John Liu with your vote.

3.  John Liu has not accepted a dime of contribution funds from anyone doing business with the City of New York.  

You hear about the alleged "scandals," but did you know this?  It is unheard of for a Comptroller, in particular, to be so particular -- but John Liu is and has been.  Contrast this discipline with the sloppiness of other candidates, Bill de Blasio included, regarding their donors.  Reward John Liu with your vote.

We cannot ignore or dance around the devastating arrests and convictions that took place over the last year regarding allegations that individuals within the Liu campaign were engaging in illegal fundraising practices.  Two people were arrested and there was a trial.  The trial ended in convictions on much lesser charges than the Federal government was hoping for.  Why?  Because one defendant was a young person who made the mistake of promising a reimbursement to a male friend of a small contribution.  The other defendant was brought in as part of a larger "sting" operation that, fortunately, had a limited impact.  In my opinion, John should have been a bit less loyal to some staff or, better yet, someone at a high level on the campaign staff should have been loyal enough to step forward and accept responsibility for problems "on their watch."  This would have helped.

I believe that John has learned a painful lesson -- one that may actually cost him the Mayoralty.  But, after months of surveillance, and a tough, detailed investigation, John Liu AND his campaign made it through with minimal actual damage -- if one looks at the situation objectively.  Do we believe that ANY of the other campaigns would not have flaws revealed if they experienced such scrutiny?  And when it came to staff misbehavior, de Blasio's campaign had its share of bad eggs -- and they made the papers -- though none had real financial issues.  Let us not forget that even Michael Bloomberg had a high-level campaign operative rip-off the Bloomberg campaign for many dollars.  It's simply not fair to hold a candidate responsible for every campaign employee's activities.

4.  John Liu is the victim of a gross and anti-Democratic abuse of power by the New York City Campaign Finance Board.  

The CFB, whose Board members include three people who raised money for Christine Quinn, denied ALL matching funds to the Liu campaign and thousands of New York donors to the Liu campaign.  The CFB decision was based upon flimsy and often irrelevant evidence, violations of the CFB's own procedures, as well as broad generalizations that were inappropriate, insulting and bordered on racist.  (For example:  Did you know that public housing residents are assumed to be so poor that they cannot afford to make political contributions like you and me?  Last time I looked, public sector workers and unionized workers making decent salaries live in public housing -- some families for generations.)   Take a stand for democracy and decency by voting for John Liu.

5.  John Liu has become a primary example of how our media control our elections.  

When there was alleged scandal, every paper had John Liu in the headlines.  (Yet, Liu was never charged or even suspected of wrongdoing  and two individuals were convicted of crimes that were no reflection on the campaign as a whole.)  When white and some Black voters were aware of Liu's name, pollsters were comfortable with their numbers.  Yet, somehow Asian voters have been consistently undercounted -- along with other groups who no longer rely on telephone landlines.  Based on flawed polls, Liu has received less and less attention and the polls have become less and less accurate.  Take a stand against media domination of our elections and vote for John Liu.

I believe that the future of New York City is tied to leadership that has a strong track record, leadership that brings people together, leadership that forges innovative and progressive approaches to our challenges, leadership that empowers the less powerful and mobilizes those alienated from civic and political participation, and leadership that works really hard to make these things happen.  That's why my candidate for Mayor is John Liu.  I hope you will join me in voting for John Liu on September 10th.

To volunteer for John Liu, go to

But, Chris, what about the other Democratic candidates?

My brief notes on the opposition are as follows.

Erick Salgado -- Charismatic individual.  Progressive economic views but very conservative social policy views.  Unacceptable.

Sal Albanese -- Good man.  Talented.  Hero of past battles against dominant Council Speakers.  Not as progressive as some want to believe, however.  Has not developed a real support base.  Acceptable but not advisable.

Anthony Weiner -- Talented, clever, manipulative, immature, untrustworthy. Unacceptable.

Christine Quinn -- Talented, clever, manipulative, Bloomberg ally and enforcer before she wasn't, latecomer to many important issues for which she now takes credit, Council Speaker who did not choose to reform the Council's operations.  Has a strong core of supportive voters, but needs to expand that support. Moment of truth:  Went beyond passive support of the 3rd Term; arm-twisted it into reality.  Unacceptable.

Bill Thompson -- Experienced but not highly accomplished (particularly as Comptroller).  Talented but not particularly compelling -- a latecomer on many issues.  Not considered a "progressive" at all; very tied to New York City's 1%.  Has a natural base of voters -- but it is not a highly committed one as evidenced by the support within the communities of African descent for candidates other than Bill Thompson.   Acceptable, but not advisable.

Bill de Blasio --  If Bill reaches the run-off and John Liu does not, I will probably support Bill in the run-off.  He is the second "most progressive" Democratic candidate and he has run a very good campaign.  But, for me, he is a distant second.  Bill has been the prime beneficiary of John Liu's misfortunes -- particularly when it comes to television ads and "defining" himself as the "real progressive."  I would love to see a Liu/de Blasio run-off and see how the leading "progressive" candidates handle all the issues when there are only two candidates on the stage.

Furthermore, the de Blasio campaign and its relationship with Local 1199 SEIU have skillfully exploited the most recent misfortunes experienced by Brooklyn's hospitals.  And you know what?  They get points for good execution.  Has anyone asked, however, where the Public Advocate was over the past four years as the LICH and Interfaith problems festered and evolved to their present crisis state?

Why not vote for Bill now?  Why not go for 40% and no run-off?  Because Bill de Blasio has to be held accountable at some level for his support of Atlantic Yards and other questionable development projects, he has to answer for his objection to Superfund status for the Gowanus Canal, he has to answer his critics on "flip-flop" charges such as term limits and "stop and frisk", there are other issues that have emerged and require some public attention (it comes with the territory), and, frankly, Bill has to illustrate that he will be a good administrator and not merely a master campaigner and public relations success.  The Public Advocate's office is not the greatest training ground, and we have some difficult days ahead.

Interestingly enough, for example, we hear very little about Bill's work under President Clinton -- just that he worked under Andrew Cuomo in HUD.  Why not hear more?  Is it because the political realities of today are such that the big ideas of the 1990s are no longer feasible?  Or is it because the list of accomplishments is actually limited?  This is where a Comptroller has an advantage -- even a Comptroller for a shorter period of time.  There's a real track record to work with.

I also don't see any greater value in avoiding a Mayoral run-off when there is going to be one for the position of Public Advocate anyway.  There would be little cost saving -- though many more trees might be saved -- and, since Bill is likely to be in the run-off, he can start practicing his method of broadening his appeal to the 70% of New Yorkers who vote in General Elections but not in Primaries.  No, we should follow our instincts and hearts for this round and then evaluate the outcome. 

One person accused me of not supporting de Blasio simply because Bill was an architect of Yvette Clarke's triumph over me in the 2006 Congressional primary campaign.  I had to laugh.  This must also be the reason why I am not supporting Eliot Spitzer (who endorsed Carl Andrews), Bill Thompson (who supported Carl Andrews), and Anthony Weinter (Yvette Clarke).  Sorry, folks!  No such drama here.  The only two people I "blame" for my defeat are myself and David Yassky -- and I'm sure Yassky feels the same way!  

No, I actually like Bill de Blasio, I like his family and I believe that his heart is basically in the right place.  I just think that he loses his way from time to time due to political ambition and needs to be addressed honestly.  Bill knows that I don't pull punches with him because I have high expectations, not a grudge.

For progressive Democratic voters, however, John Liu is the best candidate in this Primary election.  If you are undecided or if your heart was with John Liu in the past, please go with your gut and vote for John Liu.  

If John makes the run-off, we should stick with him -- and he will have alot more support from others than he does now.  If John does not make the run-off, however, and Bill de Blasio is in that run-off, then we should consider standing with Bill -- knowing full well that he, like our President, will not be and cannot be let "off the hook."

To volunteer for John Liu, go to

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Meet Ken Thompson, District Attorney candidate - Friday, September 6


Invite you to meet

District Attorney Candidate

Ken Thompson

Ken will be speaking about his vision for a more equitable Brooklyn 
and the changes he plans to bring to the Brooklyn DA’s office. 
Ken looks forward to answering your questions, 
and listening to your public safety concerns.

Friday, September 6, 2013
7 - 9pm
141 Washington Avenue 
(between Myrtle and Park Avenues)

Wine and Cheese will be served.


This event is not a fundraiser, but contributions are welcome!

The 2013 NYC Democratic Primary -- My Endorsements

September 3, 2013


Since New York City voters adopted term limits for municipal offices, there have been three significant elections:  2001, 2009 and 2013.  In 2001, the first full regime of term-limited citywide officeholders, borough presidents and City Council members were elected.  In 2009, "the people's will" establishing term limits was confronted and temporarily discarded by the incumbent Mayor with the blessing of a majority of City Council members.  As a result, there was no wholesale change in the Council and the Mayoralty remained in Michael Bloomberg's hands, even though a new Comptroller and Public Advocate were elected.

This year, voters will select a new Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, several Borough Presidents, and a majority of the City Council.  In addition, Brooklyn voters are considering whether or not to return an incumbent District Attorney to office.  There are also judicial races -- a more complicated topic that will not be addressed here.  The Democratic Primary will be on Tuesday, September 10.  That's less than one week away!  If a run-off is needed for either of the Citywide offices with more than two candidates -- Mayor and Public Advocate -- it will take place on Tuesday, October 1st.  The General Election will be on Tuesday, November 5.

As an elected party official and member of the Executive Committee of the Kings County Democratic Party, I have the opportunity to express my support for candidates in more and less formal ways.  In the end, I vote in accordance with my conscience balanced by what I perceive to be the needs of my constituents, Brooklyn as a borough and our City as a whole, depending upon the office.  Here are my thoughts on campaigns other then Mayor (stay tuned.)


I hope that this is an easy decision for you, as it has been for me.  New York City has had some top-quality Comptrollers -- and a few hacks.  This year, we Democrats are fortunate to have a choice between two candidates who are more likely to be higher quality than not.  Unfortunately, one candidate brings serious garbage to the race  -- garbage that soils his candidacy.

Yes, I am talking about Eliot Spitzer, our former Governor.  There are many reasons to question Mr. Spitzer's fitness for the job of Comptroller and you can read the media pieces addressing all of them, but I will focus on two issues of particular importance to me.

Mr. Spitzer, to this day, has not admitted to breaking laws with regard to his participation in prostitution.  Some may argue that this is a private matter -- that it's just sex outside of marriage and a matter between Eliot and his wife.  Well, for discussion's sake, let's say I agree with that.  What about the attempt to violate banking regulations to cover up the payments?  What about the transportation of a prostitute across state lines?  Then, as Governor, what about "Troopergate?"  If Spitzer had admitted all and paid a price for these transgressions, I might have a more respectful view of his candidacy.  But he has not, and I do not.

The second issue is Mr. Spitzer's decision to pull a Bloomberg and attempt to buy this election "because he can."  We have fought against the corrupting influence of big money in elections, we have bemoaned the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and bashed Bloomberg for spending over $100 million across three Mayoral elections, and we have taken stands to the point of ridiculousness supporting the sanctity of our campaign finance program.  Eliot Spitzer himself has been part of this chorus.  Yet now he exploits the temporary -- and inexcusable -- popularity of Anthony Weiner and his own notoriety and combines them with vast personal wealth to jump into what should be a serious campaign at the last minute.  No club appearances, no discussions with local community leaders, just name and dollars.  I cannot support or even respect this choice.  This is particularly true when I know that the only reason Spitzer has standing in the polls is more people know his name than Scott Stringer's -- for all the wrong reasons as well as better ones.

Spitzer is not a person we should reward with a high political office at this time.  Pay some real dues, Eliot, and start humbly and maybe we'll take you seriously in a few more years!  Our Comptroller needs to be someone intellectually capable, politically experienced, and trustworthy.  I can't trust that Eliot Spitzer won't use his personal position to influence the course of events in an inappropriate manner again ... at least not yet.

On the other hand, Scott Stringer has no such baggage.  He has worked his way up the political ladder with a number of important policy successes along the way, both in the New York State Assembly and as Manhattan Borough President.  Scott is ambitious and has taken positions that I know some of my personal and professional acquaintances are not happy with.  He has, however, been in a position where he takes the heat for the positions people don't like as well as the applause.  And he has never had to resign from office.  

As Manhattan Borough President and a NYCERS Trustee, Scott already has eight years of experience dealing with the City's pension systems.  As an elected official with years of experience, Scott knows organized labor and can work with labor leaders to help resolve contracts and address future pension issues.  Furthermore, as someone who has already put together high-performing staffs, Scott Stringer is ready to manage the hundreds of employees within the City Comptroller's office.

I endorsed Scott Stringer's campaign for City Comptroller almost a year ago -- before he had even announced his intention to run.  During August I joined the campaign effort as a consultant to help ensure his victory over Eliot Spitzer.  In this election, Scott Stringer is clearly the best candidate.  All the major papers have endorsed him, along with elected officials, community leaders and many others.  All the polls show the race as too close to call.  Let's change that together.  Every vote will count!  Since there are only two candidates in this Primary battle, there will be no run-off -- its simply win or lose.

I know Scott would be honored to receive your vote in the Democratic Primary election on September 10th.

We need just a few hours of your volunteer time!  Please sign up HERE.   


I live in the 35th Council District.  That district -- an open seat -- overlaps with our Assembly District along with the 33rd and 39th Council Districts.

In the 35th, I strongly endorse the candidacy of Ede Fox for City Council.  Ms. Fox, who just received the New York Times' endorsement and is preferred by the Citizens Union, has been an active organizer within my Prospect Heights community and herself worked for two City Council members who are members of The Progressive Caucus.  

The five candidates competing for this Council seat share many values.  But Ede is the most qualified candidate and has the deepest understanding of policy development. She also has experience working in the Council, where she helped to create more than 1,000 units of affordable housing and helped to bring living wage jobs to the districts where she worked.  Ede serves on our Community Board 8 as Chair of the Sanitation / Environmental Committee.  She is involved in her block association, which borders the Atlantic Yards project.  And she has a strong history in supporting the "reform" movement within the Kings County Democratic Party.

I believe that Ede Fox has the right temperament to be of great service to an economically and racially diverse district like ours.  I believe that Ede's heart is always in the right place.  Now, she is running a strong grassroots campaign.  And Ede is not supported by any outside "super PACS" -- such as the developer-supported PAC standing behind one of her opponents.  All five candidates are credible, but Ede Fox gets my vote as most deserving of the opportunity to succeed a great advocate, Letitia James.  I hope you will honor her with your vote as well.

To volunteer for Ede Fox, go to

In the 33rd, an incumbent closely tied to disgraced political boss Vito Lopez is being challenged by a non-profit administrator.  Neither the Times nor the Citizens Union preferred the incumbent, Stephen Levin, over the challenger, Stephen Pierson -- which is, in my book, a political indictment of the incumbent. Mr. Levin is no Vito Lopez, but Brooklynites need to purge ourselves of the Lopez legacy and its enduring ripple effects.  

Stephen Pierson is a talented and very hard-working person who built a non-profit from scratch and who is supported by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez as well as State Committeemembers Jo Anne Simon and me.  Making a fresh start with Stephen Pierson is a good move for Brooklyn.  You have the power to make that happen by voting for him on September 10th.

To volunteer for Stephen Pierson, go to

In the 39th, incumbent Brad Lander is not being challenged.  Lander has done a very good job as a Councilmember and as a leader within the Council over the past four years.  Brooklyn will benefit from his re-election.


Incumbent Joe Hynes is nationally recognized as a criminal justice programmatic innovator and someone who has served in the position well.  Hynes built this reputation over the course of 20 years of work.  During years 21 through 24, however, evidence has emerged that the Hynes administration has endured and is currently enduring problems.  These problems have been documented in the media.  

All headlines aside, the root cause of these problems is not a simple one.  Over time, any bureaucracy becomes more rigid and blind to its own weaknesses.  District Attorney is not a legislative position where there is an ongoing shifting of seniority and new policy questions marking each day.  If we consider term limits for legislators -- and if we have them for administrators such as the President and Vice President of the United States, the Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate of New York City -- should we not have them for prosecutors?  But we don't.  That's where the voters come in.

Joe Hynes would like to serve as D.A. for four additional years.  Hynes has been challenged for re-election a few times.  His most worthy challenger prior to this year was an earnest attorney named Mark Peters who finished third in a racially defined 2005 Primary election.  Other candidates against Hynes were simply not qualified to hold the position.  But that is not the case this year.

Kenneth Thompson is an extremely well-qualified candidate for District Attorney who has not only garnered important practical endorsements (such as the Local 1199, Working Families Party, Congressmembers Velazquez, Nadler, Clarke, and Jeffries, and many others), he has also been preferred by The Citizens Union.  I am proud to have been the first party or other elected official to endorse Ken Thompson's candidacy.  In doing this, I am going against the Democratic County organization.

Whatever good D.A. Hynes has done will continue under D.A. Thompson.  What will also happen, however, is a bit of house-cleaning and scrutiny that can only improve the performance of the office to the benefit of all Brooklynites.  I hope you will join me in moving Brooklyn forward by electing Ken Thompson as our next District Attorney.

To volunteer for Ken Thompson, go to


My current Council representative, Letitia James, is a candidate for Public Advocate.  A State Senator, Daniel Squadron, whose district overlaps with the 52nd AD is also a candidate.  Mr. Squadron has a strong record as a State Senator since 2006.  Ms. James has a strong record in the City Council since 2003.  Mr. Squadron has the support of Senator Chuck Schumer and The New York Times.  He has raised more money than any other candidate in this contest.  Ms. James has the support of numerous labor unions and elected officials.  She has raised less money.

Two other candidates, Reshma Saujani and Cathy Guerriero, have also come on strong in this race.  Overall, the field is filled with talent and much potential for New York City's future.

I endorse Letitia James for Public Advocate.  Every elected official has detractors, but I have found Ms. James to be strong on critical questions of development, civil rights, and government accountability.  Ask anyone in our neighborhood about the eminent domain abuse battles around Atlantic Yards, and they will tell you that Letitia James was there for us.  Ask government watchers about the incredible CityTime scandal, and they will tell you that Letitia James was the City Councilmember who brought everything to light.  

I worked for over three years for the last City Council President, Andrew Stein.  Stein defined advocacy in an almost useless office.  Through a talented staff (I was a lightweight, believe me) and a desire to change policy, the staff set a high-quality advocacy standard that was raised by the first Public Advocate, Mark Green, though not quite met by Betsy Gotbaum and Bill de Blasio..  I admire all of the current candidates for different reasons, but I feel that Letitia James will be the "pit bull" we need in this position.  Ms. James did not have to run for this office; she was assured another term in the Council.  If she loses, she doesn't get to return to the Assembly, State Senator, or another position.  Letitia James wants this job and I think she has earned the opportunity to serve.  I hope you will agree and cast your vote for Letitia James.

To volunteer for Letitia James, go to

-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

*  Please note that Stringer2013 is a current client of mine and Pierson for Council was a client as well earlier this year.  In each case, my endorsement of the campaign pre-dated my being retained as a consultant and was not contingent upon my being retained.  As stated earlier, I view my role as a Democratic State Committeemember to be a balance between individual conscience and the interests of my Assembly District constituents, the Borough of Brooklyn and our City as a whole.  Any endorsements are made independent of business considerations..

I hope you have found my thoughts interesting and helpful in some way.  Whatever your feelings, please volunteer some time with a candidate of choice during these final critical days before the September 10th Primary Election.  Make sure that your family and friends all come out and vote!

For those about to celebrate the high holy days, may the blessings be plentiful and the new year be wonderful!