It should come as no surprise that Brooklyn political boss Vito Lopez organized a press opportunity featuring himself and an assortment of political pets claiming to be in solidarity with the occupy wall street movement.
Anybody who is known as the New York State Assembly’s patronage king of Brooklyn and has held office since 1984 is far too cynical to believe such a thing can be used for anything more than a good opportunity to say something good – like millionaires should pay more taxes (no shit).
Our borough, our city and our state are full of do nothing, say nothing, cretin of the earth politicians who mismanage state coffers, hire friends and family, manufacture red tape, and get into bed with interests that are not the taxpayers own, because we treat these arbiters of our supposed democracy as part-time employees. Six months out of the year they are at their real job – figuring out how to remain in, or get over on, their part-time one. Then they come out of their backrooms and tell us they are standing up for what is right.
For those who have ever wondered about or ignored the reasons why our state government is so useless, take a gander. We put no limits on elected terms, barely any on fundraising; the folks who are in Albany seem to have been there for 800 years and are known for late night motel bacchanalia while government is in session. They suckle at the teat of corporate cash grasping to remain in office and if they have time to do something good beyond that, it’s measured against the aforementioned interests.
The entire game is rigged and we all know it – from party leaders who compromise away our rights when they take corporate cash and then decide who draws district lines, to the cash that flows in the streets to support certain candidates over others on Election Day. The money is everywhere and the legitimacy is nowhere.
We have made legal the things we would generally find abhorrent if not for a new paradigm: our diluted perception of right and wrong. Regardless of what brought each individual occupier into the streets over the last month and a half, the correlating value among them all is that the way our country operates now is not right.
The reason Vito Lopez and his cronies were out in the streets attempting to co-opt the occupy wall street brand is because if they can claim it for themselves, they can dilute the conversation about what’s right and wrong.
We know there is everything wrong with the way Albany, and in particular the Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, operates, and it’s time to acknowledge it. (Not to single anyone out of course, this is about both parties – the other is now known for spending government time honoring gun running cops.)
I was frankly surprised that the supposed rising stars of Brooklyn party politics – Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries and Council member Stephen Levin – did not do as Council member Letitia James did and recuse themselves from this obvious opportunism. If these guys are so progressive why do they stand next to the old guard?
After Lopez’s appearance on Fox’s Good Day New York morning show mashed up a morning blend of corporate and political interests — Fox bringing up Lopez’s federal investigation, Lopez countering that Fox hates poor people — it might be time to consider retirement.
Now is the time to start a conversation about real change in New York State – fair districting that counts people where they live, open primaries, online voting, technology infrastructure and leadership for the future that is fair and accessible to all. Open up government and the process to the people and take a page on direct democracy from the occupy wall street movement, instead of pretending like Vito Lopez and cronies like him are just as victimized by their own backroom ineptitude as we are in the 99%.
With all due respect, Lopez actually has a very good legislative reputation. He has led the fight to pass a number of very progressive laws over the years, including recently passing a tough series of laws protecting loft tenants. If you knew him, or had lived in his district for any amount of time, you would know that he is far from being a do nothing, that his office is of the old school constituent services model, and that he is something of a work-a-holic. This is a guy that has lived and breathed the Saul Alinsky school of community organizing. Alot of the negative press from the last couple of years has to do with infighting WITHIN the democratic party of Brooklyn, and as you probably have noticed, the press noise has died down around Lopez, because nothing has come of the complaints made by competing politicians.
This website has great potential, and could really end up doing something good, but screeds like this are worthless, and seem to ape the kind of negative stereotypes people have of left leaning activists.
Steve Levin is not the right place to look for post-cronyism reform for the Brooklyn Democratic Party:
And Katie? With all due respect…
This reporter is totally misinformed and does not point to one example of solid and factual evidence that Vito Lopez is a crook or corrupt. I agree with Katie, I see Mr. Lopez in Bushwick and around Brooklyn more than any other elected official and perhaps Jeffries and Levin know Lopez well enough to stand by his side. You know a true friend is someone that is by your side not only when things are going well but when things are tough. People like James (who marched across the bridge with Lopez and stole all the media attention in Zuccoti Park) but she is not what you'd consider a true friend because she plays every side. Leticia James is part of the county organization she comes from Clarence Norman's school of politics but because she wants to move up in the political world she disses the county organization when she gets the chance while still benefiting from it. Atleast we know where Jeffries and Levin stand.
Thanks for your comments! Please enlighten my readers as to which politicians you work for or hold loyalties to – it's always nice to be transparent. To be clear, this is an opinion editorial and not a reported article. Since neither of you challenged me on starting up a conversation on how to make New York state government more democratic, I'll assume you are on board with that sentiment, which is ultimately my goal here. It also angers me that these folks claim to be reformers but really have only become masters of a broken system – co-opting a movement deeply reflective of America's civil rights legacy of non-violent struggle for democracy in light of that is hypocritical and opportunistic.
Just because I am pointing out facts does not mean I work for a politician or hold loyalties to anyone. give me a break. you are a sick woman!
I am very healthy, it's our system that is sick!
Thank you, Nicole. Your description of Brooklyn & Vito Lopez are so true:
Our borough, our city and our state are full of do nothing, say nothing, cretin of the earth politicians who mismanage state coffers, hire friends and family, manufacture red tape, and get into bed with interests that are not the taxpayers own, because we treat these arbiters of our supposed democracy as part-time employees.
Finally, on Jan. 4, 2012, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled that one of Lopez’s signature projects, the Broadway Triangle housing development in Brooklyn, was illegally designed to house Williamsburg’s Hasidic population at the expense of their Latino and black neighbors.
At the same time, his longtime Campaign Manager and ally Christiana Fisher was booted as CEO of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council that Lopez founded, after the city found she falsified documents to justify her $780,000 salary. Go, ahead and look online at their tax documents and see how much more Christiana Fisher was paid than other employees–and how hugely her salary jumped every year. This criminal should have to pay back her ill-gotten salary. Unlike other professionals at RBSCC, Christiana was hugely unpopular with seniors and other staffers, as 99% of RBSCC grants came from Lopez/govt hookups, leaving Christiana and Lopez with dictatorial control over the vulnerable seniors.
You can access the tax forms every registered nonprofit in NYC with income over $25,000. Just go to http://www.GuideStar.org and sign up for free & download the actual tax releases with salaries.
Don't eat in advance: be prepared to vomit at the salaries paid to Lopez's campaign manager (Christiana Fisher) and girlfriend honeypot (Angela Battaglia). By the way, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizen's Council has two different sections and two different tax forms–the most overpaid hacks were paid on both forms so you have to add them together.
p.s. Angela Battaglia– who has a $329,910 job at the assemblyman's troubled nonprofit and a $54,150 post on the city Planning Commission — is one of northern Brooklyn's largest developers, in control of more than 1,000 apartments built with $249 million in public and private funding. Fellow co-workers say she is as dumb as a brick and doesn't really do any development work, just serving as a front-woman for her man, Big Vito.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/meet_dem_own_big_money_honey_LQIEOz2F37TEP5YApw1HBK#ixzz1l4loR7lD).