Letters to the Editor, Aug. 2

Politics at work in race for Sen. Duane’s seat

Using an expression from “The Big Lebowski,” when Tom Duane retired from the State Senate, foisting Community Board 2 Chairperson/District Leader Brad Hoylman on us as his replacement it was “bush league sucker stuff.”  Accordingly, I express righteous indignation:

The overwhelming majority of it lies with New York’s County Democratic Party but a dollop is with its fourth estate.  No one finds it newsworthy that a once infamous organization that got virtually every Democratic voter to the polls with precision has been reformed beyond repair thanks to a frontsie/backsie maneuver that schoolyard kids use to cut a line.

The 71st State Senate District includes five of Manhattan’s 12 State Assembly Districts and, at a time when, if only the 40,000 rent stabilized tenants in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are in doubt as to their long term future, our County Leader, Keith Wright, distanced himself. Did anyone in NY State politics or the media which reports on it see Mr. Hoylman as Mr. Duane’s bona fide successor?

One former State Party Leader defended Mr. Hoylman, saying that they liked him, and, that everyone had time to petition.  This is true. But Senator Duane’s endorsing of Mr. Hoylman at his own resignation caught our elected county officials so off guard that they had to immediately decide whether to run someone against him.  And, with so many of them running for office in 2013, they, instead, unanimously endorsed Mr. Hoylman because they didn’t want to faction themselves off.

Yet, when I mentioned my outrage to one longtime outer borough legislator, he remarked: “The Manhattan delegation looks askance at us. But look at what they do.” It’s no wonder that with dozens of district leaders in our State Senate district, only the last Tammany regular, “Jimmy” McManus, cried foul. Surely his candidate, Tom Greco, is at least just as good as Mr. Hoylman.

In my mind the most logical successor to Mr. Duane, had he not wanted to deliver the seat to Mr. Hoylman, was Catherine Abate, the Senator Mr. Duane replaced. But they locked her, East Side Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and all other Assembly or Councilmembers out. Had today’s organization the power to place people where they needed them, Councilmember Daniel Garodnick would have been the most logical candidate.  He’s been deeply involved with the Stuyvesant Town tenants and is on top of the deals that will affect rent stabilized housing in New York for years to come.

I’ve been reading in The Villager that Mr. Hoylman was eyeing Christine Quinn’s seat in the City Council for a year. Yet instead of Ms. Quinn replacing Mr. Duane in the State Senate as she did on the City Council, her handlers have her convinced that she’ll be her party’s nomination for mayor in 2013. But she, like Garodnick who is running for Comptroller, is no lock. Yet, if Mr. Hoylman thought he could beat either them or any sitting elected he wouldn’t have plotted in the dark.

Yet this is not the first time Senator Duane has championed Mr. Hoylman.  He made him District Leader a few years ago. Here’s what the SoHo Journal, January 10, 2006, had to say: “[Arthur] Schwartz’s removal [as District Leader] was both unceremonious and acrimonious and a tad insensitive considering Schwartz’s considerable past financial support.”

The reformation of NY County’s Democratic Party has facilitated our soon having a senator in Albany with no legislative experience when one specific housing deal affects 30,000 people in the district directly and, tangentially, millions of others citywide.  I screamed this in frustration at a judge who I happened to run into in front of my building:  “I don’t care what their sexual proclivities are. We need someone in Albany who can bang on desks and get deals; not a politician whose strongest move is to play frontsie/backsie.”  Their response was the same as the one I usually get: “You’re too practical, Billy.”

And therein lies the root of my demoralization: Republicans tell me the same thing.

Billy Sternberg, ST

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