Shrug Off Atlas - A Call For Unity


The word "reform" is thrown around by all sorts - mostly by those who do not care about actual reform itself. Most of the time, it's the power-hungry who use it as a guise to take that which they think they are entitled: the mantle of leader. It's a useful tool because the promise of "reform" calls many "true believers" to action who wish to see brighter days ahead. Out with the wicked ways of old, in with the fresh and new.

But, how often is that promise little more than words? Sure, some change comes, some for the better, some for the worse. But it's mostly in name only - nine times out of ten, no real "reform" occurs. The "same old" prevails, and "reformer" transitions to "establishment". That's mostly because those leading the "reform" movement do not have true "reform" as a goal.

Most of the time, talkers of "reform" spew two things - what's wrong, and who they blame. That's the easy part. But when rubber meets the road, and the transition must be made from spotlight to the trenches - when the real work is to begin - a scant few "true believers" are left with little left to believe in, and no tangible accomplishments. Disenchantment, bitterness and apathy win out as a result.

Such is the case with "Atlas Shrugs In Brooklyn", an anonymous blog (and I use that term loosely) that have offered little than the above to the local political discourse. Let me correct that, they've also added a huge distraction from the real work to be done in this most important time for the Republican Party.

Scroll the postings on the site and you'll see a flame war the size of a California wildfire engulfing all chances of any real "reform" that may (or may not) had been the goal of its unknown author(s) and/or commenter(s). <After all, he/she/they are anonymous - I don't know how many there are involved!> The site is littered with anonymous / pseudonymous personal attacks of the "establishment" - and their families, businesses, partners, affiliated charities, associations and associates. And apparently, victims of such attacks and/or their supporters respond back in kind against those shrouded attackers with ad hominem slings and arrows of their own toward the "reformers" - all without the responsibility of owning their words. I've recently likened the site to the political equivalent of a fiery car wreck where gawkers gather to watch everything burn.

And the site owner(s) do nothing to direct the discourse constructively. To me, that's a clue that real "reform" isn't the goal - disparaging people in "leadership" is the true goal. After all, if the goal was something constructive like reforming the Republican Party in Brooklyn, wouldn't the site owner(s) moderate, direct and transition the flame battles from destructive to constructive? But instead of working toward "reform", no moderation occurs, and a blame game ensues, talking about "so-and-so started it" and what not.

It's a farce of a "reform" movement.

This site has brought the worst out of all sides who choose to engage in actions that would result in a spanking for petulance! Both sides who engage in the argument at Atlas are to blame for its current state.

If this is the best that we can expect from the movement to"reform", then count me out.

Allow me now to practice what I preach: in the spirit of true reform, I put this plan to begin working together out to all parties concerned:

Whether you are "establishment" or "reform" - minded, I think it's time that we all "shrug off" Atlas and its destructive, wasteful culture. No good has come from it, and no good is going to come from it in the near future. Stop contributing to the madness. Let the final embers burn off and let it fall to the wayside of irrelevance.

The bickering, insults and childish behavior must end. It's embarrassing.

To those who want reform: It's time to get constructive. Engage the leadership. After all, didn't Chairman Eaton say upon re-election that his door is open? If you believe him or not is not the issue - hold him to his words! Some have already. If you see that no one is there on the other side of the door to listen, then call him and the leadership out for not keeping their word.

Also, if you are true to reform, then stand up and be counted for reform. Let everyone know who you are. Come out of the shadows of anonymity. Take it from someone who stepped up to a challenge, you will have your name dragged through some mud, but you will earn respect and gratitude as well.

Finally, don't wait to be invited in - knock down the door if you have to. Change is never invited, so push, prod, nudge, but always in the spirit of cooperation.

To those currently in the leadership: If we are to grow, and ultimately win, we must be inclusive. Welcome newcomers and their ideas. How many times have we all complained that we need more people to shoulder the load? Give them direction and the benefit of your knowledge. New is NOT always bad. There is some enthusiasm out there to be embraced and harnessed in the year to come. We have a great opportunity here that we cannot waste, because if we do, then a generation of Republicans suffer for our waste.

The most important political cycle is upon all of us. We need all hands on deck. We need to have our ships sailing in the same direction. We need all resources and all energies directed together. If we don't, then we lose. It's that simple. We need soldiers willing to work and learn standing on the front lines fighting for the ideals that will ultimately save our state - less, more efficient government that doesn't tax the life out of all of us.

I know I will devote all of my efforts toward victory. Will you?

For Sale: State Senator

(People are going to say that by what writing what you’re about to read that I am once again throwing my hat into the political ring. Let me state upfront and definitively that I am not now nor will I be a candidate for any office in 2010. With that disclaimer in mind, let’s get into it.)

Brooklyn is suffering from a political infirmity named Carl Kruger.

The man is a local embarrassment and a blight in the State Senate, which is saying a lot considering the state of the Senate.

Local papers and blogs have recently picked up on Mr. Kruger’s most recent behavior in the setting of the state’s fiscal crisis - and Mr. Kruger's uncanny tendency to vote in favor of the position of his hefty political donors. I encourage you to read Ned Berke’s summary of recent events on Sheepshead Bites. I won’t re-hash what Ned so ably covered, so go check it out!

Here is one nugget that Ned missed from the Village Voice:
Proof that Kruger operates on a different planet from the rest of us came in March when the Voice tried to ridicule him as the would-be Hugo Chavez of south Brooklyn. The article described hordes of cheering constituents shouting, "All the way with Chairman K!"

This effort at mockery failed miserably. Kruger had an aide call up and ask for permission to reprint the article, "Vanguard of the Senate Revolution."

We weren't sure we heard him right. "He wants to reprint it?" we asked.

"Yes, he's very proud of it," the aide insisted.

This proved conclusively that satire is always dangerous when dealing with the deranged. "Go ahead," we told him. "Knock yourself out."
Singular point of view notwithstanding, those who have seen him in action know that what has recently reached the mainstream media is par for the course for our Senator. Whether it’s accepting over $100,000 from developers with projects in Sheepshead Bay that virtually destroyed our waterfront during the building boom (check the archives of “Friends of Carl” from 2004 and 2005 – he was the developer’s best friend, as exhibited by this flyer that was circulated during the Sheepshead Bay re-zoning), his hypocrisy in crusading to “preserve” said waterfront he gladly took money to destroy in confronting Cherry Hill Market, we know locally Mr. Kruger hasn’t met a dollar he didn’t like.

Clearly, Mr. Kruger cares only about Mr. Kruger. According to many conversations I’ve had over the years, he indiscriminately screws over friend and foe alike if it suits him. And in doing so, he takes no position of his own – let alone represents his constituency’s position - and gladly accepts money from anyone and everyone, no matter the cause or position.

In many respects, Mr. Kruger imposes personality over progress. Being part of a decision isn’t enough - he must have the spotlight. And more often than not, matters are left worse off as a result of his participation. He is the proverbial sound and fury that ultimately signifies nothing. In political parlance, he’s a “wind bag”.

In my humble opinion, Mr. Kruger is an embarrassment to our community, but at the same time, I believe that we really have no one to blame but ourselves for sending this blight back to Albany election after election. We enabled him. We are his accomplices silently letting him run roughshod over NY State and our community.

The enabling must stop for our sake, and the sake of the State. It’s time to put an end to Mr. Kruger’s term of service.

It’s our responsibility to make things right by removing Mr. Kruger from office. I don’t care if you’re Republican , Democrat, Independent, Martian, whatever – I think we all recognize that Mr. Kruger’s brand of politics is counter-productive. We can no longer stand idly by and allow this man to continue in his selfish and destructive manner of governing.

I only hope that someone steps up to this battle – I know I will stand behind that person.

Is That A Challenge? Damn Right It Is!

If you came looking for a post-mortem of my City Council campaign, then you'll go wanting. The time for reflection is over - I'll gladly discuss the intricacies of the campaign with those who wish to really delve into the details one-on-one.

So for now, I take a cue from the campaign: Move Forward. Never Look Back.

And it's of "moving forward" that I wish to talk about today. I'll keep this short.

Today, the Kings County Republican Committee took up the cause of some young HS students who wished to speak out against "Obama-Care". but their school wouldn't allow them under their own name for fear of losing their non-profit status. Their parents even went as far as to say that they couldn't use their own last names for fear of reprisal. The rally, held in Bay Ridge, was well attended given the timeliness of notice and organizing effort of both students and others. By all accounts, the crowd in attendance - many of whom were faces I hadn't seen at other events - left with a positive view of the effort, and were roused by some great speeches, especially from one student organizer.

Then I come home and go online, and find whining and complaining and ridiculous conspiracy theories about this event, probably by those who either didn't attend or who still choose to put hubris ahead of working for progress. I won't even dignify the comments with a link.

So for me, it's "line in the sand" time.

For nearly a month now within the Kings County Republican Party, I've seen nothing but idle prattle from all sides, but especially from those who feel "reform" amounts to anonymous personal attacks mixed in with continuous bitching and sentiments of entitlement. While I understand the need to vent frustration for perceived wrongdoing, the time has come and passed.

Now is the time for new ideas, new points of view and to put aside hubris and paranoia. It's time to work.

So to all, I issue this challenge: You have an idea? You think you can fix things? You know better?

Bring it.

I want to hear it all. Let's get past the pettiness and let's get constructive. Use the comments section and brainstorm for all to see. And I don't mean comments like "We need _____." - if you're pointing out a problem, offer a solution. Show that you have something valuable to offer in word, if not in deed.

I promise that I won't hold back in praise or critique - and personality will not come before substance. The only condition I have is that you use your real name as a sign that you have the courage of your convictions and will be accountable.

Anyone can complain. Let's get real.

Convention-al Wisdom


I'm taking a break from the VERY busy business of running a City Council campaign to talk about participating this past week at the Kings County Republican Convention. Get ready for a really long posting.

Some of you may have read about the contention between our current GOP Chair, Craig Eaton, and his erstwhile critic, Dr. Arnaldo Ferraro of the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Club. For the past two years, I've seen this animosity bubble over between Mr. Ferraro's supporters and what has always appeared to me as the entire remaining Republican Committee. Basically, if Craig said that the sky is blue, the opposition said the sky was red.

I don't profess to know anything about the root of this animosity, as I am still relatively new to the Committee. And I won't print rumor and supposition here. You know me by now - I try to deal in fact and first-hand accounts. I'll leave setting the scene to YourNabe.com

Needless to say, this was a quick, dirty race. Allegations from all sides of proxy tampering, untruths, vicious attacks and all that comes with it were rampant. For my part, I received no campaign mail from either side - only a letter from a leader discussing a personal matter which has since been published online.

***

So let's fast forward to the Convention. As a Vice-Chair of the Law Committee, I was of course a part of the credentialing committee charged with examining proxies turned in by all party members. We examined each and every proxy to make sure that they were originally signed and dated by a County Committee member. After examining the proxies, each entry was logged into a computer spreadsheet that was programmed to not only log in all the names, but to override duplicate proxies so that the latest signed proxy was the only one that counted. If there were questions as to signatures, buff cards from the BOE were available for review. I didn't call any signatures into question, but I did disqualify proxies from both campaigns for being incomplete, or in some cases filled in by persons other than the member.

All of this was overseen not only by our Law Committee chair Ted Alatsas, but representatives of the Ferraro campaign. All were able to examine all proxies, all computer entries - everything.

The process was a model of transparency, in my opinion.

In between counting, I tried to talk to as many people as I could. I spoke a lot with many of the young people there that I had met at Brooklyn YR meetings.

***

So while the votes was being compared to the sign-in list of all the County Committee members present, time had to be filled - we're talking over a thousand proxies and over 100 attendees. So, all of the candidates in attendance were invited to speak.

By invited, I mean "Gene, we need to fill time. You're going to speak. Get ready."

Alrighty then.

The speeches were opened by Sen. Marty Golden. He has a knack for contemporaneous speaking. I always think he's at his best when he's prepared, but allowed to be Marty instead of sticking to a prepared speech. But anyways...

Mike Allegretti, who is running for Congress against Rep. McMahon, spoke next. I have to say, I really like Mike - he's young, he's energetic, and he's smart. Plus, he's a genuinely nice guy - that comes out a lot when you speak to him one-on-one. Regardless of what happens with my race, I will be helping with his campaign next year. He's someone you should make your business to get to know.

Next up was Joe Nardiello, a candidate running for city council against Brad Lander. He spoke well, talking a lot about the issues his campaign was facing. I could tell that he had a lot more to say, but Marty kind of gave him a nudge to wrap things up. Joe gave the kind of speech that you expect to hear on a campaign stop, talking about his opponent.

I was up next. I hadn't planned remarks, so I went for passion instead of your garden-variety issue oriented speech. The crowd needed to be pumped - after all, this was a convention, not an oil painting! So I gave 'em some hell. One time, I was so fired up that i lost my train of thought! After about a minute, I quickly exited the stage. Marty shook my hand, said "good job", and I went to check on how the count was going - my good friends Bob Capano and Marc D'Ottavio then spoke... I wish I had a chance to hear them. We all later posed for the photo you see below.



***

After another longish delay, the convention officially kicked off. Ted Alatsas was appointed presiding chair for the evening. (A word about Ted - I really have to complement his even-handedness throughout the entire process. He was fair, cordial and worked harder than anyone on this night.)

Right away, there were objections to the proceeding. My friend, Jonathan Judge (President of the YRs) and Fred Martorell, an attorney I am acquainted with who is a leader affiliated the Ferraro campaign, objected to just about everything you can object to - Ted's appointment as presiding chair, the proxy count, the method of the proxy count, rules for the evening. Everything. This fit in with the impression I've had for so long - much of the opposition is contrary for the sake of being contrary. This was their right, but it didn't endear them to the assembly. Every vote called for was in favor of Craig Eaton's supporters - consisting of what I believe was 80% of the people in the room (I believe that the one polled vote was 81 to 24)

The majority was none too pleased.

It should be noted that there was a reported "glitch" in the proxy count where incorrect proxy tallies were initially given. The incomplete count given earlier was replaced with another count that improved the number of proxies in favor of Mr. Ferraro. Obviously, this was not welcomed news to anyone. This news would cast somewhat of a pall on the evening - the losing side could cry "foul" based on an unfortunate technological aberration. But I once again applaud the transparency of it all.

***

When it finally came to getting down to it, emotions were running a little high. Ferraro supporters saw the writing on the wall as the time came to announce the slates for nomination to the Executive Committee.

The so-called "Eaton slate" was announced, of which I was included as part of the Law committee.

The so-called "Ferraro slate" was announced, of which I was included as part of the Law committee.

Wait... what?

Apparently, I hadn't mistakenly heard my name twice - it actually was said. I had been nominated by both sides to keep my position. Does that make me the most popular Republican in Brooklyn? Move over, Marty!

Anyways, once announced, each nominee for chair was given 5 minutes to speak. Instead of hearing from Mr. Ferraro, Fred Martorell rose to "introduce" him.

That introduction took 6 minutes.

Ted Alatsas then allowed Mr. Ferraro an additional minute to speak, and he did. Craig Eaton then followed and was allotted equal time.

A committee member called for others to abstain in the vote, which drew applause. Frankly, I can't stand fence-sitters. Leaders lead.

In the end, the votes cast for Craig Eaton was overwhelming, in my opinion. I was one of them.

Craig gave a victory speech, extending an olive branch to all to work with him in the coming year to keep the Party growing.

The convention then came to a close.

***

I think I've tried to make this a balanced recollection of events. I didn't go into the substance of speeches all that much because I didn't want to mis-characterize what was said. If I recalled something incorrectly, the hounds would be released!

So let me unload some (more) opinion right now.

I have had few dealings with the principals of the Ferraro campaign, but I will say that all were cordial towards me. I did see passionate arguments between sides, many of which will probably result in bad feelings, and that's unfortunate.

As far as winners and losers go, I would say that if I was the "most popular" Republican (I am So going to try to get as much mileage out of that notion as possible - damn my ego!), Jonathan Judge was among the least popular. I like Jonathan - I credit him with making me a bit more of an idealist than I was months ago. But, I think he took ideals past their point of reality. You can't drag a horse to water and force them to drink even if you shove their head into the stream, and that's what Jonathan was trying to do.

As I said, leaders lead, but leaders also listen to those around them. He didn't win many friends, and he probably lost supporters from the senior members of the Committee. I hope the YRs don't suffer as a result, as the reputation of younger Republicans was hurt, according to conversations I had post-convention.

***

There are lots of critics saying that the party isn't growing. Well, I'm living proof of that growth - I'm a young Republican that got involved a little over two years ago. I was not only welcomed aboard, but given a leadership role. When I expressed interest in campaigning for City Council, I was welcomed with open arms. I have received both moral and financial support from members and the party itself. Craig himself has shown up to every event I've had - even the sparsely attended ones.

I have heard the arguments for "change", and I fervently disagree. Craig has been in control for one term. Two years. He immediately came into office during the whole Vito Fossella drama, and as a neophyte chair, had little influence over candidate selection - especially with SI controlling 70% of the district. But to his credit, Craig called a special meeting of the KCRP where we interviewed candidates on our own, and made recommendations. Blaming him for the hand dealt by SI is laughable to those who know.

He then had to deal with organizing the party in the context of a national campaign. He was part of organizing support for Rudy, busing Republicans to primary battlegrounds and organizing volunteers. When Rudy's campaign flopped, he was the first to come out to support John McCain - the first of many "firsts" to come that brought greater visibility to the party.

This year, he showed leadership in filling the line for Mayor, making decisions that benefited the party as a whole financially and publicly. The fact that Brooklyn came out for Mayor Bloomberg first gave our party a solid financial base, but was a coup in press coverage. Word was now out that Brooklyn's party was rising. The "Draft Rudy" public campaign was another way for Republicans to break news. And he has since joined other "Draft Rudy" efforts, even traveling upstate to garner support for the initiative.

Finally, Craig had the foresight to become one of (if not, the) first chairs to openly support Ed Cox for State Chair. With his victory, Brooklyn should benefit from Mr. Cox's experience and financial acumen.

These successes far outweigh any perceived shortcomings.

Recently, Craig has taken a lot of cheap shots - name-calling, insults, allegations - all from anonymous shadows on a less-than-credible website. I hope the people that I think are behind the website are really not associated with it. These potshots are unwarranted and despicable not only for their content, but for their cowardice. But even more so to me because having gotten to know Craig and having seen all the effort he's put forth, he surely doesn't deserve it.

They're also an slap in the face for people like me who are out there fighting the fight for the party - these keyboard jockeys talk big, but don't act. So to all of them, I repeat my mantra - pound pavement, not keyboards.

You've been invited by Craig Eaton to get involved. Instead of punking out and deriding the invitation as disingenuous, take him up on it. Judge him first-hand on his actions towards you. That's what I did - and look where I am. The "change" that you so desperately crave can also come from within.

I invite you as well - my election is weeks away. I'm going to need Election Day volunteers on every corner of the district. Help get the word out about the party. Pick any candidate you want. Get involved. Get in the trenches. Get out the vote.

Post-Primary: Politics STILL Before People

Primary Day saw the biggest turnover of City Council members in many years - with more possibly still to come.

Some ousted Members took their losses gracefully, while others are being dragged kickin' and screamin' out of office. The people spoke loud and clear. Some incumbents lost, while others were given quite a scare - even the Speaker of the City Council, Christine Quinn wasn't immune from the brave new world of voters angry about what their government hath wrought as of late. Speaker Quinn still isn't out of the woods - she has a leadership battle looming in the future.

Beyond the city's primary elections, voters are standing up to be heard. No matter which side you fall on the national health care debate, you cannot deny that the people of this country are letting their voice - no matter how shrill it may be - be heard.

The rules of "the game" are changing. The people are speaking loud and clear. The message is that WE set the agenda. WE set the priorities.

Now that Primary Day is over, the election scene shifts to our area. I know I've evaluated our campaign's game plan to listen to what the people's priorities are - I"m sure the Councilman has as well... or maybe not.

If his actions are any indication, it seems like Lew's priorities are different than the people's - again.

Some people just never learn.

Lew's been too busy stumping for other buddies of his, like Bill Thompson (the same Bill Thompson who stole my slogan!) and Mark Green - while at the same time ripping his favorite target, Mayor Bloomberg - or he's counting votes for Darlene Mealy (whose claim to fame in City Council is giving discretionary funds to a "nut job") or any number of other tasks that have nothing to do with our district directly.

Once again - politics before people.

(Here's one of my famous tangents - we desperately need REAL reform of discretionary funding that rewards organizations based on merit and need. Lew Fidler thinks that a system based on such fairness cannot exist because Manhattan will dominate the funding - I say that's a scare tactic to keep the broken system that he "works" so well in place. Talk about seriously underestimating the power of reform!)

And then we'll hear an occasional story about legislation, and how Lew is sitting on the fence.

Lew's priorities have been to further HIS agenda - the Democratic Party's agenda. Like I said earlier, some folks never learn.

On November 3rd, give Lew another Civics lesson - one he won't forget.

Media Blitz!

Something has been happening lately that I haven't seen before in this area of Brooklyn: there is actual coverage of a real political race. And I'm in the middle of it!

Don't just take my word for it - look at the local papers. So few of us do on a regular basis, but check it out. From whatever incarnation of Courier Life Publications (CNG) to the Canarsie Courier, we can all read about a local race where we have a Republican and a Democrat actively campaigning, bringing issues and solutions to the people in the district who care to listen.

And it's not happening in Bay Ridge, either!

Courier Life has jokingly called it the "Fight of the Century" based, in part, on what they call my "pugnacity" and have even created a political caricature to go along with their coverage, for goodness sakes.

When is the last time THAT happened 'round these parts!

This is the start of something big. The papers have started to take notice of this race, and I hope that the people shortly follow.

Another little victory came out of this campaign - politics around here is changing. There is no "token" challenge here, there's a real race. That's a victory we can all share!

I'm still a longshot in this council race - no doubt. But not as much of one as I was yesterday. And as long as we keep getting the word out - through the media, different events, word of mouth, whatever! - those little victories may add up to a really big one in November!



"Bully" Pulpits, TV Cameras and a Naked Cowboy Fully Clothed

It's been a pretty eventful week - let's recap it, shall we?

So some of you probably saw the little spat that the Councilman and I had on GerritsenBeach.net. For those who missed it, check it out here - it's in the comments.

Some people will say that what I did was a cheap political trick or tactic. Other will call it a n unnecessary personal attack on Lew. Those that think that don’t know me. Because the fact of the matter is that I've been doing this for years to friend and foe. This is how I've acted before becoming politically involved, it's how I act now and it'll be how I conduct myself if elected - I stand up for what I think is right.

In fact, a comment much like that was one of my first documented statements from my volunteer work with the Civic Association. Back during the Sheepshead Bay re-zoning, I read a Letter to the Editor from Steve Barrison of Bay Improvement Group unnecessarily insulting Community Board 15, and Sheila Nelson specifically (God Bless, Shiela… we miss you). Back then, I didn’t know anyone and had no political connections, but I took it upon myself to take Mr. Barrison to task with my own Letter to the Editor. I had no dog in the fight, but I saw something wrong and I spoke out against it.

Since then, I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing, like those two adventures I had in Manhattan Beach, or like my fight for Brigham Park. I even spoke out against Alan Maisel recently - and I consider him a good friend of the family!

It’s not about popularity, or about going along to get along – it’s about doing the right thing.

So when I saw our Councilman going out of his way to insult an anonymous poster (who by the way was off on his facts), I spoke up. Plain and simple. Being in public office doesn't give anyone the right to insult anybody. Lew was right to correct misinformation - but his second comment was, as he said in his own apology, "gratuitous and unnecessary".

***

Besides the adventures online this week, I had some great campaign experiences.

I started the week at 30 Rockefeller Center and NBC Studios to film my contribution to the Video Voter Guide. I took my dad along for the ride as we received a behind-the-scenes tour of what it’s like to film a real TV segment – even if for only two minutes of air-time! It was really great to get to use a teleprompter (an awesome invention – no thinking necessary, just read! Maybe that’s why politicians and TV Personalities use it so much!) and stand in front of a green screen (just like another Berardelli that works in TV! Shout out to my cousin Jeff, formerly of CBS 2 New York, currently working in Tampa FL). But the best part was Dad being there to see it all! We did two takes in less than 10 minutes, then saw the finished product.

Afterwards, we ran into Brian Williams in the lobby of 30 Rock – sorry, no Tina Fey.

I’ll be sure to link the Video Voter Guide spot once it’s up and running!

After that, I went to the Campaign Finance Board’s mandatory class, and who should I meet but Robert Burck. He’s a candidate running for Mayor – you probably know him better as “The Naked Cowboy”.

I swear, I didn’t recognize him at all! Anyways, Robert, Todd (his campaign manager) and I got to talking politics, and I was pleasantly surprised by his grasp of the issues and his strong feelings towards his candidacy. This is no publicity stunt – or at least not just publicity, in my opinion. I believe that Robert has something to offer to the public discourse in this race - if we can all get beyond the tidy-whiteys.

If our political scene has room for characters like Schwarzenegger, Ventura and Franken –why not a naked cowboy?

***

In the coming days, I’m going to be announcing a lot of events and opportunities to volunteer. Keep your eyes peeled for some great events!

Kickin’ Things Off With a BANG!


For those of you who couldn't make it to my campaign kick-off, he's a copy of my speech –No funny pictures. I'm serious with this one, folks. Oh, and it includes a special message for a certain "Democratic Opponent". Happy reading -GB

They say you can tell a lot about a man by the company he chooses to keep. I hope you see why I consider Alex Zablocki, Joe Mendola and Marc D'Ottavio friends – they are articulate energetic professional who want to make a difference. I hope you can spread the word about their campaigns and make your family and friends aware that there is an alternative to the same-old, same-old.

I have to say, the last place I ever thought I'd be is here speaking to all of you about why you should vote for me. But when term limits was overturned, we all received a rude wake-up call.

Lew Fidler turned his back on all of us because he decided that he was the only one from our community who could help solve a fiscal crisis that happened on his watch. Even in the darkest days of 9/11, we never let events dictate our actions, let alone behave so inexcusably. But you see, Lew is worse than the others who voted to overturn term limits because he won't admit that his vote was a power grab. He actually wants you to believe that this was a principled stance because he's always been against term limits. We know better. The true principled stance would have been to stand with us and uphold the will of the people. He instead chose to break the trust we put in him when he was part of the class of politicians that were elected as a result of term limits in the first place. Unfortunately, politics changed him – or maybe it was in him all along.

But this is expected. After all - Lew is a major part of an obsolete culture of career politicians and machine politics that is strangling our communities in south Brooklyn. You see it all around – in fact, the people who run this business has seen it firsthand. Lew Fidler and those that are cogs in the machine put power and influence above community. They point to how much money they can bring to our community – money that goes to those who bow down to the will of the machine - as if this tainted money is some kind of acceptable trade-off in exchange for allowing this broken system to leech off of us like some kind of cancer, stifling creativity, quieting dissent and building apathy towards government. After all, why bother participating when the usual suspects run everything, right?

Lew "works" a broken system – I want to fix the broken system.

In the few times Lew has acknowledged my existence, he has referred to me as his "Republican opponent" – like I'm wearing a scarlet R that will cause the countryside to run for panic! He doesn't know that he's doing me a service – I want everyone to know that I am Republican. I want everyone to know that I'm not a cog in the machine. I want everyone to know that I'm part of an emerging group of creative, young energetic citizens stepping up to take on career politicians like Lew. We're here to take a crowbar to machine politics.

But we need your help - If we as a community do not make our stand now, then career politicians like Lew Fidler will only become bolder, and who knows what other rules they'll twist to their favor.

For my part, I'm standing up now and issuing an open challenge to Lew Fidler. Lew: I'm calling you out. I'm taking this fight to the people, and I challenge Lew Fidler to meet me anytime, anyplace to not only debate me on the issues but to answer for the acts he's committed against all of us. No lawyers can save him from this confrontation like they stopped those who actually had the temerity to challenge Lew within his own party. By all rights, I should be campaigning against one of them or any number of potential candidates who would've run had Lew Fidler not put personal politics ahead of community.

Lew forgot that the real strength of our city is in our communities, not in the people we allow to go to City Hall. Politicians come and go, communities endure. It's up to you to remind him. Our community must now send a strong message – The days of the career politician and his machine are over.

Our city faces many challenges. We must find ways to do even more with less, bring transparency to the darker corners of government and get this city back on the path of prosperity for all New Yorkers.

I've have a record of fighting for our community when our officials dropped the ball. While the community waited on Lew Fidler to re-zone Sheepshead Bay – you remember, when he said that he'd get back to us and then never did? We're still waiting by the way! Anyways, while Lew was letting Sheepshead Bay turn into Condo-Ville, I worked with my neighbors, fought hard and WE re-zoned what we could. Weren't we all lucky when he showed up after we did all the heavy lifting to stand out in front to take the credit!

When Lew told us that a waterfront park was a pipe dream, I mobilized our community, fought hard and now Brigham Park will soon become a reality.

The stakes we face are now much higher, so once again, I'm asking you to join me. Fight side by side with me to meet these challenges. Together, I have no doubt that we can meet any challenge. On Election Day, cast your vote for Gene Berardelli for City Council, and let's get to work.

Kickin' Into High Gear - With a Little Help!


Many people have asked me, "So when are you going to really start your campaign?" To be honest, I didn't feel comfortable campaigning and taking people's money unless I was securely on the ballot.

Well, that arcane, out-of-date, draconian process known as petitioning is finally over for me, and I'm proud to have the endorsement of both the Republican and Conservative parties.

So it's time to set this campaign off! August 9th at 10 AM at Cherry Hill Gourmet, I'll be officially starting my campaign. And in doing so, I'm enlisting the help of a few new friends of mine.

Alex Zablocki is running for NYC Public Advocate - you may have seen an idea we collaborated on regarding the plans for Canarsie Cemetery. In my opinion, Alex is one of the bright young stars of the New York political scene. His grassroots campaign is spreading throughout the city - and with good reason. Alex is intelligent, energetic and never afraid to take on all challenges.

Joe Mendola is running for NYC Comptroller. When you talk to Joe, you immediately realize how imminently qualified he is to manage the city's finances. With the personal exception that he graduated from Fordham (Let's Go Jaspers!), Joe's resume is more impressive than any other Comptroller candidate. But just as important is Joe's commitment to his family and his community.

Alex Zablocki and Joe Mendola comprise the first citywide Republican ticket in the past 12 years! Thanks to them, we are striding in the right direction!

Marc D'Ottavio is running for Brooklyn Borough President. As a Vice Chair of the Republican Party in Brooklyn, Marc has been instrumental in the effort to get the party back on the map. Marc will be an advocate for small business, and a fighter against BP Markowitz's "monument to himself" known as the amphitheater in Asser Levy Park.

Folks, we're the candidates out there that the Brooklyn political machine do not want you to know even exist. We're the candidates that will actually remember that we come from the people, and will listen to you.

We're all up against career politicians who have forgotten who's really in charge. They've forgotten that public service means actually serving the people - not further personal ambition.

Help us get the word out! Come out next Sunday! Bring a friend! Bring two friends! Come to listen, but know that we're coming to listen as well.

Oh No! He Said The "R" Word!


"I do wish to point out that Gene is the Republican candidate for this Council seat. When this area last elected a Republican, well, there was no City Council. And even then, I doubt we had a Republican Alderman."
- Lew Fidler, SheepsheadBites.com, 7/12/09

So, it looks like Lew wants you to know that I'm a Republican.

Well, so do I! And I think those of you who have read this regularly know this already. I don't hide that I'm Republican - recently, I've been reveling in it! (Or you might have read about it in Courier Life's "Borough Politics" section.)

See, Lew views the "R" word as a bad thing, and he's hoping everyone else will, too. Like he said, this Council has never been filled by a (gulp!) Republican before! After all, if you're "red" in NYC, you might as well be politically "dead", according to conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom has a way of falling apart around me.

You see, it was conventional wisdom not to make waves and fight the rampant over-development without your Councilman leading the way. But we, the community, did it anyway. And we won.

Conventional wisdom also says that parks can only be built if there was some built-in concession function associated with it. But we, the community, did it anyway. And we won.

Now, conventional wisdom dictates that the scarlet "R" is a losing proposition. So let's see how that holds up. I think it won't.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that Community Sees No Party. The community can recognize their own, and appreciate when one of their own step up for them.

Community also loves an underdog - and who's a bigger underdog than a community member who's volunteered for years taking on "the establishment".

On the other hand, the community loathes those who abuse their trust, or try to tell them what's best for them - especially if they're perceived to be separate from the community. And even more so if they manipulate the system for their own benefit, or in a way that doesn't represent the community's will.

Like, I dunno... voting to extend the term of your employment in direct contravention of the will of the community that voted twice for a limit - the same term limit which you yourself used to originally get into office, thereby turning your back on all the people you supposedly represent.

***

The above notwithstanding, you can learn some things about me from the word "Republican" next to my name.

It means that I'm principled - anyone willing to voluntarily join any minority has to be. It means that I don't bend with the wind, I stand up for what's important, and I'm willing to swim against the current for what I think is right. In these times, we need more representatives challenging the "establishment" in order to bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the discussion. Otherwise, you end up with a stagnant system that doesn't change.

Which leads into my next point that you can learn from the "R" near my name. It also means that I'm not a cog in "the machine" that is South Brooklyn politics. I'm beholden to no one except my community - in fact, I think it's time that someone took a crowbar to the machine and tore it down! Machine politics is meant to help the machine - any external benefit to anyone else is coincidential or accidental.

On paper, the fight is a slaughter. If you need a visual, think of it this way:

This is the "machine", it's so big, it can't even fit on the page...


and this is "me"...


So how do you take down "the machine" when you have the equivalent of a pea-shooter? Well, I'm not giving away my playbook. You'll have to wait and see!

But let's start with a new premise:


Maybe it'll take someone with the "R" word next to their name to bring that message forward.

From Pipe Dream To Reality!


It looks like the little park that could is getting off the ground!

For those who haven't seen Courier Life's latest edition, the Brigham Street Park Project got a shot in the arm from Councilman Lew Fidler and Borough President Marty Markowitz, who allocated a total of $500,000.00 to the park project.

As leader of this community project, I couldn't be happier! While the money is great, I'm happy because the community won - after years of hard work and dedication, we've reached a milestone!

This money is a LONG time comin' for Brigham Park adovcates. We started out as a rag-tag group of residents fighting "Project: Lighthouse", a conceptual restuarant - parking lot project on undeveloped parkland, and then fighting a draft RFP from parks that closely resembled "Project: Lighthouse".

The whole initiative started with a simple idea - let's not just say no to what's coming forward from developers and politicians and bureaucrats, let's create our own vision.

There were many obstacles along the way. But things fell so neatly into place, it was almost fated that this park would become reality! First, I happened to go with my good friends Ruth Chapman and Mary Galenski - two amazing people for whom none of this would have happened - to a New Yorkers For Parks meeting and learn of their Community Design Program, which we ultimately apply for and win. Then, we get two fantastic design fellows assigned to the project in Melissa Guerrero and Jon Fouskaris.

The rest is history, and can be read here.

There's a lot of people to thank. First and foremost, the community. If you notice on the Brigham St. Park Project site, the banner says "a community initiative". Politicians didn't start this program. Businesses didn't start this program. The people did. The people game their time and energy to this project. The people persevered. The people turned fantasy into reality. For everyone who worked on the Project, I personally am awed by what you accomplished and I am proud to have been out in front representing you.

Also, the member and leadership of Community Board 15 deserve praise. They were the first governmental entity to support the Project, and kept Brigham Park a funding priority for the district. I thank them for their courage and dedication to the Project.

The staff at New Yorkers For Parks did a tremendous service for our community. With their help, the community found direction and focus. Without their help, this project would be dead in the water. We are greatly indebted to them for their contribution.

I want to give special thanks to Pamela Governale, who led the design effort. Pamela is not only a good friend, but a tireless parks advocate. She was the first person to tell me to say "when" the park is built, not "if" the park is built, when talking about Brigham Park. That stayed with me throughout this Project. There is no amount of words I could put on here that will adequately show my appreciation for that and a million other little moments that got us to this moment.

Finally, thanks to our elected officials who are putting the money behind this Project. Assemblyman Maisel has always been a friend to the Project since Day 1 when the community rallied on the parkland to announce their intentions. Borough President Markowitz also deserves praise for his contribution to our efforts.

As does Councilman Fidler.

It took a while to get Councilman Fidler totally on board with this Project (although he never said he was against the Project itself), but I'm glad he did. It may be odd for some to read that, considering that I"m running against him for City Council, but it's true.

Brigham Park isn't about me, it's about the community. Always has been and always will be. While it's been my honor to lead the Project, I will not let any personal pride or ego stand in the way of progress in the community.

I will not let politics taint the purity of what the community has created.

I am so happy to say that the three years involved with this project has been time very well spent - regardless of outcome. The Project has educated many people about the history and natural heritage of Sheepshead Bay, has highlighted current issues of concern in Plumb Beach, and has brought out the best in our community. Not only is the project innovative in design and benefits to the environment, it's a prime example of what a real "grassroots" movement can do.

We've come so far, and we have much to do. I look forward to continuing to lead this effort on behalf of my community.

Lew's A Millionaire? What Else Don't We Know?!?

(Click to Enlarge - Courtesy AM NY)

You know something, I always thought that politicians were hypocrites on some level - but I never thought people had the audacity to go this far.

We all know about Councilman Fidler's schtick on the Mayor - billionaire out of touch with the common folk, like me. Well, it turns out that the Councilman isn't as common as we all were led to believe.

According to Jason Fink of AM NY, our Councilman is doing quite well for himself, thank you very much. In fact, he is cited as one of 7 MILLIONAIRES currently in the Council!

That's right folks.... millionaires.

Call me crazy, but a millionaire railing against a billionaire in the name of us thousand-aires doesn't exactly sound genuine to me. It sounds more like a way to deceive and get more votes from those who don't know any better.

Well I, as one of the many thousand-aires living in the district, think that this whole "common man" facade is just that - another example of our Councilman waving his right hand at us while the left hand is hiding something totally opposite - and we've seen enough.

- He vocally opposes the Bloomberg administration, yet sides with it on the term limits extension.

- He touts his tax record, stating that he voted against the previous tax increase, yet neglects to mention that he voted for the previous TWO tax increases before the council - totaling 25% in the aggregate!

- Now this "common man" routine of fighting for the little guys has turned into nothing less than a millionaire in pauper's clothing!

Now I would never begrudge anyone success - the Councilman's salary is NOT the issue here.

The issue is deception. You see, facts are shaded in Councilman Fidler's world. There seems to be no such thing as full disclosure. We're always left wondering "what are we missing?"

We deserve representatives interested in full disclosure and total truthfulness with the people. We deserve someone like us, in touch with our concerns, who will not play the misdirection game that has become an art form in South Brooklyn.

If elected, you will never have to worry about the "man behind the curtain" because there will be no curtain. There's only me - a fighter from Sheepshead Bay asking for your trust with the responsibility of restoring YOUR voice - the REAL voice of the common people - in City Hall.

Why I'm Hitting The Trail


In case you haven't been following, the graphic says it all - I have decided to run for City Council for Councilman Fidler's seat.

Some people have been asking me why I'm doing this. If you've read this blog regularly, then you'd know the answer. As this year has gone on, I've grown more and more agitated at our local political scene.

I've been calling for people to step up and take a stand against the politicking down here. After a while, I thought that I should put my money where my mouth is; I've never been one for sitting on the sidelines and watching things happen around me.

Someone needs to point out Councilman Fidler's hypocrisy over the years. Might as well be me.

He touts how he stands up to the Mayor, yet he sided with the Mayor (that's a nice way of putting it -more like he bowed down to Hizzoner) against the people in repealing term limits. His reasoning? His well-documented opposition to term limits. We're meant to believe that it was a principled stance.

So let's get this straight - he sided with his supposed sworn enemy in government to put his personal opinion ahead of all of ours. That is not leadership - it's self-serving.

But speaking of "leadership", the Councilman loves being in the council leadership. Supposedly, it benefits all of us. I think he loves it a bit too much, - to the point where power outweighs principle. Here's a perfect example, straight out of recent headlines:

Councilman Fidler voted "No" on a bill put forth by Councilman Tony Avella requesting that elementary schools generate notices reminding teachers to teach children why cruelty to animals is wrong. Seems innocuous enough, so why did he give it the ol' thumbs down? Apparently, Speaker Quinn was upset that Avella had pushed the legislation without the leadership's blessing. So Lew, being a good political soldier, killed a harmless bill - in the name of politics.

Some of you may be saying "no harm, no foul". It's not like it was something important like, say... term limits. I say that both term limits and his bill is a microcosm of our Councilman's priorities - politics comes first and foremost. Deal with constituents' matters? Whenever he's not politicking. Maybe.

After all, Lincoln Terrace, a small court in Sheepshead Bay, is still waiting for its street sign, months after requesting it from the Councilman.

Councilman Fidler also likes to say how he was against raising taxes in this past vote. True.

He doesn't go around saying that he voted to increase taxes 25% in the aggregate over his terms of office.

Because you don't win elections that way.

You win elections by showing up around election time, shake a few hands, spread some money around, and hope people forget that you haven't been around so much the previous three years - three years that he's been feathering a large nest in Manhattan.

Or so he thinks that's how you win.

I don't want to be this kind of Councilman. I will do what I have always done - put community first. Your priorities will be my priorities, your battles will be my own. Our communities shouldn't be neglected for the sake of party or power. We need a public servant who is actually willing to serve the people - before party. I believe I can be that person.

Over the next few months, you'll hear a lot about what I stand for and what I'm all about. I hope this will be a two-way conversation. I'm looking forward to it.

My Weekend Trip Back in Time... Huzzah!


This weekend, I made my annual time travel excursion - circa 1864, to be exact.

Yes, friends, this weekend marked the 4th Annual Gotham Cup Vintage Base Ball gathering! To those who don't know, Gotham Sports Media and the Gothams Base Ball Club of New York sponsor a weekend long tournament of "vintage base ball". Teams from all over the northeast gather in Central Park to pay America's Pastime by rules not seen on any ballfield in over 100 years.

(Before we go any further, MAJOR credit for this festival go to Ken "Trolley Car" Schlapp, Captain of the NY Gothams, who majorly picked up my slack in organizing this year's event, and thanks once again go out to Danni Caynor at the Dive Bar on Amsterdam Ave. and W. 96th St.)

As a simple shorthand, I tell people to think of a civil war re-enactment without knowing who is going to win.

Back in its infancy, the game we now know as baseball went through an evolution of rule changes. Let me give you a taste of some rules seen at the Gotham Cup:
  • Fielders could catch a ball on one bound, and the batter would be out.

  • If a batter was walked, every runner would advance even if not forced.

  • Batters had choice of strike zone between a high zone and a low zone.

  • No gloves were used in the field, no helmets for batters, no protective gear for catchers and bats were bigger and heavier.

  • There was no such thing as a "free back" - if you were caught off base at any time, you could be called out

  • Pitcher were much closer - and pitched underhand until the 1880s!
Maybe the coolest thing about the game - everyone gets a nickname. It's not Tom, Dick and Harry, it's "Pigtail", "Brooklyn" and "Express". And everyone - from age 17 to 71 - are playing for the love of the game.

The best part of the Gotham Cup is the look on people's faces when they see this game, come over and ask questions. Maybe even pick up the orange peel balls or tree trunk-like bats and feel the history. Parents love to show their kids the crack of the bat - it's a nice change from the ping of the little league games nearby

This is, by far, my most favorite weekend event. I can't say enough about the guys who participate in it - they're great to pal around with, knock back a few and swap stories about baseball or anything for that matter. I have tons of photos and links from the past four years that I'm going to add to this post, so check back soon!.

If you have the opportunity to catch a game in Central Park, or in Flemington or in Old Bethpage, then do it! If you're any kind of baseball fan, I promise you that it's an experience you'll enjoy.

A Spot Of Tea That Really Hit The Spot

(Photo shamelessly stolen from http://brooklynyr.com!)

Probably the best thing to come out of Bloomberg's latest flirtation with the Republican party is that NYC Republicans are active. They're talking online and in person, debating the pros and cons of this issue and others. And it's great to be part of.

Prime example: I walked out of work this past Wednesday heading towards the City Hall station as is my usual practice when I became a part of the Tax Day Tea Party at City Hall - one of many events organized all over the nation by Newt Gingrich and his new PAC in response to government taxing the life out of all of us.

Anyways, in the crowd, I spotted Jonathan Judge, the President of the Brooklyn Young Republicans. Jonathan is someone I would classify as a "true believer" in Republican ideals - his passion for the Republican party is matched by few. We were on the opposite side of the mayoral debate at the March meeting, and had only talked in formal settings and online.

I thought that this would be a good time to formally introduce myself, and break the ice a little.

Well, what started as a quick chat on my way to the train turned into a half-hour chat about different political issues that affect New Yorkers. And all the while, we were inundated with people handing out flyers about their cause, people trading email addresses, or even just meeting up to say "hello" to one another.

We didn't agree with everything the other said, but the dialogue was its own reward. We both left off with an understanding that we're both on the same side, and that there was a lot of work to be done. We made no plans for the future, but made a commitment to keep working together, even if from opposite sides of an issue. Agreement and conformity should never be a goal. I'm a firm believer that honest disagreement is the fertile soil form which great ideas grow. On this evening, I believe Jonathan and I planted a few of those first seeds.

But here we were, outside of City Hall within this mass of humanity, having a civil discourse about all things New York politics. It was a beautiful thing. It was energizing - an energy I hadn't felt since back in college when all I did was hang out, talk politics and have fun.

While I'm probably too old for all the hangin' out and can't afford to just have fun all the time, I sincerely hope that this was the first of many conversations that I have with Mr. Judge and others both here online and in person.

After weeks of talking about the ugly underbelly of NYC politics, specifically in my neighborhood, I finally have something positive to write about politically.

Thanks, Jonathan.

Playing "The Game"


In case you haven't been following Gerritsen Beach.net, you've missed the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Cherry Hill Gourmet Restaurant & Market and the political gang down here in Sheepshead Bay. Check it out so you know what i"m talking about.

It's just amazing the games people - especially politicians - play. To briefly recap:

  • We have a deputy commissioner inspecting a building (kind of a downgrade in job description, I would think), then revoking plan approval, on a construction job that had already been signed off as completed by his superior,
  • Politicians claiming that they had nothing to do with the city agency's schitzo decision, and doing so while posing for pictures outside of the construction job that they had nothing to do with shutting down - even while the neighborhood's Good Friday Processional, which they completely ignored and refused to acknowledge, was walking right by them.
Welcome to South Brooklyn Politics - at its worst.

(Kudos to Dan at GerritsenBeach.net. This is the kind of news that flies below the radar and that no one ever finds out. We need more people like him!)

It's a world gone mad in Sheepshead Bay. The inmates run the asylum. This area is the victim of selective representation and selective enforcement. Politicians pick and choose which fight they will most benefit from, not fighting for the communities they represent.

Where was the outrage when Sheepshead Bay was overbuilt on Emmons Avenue, with violations ranging from breaking zoning regulations, to illegal dumping into the Bay? Could it be that the politician's personal interests were against advocating for the community's best interests? I leave you to check the 2005 Campaign Finance disclosures to answer that question.

Our politicians aren't working for their constituents - they're in business for themselves. And it sucks for us all.

Case in point - let's look at the news-breaking events that "our" Senator, Carl Kruger (pictured here with his despicable "Gang of Three") has been associated with recently:

(1) Fighting against a business that invested millions into a dilapidated Sheepshead Bay landmark with the promise of high-quality food and creation of over 100 jobs,

(2) "Shaking down" the Legislature with the "Gang of Three" in order to be named Finance Committee Chair, and

(3) Betraying all New Yorkers by blocking any hope of relief for the MTA and its riders.

Helleva record, Carl.

How do any of these actions benefit our district? They don't - they only benefit Carl Kruger.

I hate to throw Terry Scavo and Mike Nelson into the same boat - I have worked with both and genuinely like them. But, they're guilty of the same hubris. Getting elected is more important than doing the right thing, I guess.

Terry isn't an elected official, although there are rumblings that she may want to be someday. I'd like to know what authority she had to stand there for the "photo opp". Was she there representing the Community Board? If so, when did the Community Board approve of such action? I know it wasn't at the last meeting - I was there!

If she had no such approval, then she is abusing the trust of our Community Board - and the trust of our community. It's a shame, because she started as CB15 chair with the best of intentions, but she is slowly turning into just another south Brooklyn bottom-feeder.

I seem to view Mike Nelson as the least culpable party here. The Councilman has always seem more like a victim whenever the Senator gets involved. I recall during the Sheepshead Bay re-zoning that Mike was standing next to the Senator and his pro-developer friends, looking miserable. When Kruger lift, it looked like a weight had been lifted off of him, and he was back to being himself again. I saw that same look outside of Lundy's this week. It truly is sad.

So why haven't politicians like the good Senator been voted out of office? Well, there's lots of reasons, and none of them are good for democracy. There has been no credible challenger because the Republican Party couldn't get its act together (a problem I hope to help remedy in the future!) There is also the "power of the incumbent" - who can remember when a newcomer unseated an incumbent in this area? Hopefully, the new Republican leadership will change that as well. Finally, the wheelin' and dealin' of politics has been, for the most part, done in the dark - maybe blogs like GB.net can remedy that with more stories that this one that he broke.

Whatever the reason, this vicious "game" and others like it has got to end. These are serious times and we need serious people to step up and get involved.

NY Politics: Have We Had Enough Yet?

Congestion pricing, the Ravitch Plan, the Kheel Plan, ... and then in the end, we get no plan.

And the consolation prize - new taxes and new tolls, with less service.

Is this not the very definiton of madness?

This latest botched job is just another sign of a larger systemic problem that is pervasive in New York City and the DState. To put it simply, our elected officials just don't give a damn. The system isn't broken, it's just the people in it that are cracked.

How much more evidence do we need to show us that the "leaders" in our city and state institutions could care less about the will of the people? It became plainly obvious in our City when 29 "legislators" ignored almost 90% of the people by voting to modify term limits. It's continued up into the "leadership" in our State legislatures and the Governor's mansion when "our people in Albany" hijacked any plan to bailout the average hard-working New Yorker.

Maybe the real madness is that we expected a different result from the same people who keep burning all of us.

When our lives turn into the proverbial "political football", then something has to be done. And step one should be "punting" those officials who have become so out of touch with the people of our city.

I've seen this kind of talk on other blogs - I only hope that some of the People reading see the need to step up. I can't help but wonder if the fire that lives in the soul of every New Yorker - that New York attitude that takes nothing from nobody. - is burning as bright.

I do believe that there are those out there trying to douse iour New York spirit, namely our "leaders" who see an active electorate as more of a hindrance than the heart of what makes us Americans.

And that makes me angry.

We've been beaten down by those who claim to "represent" us. They've all forgotten that they work for us - that they serve at our whim. And we've let them forget that.

So what are we going to do about it? If our track record is any indication - not much. After all, incumbents aren't scared of the electorate because they get re-elected overwhelmingly.

But, though I'm angry, I am also hopeful. I hope that this could this be the year that the sleeping giant that is the people of New York City awaken, find their city heading to ruins, and decide to step up.

A Life Less Exciting... For Once


Writer's block. It's an ugly, ugly thing. Especially when you have a normal run-of-the mill, uneventful week.

So since there's not much goin' on in my life that's worth writing about, let's take a moment for some quick updates:

  • First, we'll put a period at the end of the last week's topic. While I didn't get response on the site to my last posting, I did get into a very lively conversation with members of Urban Elephants. at the beginning of this week. You can check it out on their website. It was, for the most part, productive. I enjoyed the opportunity to exchange views, and as I said on their site, felt it was a real education into how others feel about the whole situation regarding Bloomberg and the GOP. While I'm unswayed by their arguments, it's good to see Republicans in NYC that are so passionate.
  • My good friend and colleague Marty Hoffenberg has started his own blog, and I invite all of you to check it out. From the looks of it, Marty will be focusing on his views of national and international news. Bookmark "What in the World" and check it out often.
  • Work has been super busy - and I continue to learn a whole lot. I put forth my first argument in chambers this week and I think I did pretty well! I got the stay of judgment that I was asking for - my first tangible result. It's all baby steps, I know. But at the same time, I feel like I've grown tremendously since I started in October.
  • With Spring Training in full swing, I'm happy to say that my partners in Gotham Sports Media is all over it! Guys like my good friends Mark Healey, Paul Greco and Joe Janish are doing a great job with BaseballDigest.com, our internet radio show Baseball Digest Live! and FantasyPros911 and its family of shows. If you're a Fantasy Baseball junkie, you should definitely head to Foley's New York this coming Friday to meet with Gotham's Fantasy Experts for TOUT NIGHT! While I don't have many free moments to check in with them, I know that the business is in great hands.
That's pretty much it - my daily life this week was pretty boring... go to work, work, leave work, work on everything I can't work on at work while at hime at night and on weekends, sleep and then repeat.

Good thing that I love what I do!

Why I Voted For The Mayor @ Brooklyn GOP

(Photo Courtesy of PolitickerNY)

Something that you may not know about me - in 2008, I became a Vice Chair of the Kings County Republican Committee. (That's me on the far left - of the photo, not the political spectrum!) I am part of the Law Committee in charge of Club Activities. Basically, I deal with district club compliance with the law and would handle any legal issue that would come up, along with the rest of the Law Committee.

I also get to put the "Hon." title in front of my name - something I never do, but it's kind of cool. :-)

You may have heard recently that the Brooklyn GOP made news in voting 36-9 in favor of allowing Mayor Bloomberg to run on the Republican line in the next Mayoral election. Many contributors to blogs felt that the Brooklyn GOP "caved in" to the Mayor. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a sampling:

http://www.politickerny.com/2305/brooklyn-gop-votes-let-bloomberg
http://www.politickerny.com/2325/brooklyn-chair-voted-against-delaying-vote-bloomberg
http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2009/03/brooklyn-caves.html
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/brooklyn-gop-endorses-bloombergs-bid/
http://www.urbanelephants.com/index.php/component/content/article/64/606-craig-eaton-gop-judas.html

I was one of the 36 that voted "Yes". And I'd be glad to explain my vote.

First, a word about how the vote happened. No, a vote wasn't on the agenda for the meeting. A motion was made from the floor by a district leader whom I will not name. It was seconded, and discussed. After discussion, there was a motion to table the vote. Discussion ensued, and a vote to table followed. That vote failed, and was followed by a vote on the orginal motion which carried.

Now, the short answer for my vote - survival.

I understand the need for principled stances, such as the one that people advocated to make against the Mayor by denying him the GOP line. However, I felt that the REAL issue in this vote wasn't the mayor's line on a ballot, it was the future relevance of the Brooklyn Republican Party - which as of now is teetering by a fraying thread.

Any discussion of future relevance begins with winning the majority back in the NY State Senate.

For those who aren't politically inclined, the start of every decade is a pivotal time in political circles. It means that the local political lines are re-drawn, and new districts are created that will last for 10 years. The party in control of government, specifically the Senate, gets a greater say in re-drawing those lines. If the Senate is controlled by the Democratic party, then the lines will be drawn in their favor - meaning more members of their party will likely be elected. Democratic leadership would like nothing better (and have said as much) than to eradicate any "opposition" voice in government, and they have a real chance in doing now and into the foreseeable future if they maintain the Senate majority.

I believe that democracy only works when you have an opposition voice.

The only way I see to win back the Senate is with the help of Mayor Bloomberg, who has supported Republicans in the Senate in the last Senate election. And even then, it's not a lock, as we had the Mayor's support in the previous Senate elections, and lost the majority. Imagine how many more seats would be lost if the Mayor supported the Democrats.

But here's an even better reason. I further think that if you don't have the Mayor working for you, he's likely to be working against you - think of the alternatives.

If Mayor Bloomberg cannot get the Republican line, he'll still be running. Hell, he can create his own party, get enough signatures to run, and probably still win. But at this point, let's assume the position that he at least runs with or without the GOP ticket, as he's already has a campaign hitting the ground running.

So my opening premise is this: that the two-term incumbent billionaire Mayor runs either with our support or without it. And, in my opinion, he's the odds-on favorite.



Let's say he runs with our support. If he wins, we have an ally who will continue to support us (presumably). If he loses, then he's a private citizen with a lot of money that may be looking to take out his frustrations at losing against those who worked against him, which would be - well, not us. It would most likely be the Democrats and their supporters. Again, we would (presumably) continue to have his support in Senate races as a way for him to settle some scores.

Now, let's say he doesn't receive our support. If he wins, then, we as a party have cut off all communications with a billionaire mayor who will (presumably) be looking for retribution against those who didn't support him. That means, bye-bye Senate support, and most likely, bye-bye Senate majority and any Republican elected officials in Brooklyn for the foreseeable future. Or he loses. In which case, he's an idle billionaire with a grudge against those who help oust him from power, and would (presumably) throw his support against our opposition. Again, bye-bye Senate, bye-bye elected positions, hello to a generation of irrelevance.

Notice I say "presumably" to all of this - it's all my conjecture. But, assuming that my presumptions are true - if you're of the mind that the Republican party is on the brink of losing what little relevance it has for at least a generation (given re-districting looming on the horizon), what side would you rather be on? In my opinion, common sense dictates that you side with the Mayor. Especially given comments like this from Democratic leaders:

I am expecting an overwhelming victory in Brooklyn on the part of the Democratic Party,” said Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman. “With this election, we will come closer to my mission of making Brooklyn a place that is only represented by Democrats,” Mr. Lopez said.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/03/republican-hopes-in-a-democratic-bastion/

Why in the world would any Republican want to help out Lopez's agenda to destroy democracy in Brooklyn? One-party representation is what we all should be fighting against first and foremost!

A vote for Bloomberg is a step away from Lopez's un-American position.

Now add this to the argument - name one well-known NY Republican who can run a viable campaign, let alone win. John Catsimatidis (another Dem-turned Republican) was the only one I could think of, but he's been hedging his bets based on the Mayor's actions. Other names have been thrown around since the vote (Tom Ognibene is one), but here's the thing - no one else has been out there campaigning! Everyone is in wait-and-see mode. In my opinion, you can't start a campaign at this point, raise any significant money and/or expect it to be credible. In my opinion, standing still is the same as moving backwards - a waste of time. Democrats have been campaigning for months, if not a full year. This, to me, leaves the real danger of a BLANK Republican line in the race for MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY. Not only would that be embarrassing, it would be the party's death knell.

Again, Lopez would LOVE that!

One counter-argument I heard was all about how the Mayor has burned the GOP before, has used us to get to where he wanted to go, and the like. All of which I understand and, for the most part, agree with. But, now is not the time for principle. We're in the fight for our political lives in Brooklyn. Now is the time to strengthen this party for the long haul as fast as we can. Building grassroots support - a method you all know I'm fond of given my Brigham Park initiative - will not happen fast enough in the time we need to get ready for a Senate dogfight.

We have to grow NOW - and quickly. Siding with the Mayor gives us the only chance I see that we currently have for the boost we need to put our growth on the fast-track - so our message and principles can reach a greater audience.

Now the cynics will say that I'm talking about patronage - and you'd be right. Patronage is a dirty word in politics, but it's a necessary evil. Everyone has patrons in one sense or antoher,(artists, non-profits, etc.) or their ideas don't reach a significant audience to make an impact. How do you think the Democrats grow their party? They use their power, and their money, to garner support whether it's through jobs or contributions or whatever. The Brooklyn GOP has no such money or power to throw around, and virtually no influence. You have to start somewhere. And what better patron to have than a billionaire Mayor - especially when you're facing a fight for survival?

There was also the "What's the Rush?" argument. I voted "no " on waiting. I felt that nothing would dramatically change by waiting 30 days or more. Leaders lead. They don't stick their heads in the sand and let events dictate their actions - they let their actions dictate events.

Here's another reason to get out there early - let's say the US Federal Courts or the Dept. of Justice but the kibosh on the term limits extension. Unlikely, but it may happen. Now, Bloomberg can't run, we're open to support a "real" Republican, and we have Bloomberg to thank for giving us a base to build on for other "real" Republicans.

Yet another counter-argument - the Mayor's policies are un-Republican. I totally agree. I abhor his position on Term Limits, and I feel that his tax policies are hurting the city. But remember, my vote isn't about an endorsement of Bloomberg's policy - it's for party survival. It's about what I think is best for the Brooklyn GOP. Where's the alternative? A Democratic candidate? A Johnny-Come-Lately Republican with no credible chance of putting forth a successful campaign?

The final counter-argument I heard was "How can you trust the Mayor?" To this I say, you're right, I can't. I agree that he has burned the party on many occasions. I'd rather be optimistic and think that we can forge a working relationship with the Mayor in the future. But I ask again, what's the alternative? I say again, you have to start somehwere. This is an easier leap of faith than waiting for another "white knight" to kickstart the party financially. In effect, he's the lesser of all evils.

Notice that I don't speak in absolutes, only likelihoods. I have no crystal ball. But as an Executive Board member, I have to think of what path is most likely to help our party, especially in this pivotal time. I think my vote represents the best choice.

I'll say to all of you what I said at the end of the vote - this was the most fun political debate I had in some time. All views were represented and respected. And make no mistake, there were as many Bloomberg-lovers as there were Bloomberg-haters at the meeting. Yet, no one was put down. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of, and I am energized to get down to work. In the end, the votes came down as we all know. While my heart may have been with the principled opposition, my head was thinking of the party's survival so we can, hopefully, build a foundation so those principles can reach a wide audience.

I look forward to talking about this further with anyone who wants to comment. I'd especially like to hear what alternative ideas others would've suggested.