Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In NYC we learn (once again!) to beware candidates whose only promise is "change"


Did NYS Sen.-elect Marisol Alcantara just forget to
mention that she's allied with hated Sen. Jeff Klein?

"Marisol Alcantara won a highly contested campaign against these two failed candidates, because the voters trusted her to do everything in her power to change the way Albany works. She will fulfill the commitment she made during her campaign to be an agent for change on behalf of the people of this state."
-- Alcantara spokesperson Lis Smith, in a statement to DNAinfo NY

by Ken

The above statement was issued in response to a letter to Senator-elect Alcantara from September primary opponents Micah Lasher, chief of staff to NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and former NY City Councilman Robert Jackson, referred to in the statement as "these two failed candidates. Before we proceed to the issue at stake, let's note for the record just how badly these failed candidates failed, and how much "the voters trusted" the victor.

31st Senate District

NYS Board of Elections

If you prefer it by percentages, it breaks down to Alcantara 32.43 percent, Lasher 30.19 percent, and Jackson 29.72 percent. Alcantara, then, edged out Lasher by a grand total of 294 votes, while "these two failed candidates" between them tallied 16,121 votes to Alcantara's 8.469 -- not quite twice as many, but not that far from it. If I were a spokesperson for the senator-elect, I might be a careful about belittling her defeated opponents. And as we'll see in a moment, the spokesperson does know how to keep her trap shut.

So why am I telling you all this. By way of preparation for expressing my shock at a DNAinfo NY report that begins:
Don't Help Republicans Keep Power in Albany, Foes Urge Marisol Alcantara

By Carolina Pichardo | December 27, 2016 11:52am

INWOOD — Senator-Elect Marisol Alcantara should think again before joining the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) — an independent conference that tips power in Albany to the Republicans — when she steps into Adriano Espaillat's old seat next year, the losing candidates for her seat urge.

Former Councilman Robert Jackson and Micah Lasher — who both lost to Alcantara in the primaries with 32.43 percent of the vote to Lasher’s 30.19 percent and Jackson’s 29.72 percent — wrote a letter to Alcantara urging her to caucus with the State Senate Democrats instead.
I nearly gagged. My new senator plans to join the IDC?

You remember NYS Sen. Jeff Klein [right]. He's the stinking pile of puke who betrayed every voter in NYS who voted for a Democratic State Senate candidate by forming a freakish gang of four freakish outcast state senators into his "coalition," thereby turning a slender Democratic Senate margin into a Republican one -- with, of course, a specially carved out leadership post for the "coalition"-maker. If you need a quick refresher, check out Howie's August 2014 post "Bronx Lawbreaker Jeffrey Klein Says He's Entitled To Be A Lawmaker."

Jeff Klein is the rotting cauldron of political filth who inspired former State Assemblyman and AG G. Oliver Koppell, one of the authentically distinguished figures in NYS political history to come out of his political retirement to launch a primary campaign against him -- a campaign that just might have succeeded, given Koppell's residual popularity in what, as an assemblyman, had been his part of the 31st SD, if he hadn't been promptly and unceremoniously abandoned by all the big-talking state Democrats who were supposedly committed to ousting the abominable Klein. It turned out that all it took was a little back-room backs-slapping -- in this case apparently overseen by no less than Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- for them to make their peace with the abomination.

In that August 2014 post, Howie quoted from the NYT's primary endorsement of Koppell:
Senator Jeffrey Klein is facing a primary challenge this year largely because he led a disruptive power grab in Albany that gave Republicans veto power over some of the state’s most important issues. Mr. Klein and several other state senators created the Independent Democratic Conference, which broke away from the Democrats almost four years ago. Their defection hobbled the Democrats while giving Mr. Klein a new title (temporary president of the State Senate) and more ability to raise campaign funds. His alliance with the Republicans resulted in the failure to approve public financing of campaigns and stronger protections for women.

Mr. Klein’s challenger is Oliver Koppell, a former City Council member and one of New York’s most experienced public servants. Mr. Koppell would spend his time working for New Yorkers, not for himself. As a former Assembly member and briefly the state’s attorney general, he is by far the better candidate. We enthusiastically support Mr. Koppell in this district.
Against the spineless betrayal of NYS Democratic pols, the NYT's enthusiastic support didn't count for much. Oliver Koppell  [right] is a man of enormous dignity and political accomplishment, by NYS standards something close to a saint, the kind of who makes you believe in the possibilities of American politics. He got into that race entirely because of the outrage of Jeff Klein's continued presence in the NYS Senate. That body may be a snakepit, but how much better a place would it be if Oliver Koppell rather than Jeff Klein were representing the 34th SD? Instead, this proud man was left hanging out to dry.

Here's one way of thinking of the much-abused, but never sufficiently abused, NYS Legislature. Think of one of those game shows which culminates in a shopping spree for the winner, where he/she gets to pile up all the swag he/she can in a shopping cart in, say, a minute. Members of our esteemed leg know, each time they're elected, what their next end date is, and make it their mission to pile up as much loot as humanly possible. Of course they also play the "long game": piling up consecutive terms to not only extend that end date but amass seniority and legislative power that enables them to pile up the goodies even faster and furiouser. This is the game played, for example, by now-convicted former Assembly Speaker "Smelly Shelly" Silver -- and Sen. Jeff "The Man Who Should Be a Pariah" Klein.

Now I didn't vote for Marisol Alcantara in the September primary. I voted for Micah Lasher, because I was wowed by his political credentials, starting with the large measure of trust placed in him by his boss, AG Eric Schneiderman. I suppose if he hadn't been in the race, I would have been happy to vote for Robert Jackson, my former city councilman. I just didn't know much about Alcantara. I didn't think, though, that I would find myself in this position of regarding her as a horror that has befallen the 31st SD.

Naturally my first thought was, how did I manage not to know about Alcantara's seemingly missionary fervor to align herself with the Klein Collusion. So I followed a link back to DNAinfo NY's Carolina Pichardo's report on Alcantara's September primary victory.
Adriano Espaillat's 'Year of the Woman' Candidates Win Primary Uptown

By Carolina Pichardo | September 14, 2016 11:20am

UPTOWN -- The "Year of the Woman" is beginning Uptown.

The two candidates for state senate and assembly endorsed by Congressional nominee Adriano Espaillat as part of his prediction that elected offices needed more women of color were victorious in Tuesday's primary.

Marisol Alcantara, who was handpicked by Espaillat to take over his State Senate District 31 seat, won with 32.43 percent of the vote, besting Micah Lasher who earned 30.19 percent and Jackson who earned 29.72 percent, according to the Board of Elections. Tenant advocate Luis Tejada earned 4.89 percent of the vote.

The district covers the West Side of Manhattan from Chelsea to Washington Heights, Inwood and several sections of The Bronx.

Alcantara said the win was a “step forward towards a State Senate that reflects the diversity in New York.”

“As a union organizer, a tenant advocate, and a community board member, I’ve been an activist my entire life, and I am ready to take my experience and values to Albany,” Alcantara said Tuesday.
The piece went on to chronicle the victory of Carmen de la Rosa, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez's chief of staff, in the primary for the Democratic nomination in the 72nd Assembly District, covering Inwood, parts of Washington Heights, and Marble Hill, with 46.2 percent of the vote, against her nearest rivals' 32.44 and 12.42.

Hmm, no mention of Klein or his Independent Democratic Cabal as the candidate's chosen tool for "change." And it appears that I wasn't the only one who was caught by surprise by Senator-elect Alcantara's fervent support for Jeff Klein's "coalition" of horrors. The DNAinfo NY report on the letter just sent to her by former opponents Lasher and Jackson goes on to say:
The pair say that voters who provided Alcantara with a 294-vote margin of victory had no idea that she planned to “caucus with the IDC,” nor that she had received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from them for her campaign. Alcantara won the seat in primary election with 32.43 percent of the vote to Lasher’s 30.19 percent and Jackson’s 29.72 percent, according to the Board of Elections.

The IDC was formed in the wake of the 2012 elections by Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein after several Democrats concerned with the “disarray” of the Democratic party agreed to work with the Republican party to give them a majority.

“For four years now, the IDC has perpetuated Republican leadership of the Senate,” Jackson and Lasher wrote in the letter.

When “the stakes are even higher, with the leadership Donald Trump is bringing to the Republican Party, dividing the Democrats has a real impact,” the letter continued.
I breathed the smallest sign of relief. At least I wasn't the only one who didn't know. I can imagine how Lasher and Jackson felt when -- safely after the primary election -- they found out that Alcantara not only planned to join the IDC but had received so much money from them. How much money? Going back to the DNAinfo NY report:
Richard Fife, spokesman for Robert Jackson, said Alcantara received $539,558.37 from a Senate Independence Campaign Committee that was set up by IDC to help their candidates, and at least $28,000 directly from IDC members.
In a NYS Senate district, that's a lot of money. There's just one more line in the new DNAinfo NY report: "Lis Smith, spokeswoman for Alcantara, declined to comment on the campaign contributions." Like I said, Ms. Smith does know how to keep her trap shut -- when there's apparently no good way to spin an answer.

One person as yet unheard from is our new congressman-elect, outgoing 31st SD incumbent Adriano Espaillat. Would anyone argue that Alcantara at the very least owes those 294 votes she won by to Espaillat and his "Year of the Woman" endorsement. My guess, in fact, is that without that endorsement she would have wound up closer to fourth-place finisher Luis Tejada. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say.

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At 11:16 AM, Blogger RuthinNYC said...

I live in Inwood, didn't vote for Alcantara in the primary (I'm not a registered Democrat), and did not know she was the IDC's candidate. This makes me sick. What can we do?

At 6:17 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Good question, Ruth! For now I guess all we can do is make enough noise to make sure that the new senator knows she's being watched, and then make sure that she's held to account when it comes time for reelection. Who knows, maybe she'll do a splendid job.



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