Monday, June 25, 2018

Tomorrow's Primary Day-- And Crowley Is A Villain Not Just In Queens And The Bronx, But In Staten Island And Brooklyn Too!


Today, the furthermost corner of NY-11 is at Avenue P and East 15th Street. When I was a pre-teen, my family had a house on 17th right off Avenue P. One of my friends, Anne, lived with her family on East 14th Street between Avenue P and Kings Highway. We both went to PS 197. Back then we were also in the same congressional district-- Manny Celler's. First elected in 1923, Celler's district was redrawn at least 4 times and back in the early '60s it was NY-11, as it is now-- albeit without Staten Island-- when Anne and I lived in it. Actually she still does. I didn't know that until this week. I hadn't heard from her since we went away to college. We hadn't been in touch. She e-mailed me, inspired to finally reach out by Fred Moguls' WNYC piece, and told me she reads DWT everyday. She told me something I didn't know anything about-- that Grimm called Rose "a pussy" in public, and that mister "courage to lead" said nothing in retort and went on to whine to multiple people about it. That's not a guy who's ready to take on Grimm in a general, and when there was a candidate forum in the very red South shore of Staten Island and it was confirmed Grimm would be there, Rose was a no-show coward. I called her and we caught up. We exchanged pictures. She said she would recognize me instantly. Something like sixty years have passed. I would never have recognized myself. Anyway, Anne said she agrees with everything I write... everything. I love her; no one else agrees with everything. No one. She's petrified the DCCC is going to wind up giving NY-11 back to Michael "Mikie Suits" Grimm by supporting a crummy Blue Dog, Max Rose. She had written a post about her fears but was nervous about sending it to me. Why, I asked, you were always a much better writer than I was. She used to help me with my homework. Here's her guest post. Please encourage her to write more.

The 2 bad guys in the NY-11 race-- Grimm and Rose

Please, Stop Michael Grimm... And The DCCC
-by Anne From Brooklyn

The Darwin awards for political ineptness have yet to be invented, but the DCCC is doing everything it can to win the coveted Most Embarrassing Congressional Election That Doesn't Have To Be Lost category in a landslide.

In 2015, it took the grand prize without breaking a sweat. Never content to settle, the D-trip now aims to break its already impressive record-- in the same district, against the same flawed Republican. It may very well work. But it may also fail spectacularly; particularly if The People have their way.

In 2015, they put up the most clownish Democrat they could think of to screw their hopes so shamefully that Candidate Recchia earned star status on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Recchia went on to raise more funds than any Congressional candidate in history, right before setting another record when he suffered an epically humiliating loss to Republican Michael Grimm. Grimm was not only under indictment at the time, but had just threatened (on live tv!) to break a reporter "in half-- like a little boy" and throw him "over this balcony." The balcony was DC's Congressional Rayburn Building and Grimm ultimately resigned his seat, pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud, and served an eight-month sentence.

Now that he's out and wants his seat back, he is Trumpily primarying the Trumpiest schlump representative, Dan Donovan (the DA who could indict a ham sandwich, but not the NYPD officer who caused the death of Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold).

The DCCC can glide to November victory with the most populist Democrat the district has known in decades by working to help elect Michael DeVito, a guy well-known for his deep integrity, empathy and non-partisan service throughout the district. He's mentored Donovan's own stepson, and, as a Marine, serves as the perfect foil to Grimm. The DCCC is far too masochistic to ever do anything so sensible, though. Instead, they dropped a Blue Dog elitist unknown into the mix to alienate every voter with Nancy Pelosi-isms and empty platitudes. Max Rose isn't just the perfect picture of a limousine Blue Dog, he's a plastic puppet devoid of substance who has in his remarkably short time living amongst the plebs of NY-11 already dropped enough Trumpian whoppers on voters to qualify as the hollowest of candidates, straight from the Build-A-Politician Factory located on K Street.

Max Rose is a compact package of arrogance, spitting out lines fed to him by his D.C. handlers, and while he does, obfuscating that fact at every turn, presenting himself as some sort of anti-establishment everyman. In the early days of his campaign (at least as it was announced; he's been secretly running for office for years) he launched a 100-day "listening tour," which is exactly what you do when you don't know anyone in and anything about the district you're trying to represent. At the beginning of this stunt, he issued his first public lie,"All too often politicians-- both Democrats and Republicans-- develop their policy platforms behind closed doors with lobbyists and truckloads of polling data guiding their decision making. That's not who I am and that's not what this campaign will be about..." Yet just seven days prior, he announced his campaign team, a roster full of D.C. troupers from the revolving door of the DCCC and its consultant class, with one exception: his campaign manager, Kevin Elkins. And if we are the company we keep, then Rose is already a dirty rat.

Elkins' involvement as a Rose staffer didn't happen through old fashioned recruiting, but through a backroom deal akin to extortion that filters through the local county committee. Elkins, formerly the Executive Director of the County Committee, approached the Chairman, John Gulino, to inform him that he would primary the City Councilwoman, Debi Rose. Debi Rose was-- and remains-- the only woman of color elected to office in Staten Island history. With Elkins' notoriety as a dirty player, Gulino had to know the race would get ugly fast, and that the very popular and progressive Debi Rose would get dragged through the difficulty of a filthy campaign-- ostensibly risking the loss of the seat to a Republican in an already strongly-held Republican borough. Gulino offered Elkins the campaign manager slot on Max Rose's team as a way to keep him at bay. And it was this that led the tail to wag the dog, from before the Congressional campaign was announced to the present day.

Elkins is so reviled in Staten Island politics that after he was revealed to be the target of a $10,000 hit by Richard Luthmann (a Staten Island attorney who is himself notorious for suing for the right to a trial by combat), the dark joke throughout the borough was that the $10,000 plan to shoot Elkins failed because there were too many people willing to do it for free. Elkins would use the "hit" revelation for public sympathy, as is his modus operandi, morphing the story that there was a plot into,"I survived an assassination attempt." Elkins remains closely tied to Mike McMahon, having worked on his successful Congressional campaign (followed by his failed one, which he lost to Michael Grimm in 2010), and when Luthmann was remanded without bail, a propensity for violence was presented as grounds for remand, based on the story about Elkins. With McMahon's connections, and a personal aversion to Luthmann (McMahon's wife, Judge Judy McMahon, was a target of online bullying by Luthmann,) it is suspected that the bail revocation and "hit" story may not be entirely as it appears.

Kevin Elkins has a petty history as well in his nefariousness, having a years-long reputation for campaign lawn sign shenanigans, which was unable to be proven until he was caught-- himself-- on camera removing an opponent's lawn signs under cover of night in 2015. The race was for District Attorney, the opponent was Joan Illuzzi, and the candidate Elkins was working for-- Mike McMahon. Not content to end his lawn sign pettiness three years ago, he seems to be continuing his scheme on Max Rose's campaign, directing staff to engage in lawn sign destruction and removal, and planting his candidate's signs where they are not wanted or requested, in an effort to give the appearance his candidate is more popular than he is (lawn signs are a big deal on Staten Island.) With the dearth of local press coverage in the race, this all plays out on Facebook and Twitter, where voters air their grievances.

It is likely Kevin Elkins' language that Max Rose deploys when he issues his pretentiously folksy utterances of "you bet!" And "I'm running because I'm fed up!" and deploys a manufactured Brooklyn accent which doesn't exist in the elitist circles in which he grew up. It's all part of dumbing things down for the lowly voters. And it is Elkins' condescension and detachment from voters, combined with the typical DCCC arrogance and tone deafness that created the narrative of Rose's campaign that he has gleefully followed from Day One. By presenting himself as a soldier hero with the "Courage to Lead," co-opting the Army's motif and logo for his campaign, and talking about his purple heart and Afghanistan at every step, Rose and his ilk are counting on appealing to the militant right wing of the base for the General election, and to scrape through the primary by attempting to scare the bejesus out of anyone left of Reagan: if you don't vote for me, you'll get a convicted felon! I have more money than anyone!

Rose's entire persona is manufactured. Any fans he has parrot "his résumé" which includes a one-year stint at a couple of patronage jobs, respectively, that he touts as the experience needed to advocate for some 700,000+ constituents. He and his handlers have tried to avoid referencing his organic history, so the "elitist" label can be dodged, but his non-political biography reveals the holes of the conceit.

A product of the tony Park Slope section of Brooklyn with a sprinkling of the Hamptons, Rose did not have an association with CD-11 outside of his prep school education (Poly Prep, where his family's ties to the Board and connections with other affluent Brooklynites would provide a deep-pocketed fundraising base.) According to past acquaintances, he was looking for a district to move into run for Congress, and parts of New Jersey were contenders. One such prospect may have been Hoboken, where Leigh Marsanico-Byrne, who he introduced as his fiancee (and now his wife), resided or resides. According to neighbors in the luxury waterfront apartment building he moved into upon his transplantation into Staten Island, she has not lived there throughout their courtship or his campaign, and indeed she is rarely seen on the campaign trail. Further investigation revealed that she owns a property in Hoboken, New Jersey. She registered to vote at Rose's address on November 3, 2017, having never voted in an election (nor been registered to) before in New York or New Jersey. A "child stylist" by profession who runs in socialite circles, it is possible that her absence is a strategy as much as it is a byproduct of her residency.

Rose is sure to highlight his Wesleyan education with his Masters from the London School of Economics. But he quickly zooms to emphasize his work with those he presents as the poor and downtrodden-- lest we forget he actually has a little consideration for people of color and those in poverty (his public statements and answers to questions posed reveal him to believe they are one and the same.) There are three pieces of background he emphasizes repeatedly: his one-year-ish stint as Chief of Staff at Brightpoint Health, his job as "Special Assistant" to Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson, and his membership in Occupy the Block. Ken Thompson was a beloved district attorney who died in the course of his tenure. Rose does not reveal the length of his employment there, but touts his indispensable involvement in the "Begin Again" program which was designed to help clear low-level offenses. The program was launched in July 2015; Rose was working for Brightpoint by the following June. Despite an exhaustive online search to find Max Rose's name on anything associated with the program, he appears on a single piece of correspondence, in minutes of a meeting. As Brooklyn lost its cherished DA, checking the facts with him about Rose's "invaluable" role is impossible.

Rose was at a women's breakfast in Staten Island on Saturday... demonstrating his "stamina to lead?"

Rose repeats his talking points about his position at Brightpoint Health, that he "helped deliver" healthcare to low-income patients and those suffering with addiction and that he "helped bring a medical clinic and drug recovery center to the island." But there was ALREADY a clinic functioning before Brightpoint acquired it, and the grants reveal that funding was in place years before Rose was ever involved. In March 2016, ostensibly around or before the time Rose became involved with the organization, the collaboration between the existing entity, Community Health Action Staten Island ("CHASI") and Brightpoint was already in the works. In Brightpoint, Rose attempts to claim credit for accomplishments he didn't earn. Whether the healthcare "delivered" by Brightpoint is even altruistic at all is another question. Max makes hay of his dedicated volunteerism with Occupy the Block, a neighborhood watch-type initiative that sets up dedicated volunteerism with Occupy the Block, a neighborhood watch-type initiative that sets up twice weekly in the most challenged areas of Staten Island where violence can build. He uses his "Occupy" status in ample photo ops, campaign materials, and speeches. Many of the men of Occupy the Block will tell you they've never heard of him, or that they saw him a few times before he declared his run for office. Others will change the subject immediately to Michael DeVito, and how he's "the real" volunteer for Occupy the Block (a fact specifically cited in DeVito's induction into the NYS Senate Veterans' Hall of Fame.) They may tell you even more about DeVito, and they may tell you nothing else about Max Rose but shoot you a glance that tells you they are not happy with opportunists.

And as with every Blue Dog, that gets right to the root of it all: opportunism. Max Rose is neither a Democrat nor a Blue Dog for his principles. He certainly isn't the progressive he purports himself to be, nor does he have the "courage" he said he has to lead. He is credibly a pro-choice candidate, and that appears to be the sum of his authentic convictions, so the label "Democrat" seems convenient enough. The blind ambition within him makes him a natural choice for the Blue Dog team, and the zeal he has to perpetuate the Military-Industrial Complex at great taxpayer expense and huge profit to the Defense PACs which provide his benefaction makes him a perfect New Dem as well. A perfunctory amateur analysis of the Blue Dog/New Dem combo yielded a predicted "Trump Score" in legislation for of New Dem/Blue Dog cross-endorsed candidate of 43.44, meaning that Rose could be more of a Republican in a House voting record than the existing Congressman, Donovan, and even out-flank from the right Grimm's legislative voting history.

When challenged on his positions, the source of his funding, or to explain his actual experience, he quickly rushes to his combat veteran credentials. "Afghanistan" seems to be the safe word he and his consultants are counting on; that, and to sow enough fear for Democrats and discord between voters of Donovan and Grimm to split the vote and squeak into place. And while he sprinkles his GI Joe tales around, he often forgets his audience. The 11th District has a large population of Muslims of varying ethnicities and origins. It's not surprising to learn that the presentation of the candidate in combat fatigues talking about shooting people in the desert has not resonated pleasantly in congregations of Pakistani-Americans, at Muslim festival celebrations, and among memberships of organizations where peace is fervently pursued.

And then there is the money. Max Rose has only one notable opponent, the aforementioned DeVito. He has made it his business to hit Rose publicly about the sources of some of his funds. Rose had already publicly announced his "corporate PAC money pledge" and subsequently received the endorsement of End Citizens United, the AstroTurf organization that runs a circular conveyor belt with the DNC, Emily's List, and now VoteVets. Let it be stated for the record that this decoy was not deployed until after Rose's overlords were able to ensure they could funnel enough corporate money effectively through other Democratic "leadership" PACs such as the JOEPAC of his chief benefactor, Joe Crowley, and through the joint fundraising agreement Rose shares with Crowley.

On February 15th, the day after the Parkland massacre, a Twitter user later determined to be New York physician Matthew Brown tagged both Rose and Anthony Brindisi for the Blue Dog PAC's $20,000 in NRA cash since 2016 with, "you really want to be supported by blood money? Will you repudiate the NRA's dirty cash?" DeVito issued a scathing rebuke immediately, and apparently earned a reputation for being a shit-stirrer in the district-- something that Centrist Democrats didn't welcome. Rose's handling of the question, however, fared worse. Rose continued to get pressed on the matter on social media, yet never answered. A March for Our Lives group had formed locally with the leadership of a Parkland survivor's cousin, and when a town hall was requested to Donovan and rejected as is the norm, the "MFOL" group began to assemble one of their own, inviting all Congressional candidates to participate, including Grimm and the present Congressman. Max Rose attempted to reclaim his image as a guy against the NRA (some arguments from his surrogates included that it's only a little bit of NRA money in his PAC) and offered to pay for a town hall out of his campaign funds. Both the town hall organizers in Staten Island, and a smaller town hall organization that followed in Brooklyn (which he did not attend) refused his offer and privately expressed their disgust at the hypocrisy.

On April 7th, the "Town Hall for our Lives" proceeded at a Staten Island college, with recitations and tears and statements and elected officials, all surrounding the Parkland massacre and what legislative steps are necessary. Max Rose was able to get through the entire town hall without the question of the Blue Dog NRA funds until the end, when a woman was able to plead for a last question. She posed it, and he answered, "I'm so glad you asked this question," (as if anyone was stopping him from answering at any moment before.) "The Blue Dogs gave it back, and he went on to offer more platitudes and rehearsed sentences about the "F-U" rating he is going to get in Congress, but not before declaring that "an opponent on this stage with me" spread "this lie." With crocodile tears welling up that he had rented from Kevin Elkins, he proceeded to explain how hurtful it was to be damaged by "lies." "We have to be done with these lies" he whined, and declared himself "a proud Blue Dog" while the audience shuffled out.

The Blue Dog's NRA money no longer a focus, a debate was hosted by Swing Left on April 26th, and the subject of PAC money was raised-- once again by DeVito, but this time, with fire, as part of his closing remarks."The Blue Dog Democrats take money from corporations, from Big Pharma, from Monsanto... Max Rose has signed a fundraising agreement with Joe Crowley. THAT'S where the money comes from. You need to believe in your candidate." The moderator allows the microphone to return to Rose for an answer, and his retort was a pompous, "I have raised more money in this race than all of the candidates" [heckles and boos; an audience member shouts, "FROM WHERE?!" And a chant of "from where, from where" begins.] DeVito grabs another mic, "from the oligarchy, from corporate donors, that's from where," and Max Rose shuts down his comments for the rest of the evening, unable to face the criticisms of the voters.

If the notion of Rose's mendacity hadn't yet spread far from the debates and town halls, the trade unions have been tenacious in getting word out throughout the working class voters of the district that he has been particularly disloyal and dishonest regarding Local Union No. 3 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and their strike, which began in March 2017. Near the beginning of Rose's announced candidacy, he was already made aware of the strike that was in effect and published a cursory statement of cheer for the union. He did not join the strike line. Over the course of the following months as the strike continued, he would occasionally send out a tweet or post on social media in statement of support to the Local #3 workers. But on October 27th, he sat down for an interview with the network owned by Charter/Spectrum and said on air that he was proud not to take money from unions. Amongst workers, this caused an outrage. But it was a photo he posted on December 17th that sealed his dishonor among Local #3, and the wider population of trade unionists, "all the political pros told me not to worry about speaking with voters until 3 months before the election" he captioned it, with a fundraising list he purported to represent a voter list. Local #3 workers and family members, who have been using Twitter to publicize their plight during the media blackout about it, began slamming him about the Spectrum remote they spied on his table. He offered an empty "you bet" response to whether he would cancel his service, and claimed he had already called upon the Mayor to cancel Spectrum's franchise agreement in July. A scan of his tweets revealed that he had merely tagged the Mayor in a tweet and considered the matter handled. As a protege of Crowley, who directly accepts campaign funds from Charter/Spectrum as well as Related-- the company union busting at Hudson Yards-- he will soon see that "Union Strong" is a term that brings voting voices with it.

In an atmosphere that is ripe with disgust over corporate greed and politicians who lie; at a time when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is challenging Joe Crowley in a primary that she just may win, the DCCC needs a mandate this year to send them packing and hand the business of being a Democrat back to the voters. The Ivory Tower has proven itself haughty and clueless for long enough, and this season, when a comedian asks, "How the fuck does that happen?!" about CD-11, let's hope it's about how a working-class Marine veteran outraised by nearly a million dollars got a Blue Dog to lie down.

UPDATE: Curtains For Grimm?

There's been a lot of bullshit journalism out in NY-11 about how folks in Staten Island see Mkey Suits as Jesus-reincarnated. Maybe that's because the "journalists" involved were only interviewing his rabid, mentally ill supporters. Yesterday, a Remington Research poll came out and it told a very different story. Interviewing likely 2018 Republican primary voters, they found 83% with favorable attitudes towards Trumpanzee, 55% with favorable attitudes towards incumbent Dan Donovan and just 45% (remember, of Republicans not of normal people) with favorable attitudes towards Grimm. 47% of these Republicans said they will vote for Donovan in tomorrow's primary, 40% said they'll vote for Grimm and 13% are still undecided. Republicans in the Staten Island part of the district say they'll vote for Donovan 47-39% and in the Brooklyn part of the district they'll vote for Donovan 59-26%.

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At 8:28 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

This is my district i moved here 12-13 years ago from Brooklyn due to a family request now i'm here to be a difference maker i'm spreading the word like wildfire on Michael's candidacy & all of the other progressive candidates i know there's an institution & cash (Dark Money) disadvantage on all of them plus it's their first time running these districts but we have to take chances & risks so let's hope for the best good luck to Michael & all the true progressives running in all NYC races tomorrow night.

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trump needs a Mafia enforcer in the House to keep the "democrats" in line should they somehow manage to gain control of it.

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a sad and filled with lies . The only conclusion I can come to is that you don't actually live in the district and haven't met either max or Deito . Devito is a very nice man but as some one who knows him personally and has for many years I can honestly tell you he's not the candidate we want . He has to many skeltons in his closet to make a serious run .
Please attempt to do actually research on both the district and the candidates before writing an emotionally charged hit peace .
As Democrats we need hold our self to higher standers than Fox news


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