The Awesome Power of Room 8: Mark Gjonaj Loses an Important Endorsement (And Adam Bermudez Attains an Inconsequential One)
Dateline Lewes Delaware: Let me not bury the lede:
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is no longer supporting anti-LGTB, anti-choice Mark Gjonaj for a Bronx Assembly seat against a pro-choice, pro-SSM opponent.
Whether Velazquez was ever supporting Gjonaj is among the things we will be discussing here today.
On Wednesday, August 15, I published a piece (first appearing in shorter version August 14 on the Gatemouth Facebook Page), in which I took Brooklyn “reformers” and “progressives” to task for applying a different standard in dealing with the very real sins of Democratic County Leader (and Assemblyman) Vito Lopez than they apply to the arguably fewer but still very real sins of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
Even on those instances where they were the same exact sin.
As I wrote on Facebook:
Last year Brooklyn "progressives" and allies of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez had a field day over the Lopes/Dilan support for (then) Assembly candidate Rafael Espinal even though Espinal opposed abortion and same sex marriage, albeit in a limp wristed manner (perhaps not the best choice of words).
While working on my next Gateway column, the Nydia item grew longer and stronger, and became its own piece.
The intent really was not so much to be a hit piece on Nydia or Gjonaj, but rather to serve as an indictment of sanctimonious "progressive" hypocrisy, which has served in some cases to subject me to extremely vicious attack in such quarters, as when, despite the fact I was the one who first brought the candidacy of Noach Dear (then a judicial candidate with a significant anti-gay record) to the attention of the blog world, and wrote more substantive anti-Dear columns than any other blogger, I was attacked by “progressives” (mostly on “Daily Gotham,” which sadly no longer exists) when I accurately explaining why the spineless and distasteful endorsement of Dear by various electeds would have almost no electoral significance and, though repugnant, was not something worthy of a lifetime anathema against any of the guilty parties, some of whom (Diane Savino and Dominic Recchia come to mind) have brave to outstanding records on LGTB issues.
There were some interesting responses.
The first came from the Carroll Gardens based manifestations of the pro-Vito Lopez forces I am sometimes accused of shilling for.
Debra Scotto: Where is the divide between Assemblyman Lopez and Congresswoman Velasquez? On matters of policy there is barely a difference when it comes to national and statewide issues. The big difference is supposedly in how they operate with regard to matters of procedural fairness but this does not survive unbiased inspection – just one side doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. What our Congresswoman would suggest is a battle to elevate the party has degenerated into a prosaic fight for power. This has become an unbecoming turf war for Brooklyn.
Frankly on policy, I think the Assemblyman comes out slightly ahead, since he finds a way to promote economic growth while protecting loft tenants while she depends for victories on NIMBY voters and fantasies of industrial rebirth in NYC.
The Congresswoman started out as an independent brought to power by the people; the Assemblyman began as a social worker committed to aiding the disadvantaged. Now where are we? We are at a place where we should begin to look for inspiration in a new direction – and those that claim to be real reformers might want to take a second look at their alliances.
GATE: Your comparison is a red herring, as Lopez will never run against Velazquez for Congress, and rather than finding a qualified candidate against her, ran a cipher with a reputation for laziness (and that assessment was from a friend of his). If Vito can't even put forward an arguable improvement (as he did with Jeffries against Towns) he should just not bother. Spite looks as ugly on him as it does on Nydia.
I agree that Lopez's record on statewide issues ranges from adequate to laudable, and he has been a strong legislative leader--possibly stronger than Nydia has been in Congress. I do take an exception to his position on child sex abuse; I actually think it can be argued that the Lopez bill is better legislation than the Markey bill, but that's irrelevant, because the Markey bill is real legislation, while the Lopez bill is merely a sham allowing opponents of doing something to cleanse themselves by putting their names on an "alternative" no one has any intention of ever trying to pass.
As to development issues, Deb, at least in our neighborhood it appears that Nydia's approach has enjoyed more support than that articulated by Dilan, O'Connor and your family and its followers--Nydia's approach may not be the optimum one, but it appears to be the people's choice. Shouldn't that count for something?
Further, Lopez has not been above playing NYMBY games himself--especially if the developers are Aroni Satmar or someone else outside his circle. Is this worse than being reflexively anti-development? I would have to say, yes--it is even worse than being reflexively pro-development.
You are, however, correct that when it comes to Party politics and elevating revenge over principle they are more alike than they are different. This is pretty irrelevant to their roles as legislators, but it is relevant if one seeks to be the Party leader.
Of course, only one of them seeks such a role.
Then there was the Bronx reaction.
During the course of my piece, I noted that the incumbent Naomi Rivera, who is fast becoming was fast becoming a national joke on the order of Mindy Meyer (if Mindy Meyer were menopausal, had discovered her clitoris and controlled a payroll and a not-for-profit she could use as if it were the vibrator department of the Pink Pussycat Boutique), was no great shakes herself:
Please read this. Someone has finally made the case for Adam Bermudez in the media, that I am the true Democrat in this primary. Albanian for Albany (Nydia's Balkan Straight) | Room Eight www.r8ny.com
More was to follow from a liberal member of the faculty at Einstein Medical:
Charlie Hall: Sorry, but I'd vote for Mark Gjonaj. Rivera is an embarrassment.
GATE: At least vote for Bermudez; as a doctor, you should understand the importance of clean hands
Adam Bermudez (to Hall): Let me know when and where I can convince you for my vote. Over at Einstein, I'm close with Stanley Marsh Dennijacowitz (click for real name, lol) who served in Einstein Student Gov, and pediatrics professor Irving Zoltan, if you want some outside opinions from folks that know me well at Einstein, and any local community leader, including Republicans. Mark is not from the district and is not a Democrat but rather an Independent running as a Democrat who would support "some" Democratic party policies, as his prominent endorser Ruben Diaz Sr. I've canvassed for Evan Theis and Lincoln Restler and Field Organized for Thompson 09. (And Montelione last month, did you know that Gate?) Nydia was one of my heros in 2008...Mark Gjonaj was giving money to the RNC. Irene Rukaj, my other opponent is a good friend and a socially conservative pastor with views I don't like. Mark Gjonaj has been a good guy to me, and I respect him like any of my close friends and family members that ARE NOT DEMOCRATS. This is a Democratic primary. Finally, $54/hr for constituent work is utterly preposterous .and an affront to the hundreds of young staffers around the state who make less than 30 thousand a year and can't pay their student loans and car insurance, since staffers are required to have a BA unlike legislators. Welcome to my life, after being fired in 2008 by conservative pundit and former anti-marriage equality Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, whose chief of staff was his WIFE and made no bones about going home every night TO NEW JERSEY. I need help progressives. If you want to vote for a progressive, I'm simply the only option. Buy your beliefs are your beliefs, do what you have to do.
GATE: Montelione is a perfectly acceptable candidate who is qualified to be judge, as is Lara Genovesi, who I proudly support. I would never deny a hungry operative a payday--although I do wonder how you worked for him while running for Assembly--sounds like you can be two places at once--maybe you should be the MILF's next boytoy Adam, for me it would be between you and Rivera---if same sex marriage was yet to be voted on, and Naomi's vote looked crucial, I support her in a heartbeat--anyway, given Charlie will not vote for Rivera, I strongly urge him to vote for you
Adam Bermudez I submitted 700 signatures, 650 of which I collected myself, on Monday. I petitioned for Montelione for Maslow [GATE NOTE: Aaron Maslow is an election lawyer who implored me to mention his name in a column because the publicity would be good for business] on Wednesday and Thursday by the Navy Yard area NYCHAs, the day I was served my objections. I spent my own money on copies and printer cartridges for walk lists and dry cleaning and...So I worked for two days that week...such is the life of a progressive underemployed Wesleyan grad. So I was not in Brooklyn and the Bronx at the same time, unlike some gym teachers/coaches/constituent affairs directors two years ago. Simply put, I'm "the real deal".
Charlie Hall: Adam, I'd vote for you, but I'm no longer in your district. Jeff Dinowitz is now my assemblyman. Do you have a web site where I can send you a contribution?
Adam Bermudez LOL. I know, I just checked...the Halls in the district are MARJANI, NICOLE, HERBERT, AUTHERENE, TESHA, VICTOR, CARLTON, WINSOME, LORANE, CHERYL, EMELDA, EVADNE, MONICA, JAMAL, MAXINE, ALICIA, SINTASHA, CARMEN, BRYAN bit.ly/Adam4AssemblyDonate
GATE: I'm not allowed to fundraise, but glad I could make a shittoch.
Adam Bermudez The goy boy would appreciate any mitzvahs performed on his behalf…
GATE: Tito Puente wrote a song for you: Oye Vey is Meer
Adam Bermudez No, no, I'm lacking in the vey right now... someone finally gave a public endorsement of me. You. No vey.
GATE: that's subject to interpretation, but it will likely come in earnest --btw, I worked for Suzie O in 84--even slept in the house in Orienta sometimes
Adam Bermudez: !!!!!!! When I first walked up the stairs at the house on Claffin in Orienta, I saw a picture of all the NYS Senators in 2000. I've told this story to a million people. I started pointing... "Jail. Jail. Jail. Indicited. Jail. Jail. Jail" It was really sad. Its shittochin time...
I love this kid, and he’s right, and so is Hall.
As Bob Kappstatter noted: Who wudda thunk it!
When we slapped the Snooki tag on absentee Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera a few years ago, we never figured the “girls just wanna have fun” moniker would apply to a tabloid scandal, complete with Naomi looking alluring in a black clingy thingy and “the top of her lacy red bra,” as the Post described one photo, along with smootchy shots with “boytoy staffer” Tommy Torres on her now-deleted personal Facebook page .
But while her personal life IS nobody’s business, it raises two serious questions about her judgement as an elected official:
•What EVER was a supposed public official thinking, keeping a Facebook site with THOSE photos on it? We give her four giant Snooki “DUHS!” on that one.
•Creating at minimum an ethical conflict of interest with a workplace relationship. We hope the authorities quickly SHOW the paperwork clearing up whether her love interest did or didn’t double dip on the taxpayer’s dime working for her while supposedly teaching full time in Brooklyn.
However, a win by Gjonaj would only be handing Ruben Sr. an underserved victory in his war against social tolerance. In minority communities, an important victory in the New York front of what I call “The New Tolerant Intolerance.” He is backing similar races against Gustavo Rivera and elsewhere.
Frankly, this is a fetus that needs aborting in its first trimester.
And this Bermudez kid has moxie.
I give him points just for knowing the history. GATEMOUTH ENDORSES ADAM BERMUDEZ FOR STATE ASSEMBLY.
Anyway, I was awoken Saturday morning by a call from a prominent and outraged Brooklyn “progressive-reform” type screaming that my piece was shilling for Vito, and an effort to discredit the credibility of her endorsements (and the endorsements of those who had not condemned her, after having condemned others for doing the same) in races such as Genovesi/Montelione.
In response, I noted that that was not the purpose of the article, but that the only one who had made an effort to discredit the credibility of Nydia’s endorsements had been Nydia.
I also noted I had given Velazquez very strong support when Vito had come after her with a demonstrably inferior candidate and that I would be glad to do so again.
One may also notice that, as my nine year old Dybbuk is wont to point out, “Daddy is on Vito’s shit-list.”
I can only add that I am there for very good reasons.
I’ll add there were at least some “progressive/reform” types who were worthy of the names:
Raul Rothblatt: I have actively supported Nyida. I will mentinon my public support for her when I call her office, and I will let my fellow Reformers about what seems to be an odious move on her part. I support marriage equality, and I would be highly disappointed if she supports a candidate who is against it.
On opinion and belief, Raul was not the only one.
While waiting to board the Cape May-Lewes Ferry yesterday, I got my second call of the day n this topic. It was from a very prominent citywide operative who clearly was authorized to speak for the Congresswomen.
He told me I was incorrect and Nydia wasn’t supporting Gjonaj.
Others seem to disagree:
Roberto Perez: The battle between Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, the Dilan's, and Brooklyn Boss Assemblyman Vito Lopez, has made it's way up to the Bronx. Velazquez is upset that Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera came into Brooklyn in support of Councilman Erik Dilan, in his bid to take out Velazquez.
In addition to saying that she will throw her weight behind Rivera's opponent, Mark Gjonaj, Velazquez has been doing her homework on City Council candidate Tommy Torres, who is running for Councilwoman Diana Reyna's seat.
The buzz is that Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez has uncovered the fact that Naomi Rivera and Torres are romantically involved, which could be interpreted as one of the reasons why Rivera went into Brooklyn to endorse against Velazquez, and that supposedly, Torres has been on Rivera's payroll during the last two years, is a full time teacher and receives additional pay for teaching sports to children.
Colin Campbell: But Mr. Espaillat’s toes were not the only ones Ms. Rivera stepped on with her congressional endorsements. She also endorsed Councilman Erik Dilan’s challenge to Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, who’s now reportedly out for blood.
“I’m going to go in and I’m going to campaign,” she told the Bronx Times. “I can assure you, that when I come to the Bronx, all those Latinos know who I am. Believe me, those Latinos, they love me!”
Bob Kappstatter: Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, fresh from a victory in the June 26 primary, is out for Naomi Rivera’s blood.
The absentee assemblywoman did find time to go to Brooklyn with boro Assemblymen Marcos Crespo and Nelson Castro to endorse Nydia’s challenger, Councilman Erik Dilan.
We’re told Naomi did it for a friend, but that didn’t stop Velazquez vehemently vowing vengeance.
She isn’t just “lending her name” to challenger Mark Gjonaj.
“I’m going to go in and I’m going to campaign,” she told us. “I can assure you, that when I come to the Bronx, all those Latinos know who I am. Believe me, those Latinos, they love me!”
Velazquez, going into her 11th term, said she’s already spoken to Gjonaj twice, and when she gets back from a week’s vacation, “I’m going to be sitting down with him. I think I can help him.”
From the direct quotes I’ve boldfaced, it should be clearly that it is not merely Perez, Campbell and Kappstatter who disagree with the assertion made by the prominent operative that Nydia was not supporting Gjonaj.
But that was then.
Apparently, thanks to my column, and thank to people like Raul Rothblatt, I can now say unequivocally that Velazquez will not be formally endorsing Gjonaj.
I have been assured that Nydia will be restricting her campaign activities to a few Brooklyn races (most prominently Lincoln Restler’s re-election for District Leader and Jason Otano’s challenge to Marty Dilan for State Senate), and the Presidential race where she intends to be campaigning heavily in swing states with significant Latino populations.
There is one correction I do need to make.
I told Deb Scotto here: “…that when it comes to Party politics and elevating revenge over principle” Vito and Nydia “are more alike than they are different,” and I earlier told Orthodox Pundit “"She and vito have a lot in common in that way.”
But there is a clear difference.
In the face of such criticism, Nydia folded. Vito Lopez would never have folded; Vito would have doubled down.
Vito Lopez regards this a sign of strength on his part, and a sign of weakness on the part of Nydia.
I regard it as exactly the opposite, and congratulate the Congresswoman on coming to her senses, even if she can’t quite bring herself to admit that she did what she did and that the thing which she did was wrong.
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