The Cardozo High Connection

From the beginning, something about Dr. Robert Mittman did not add up.   

Let us review (I apologize in advance for repeating with minimal change so much material I posted so recently in “The Gateway,” but I’ve always regarded those columns as notebooks to be freely accessed when the real thing comes along).  

First came Jeff Gottlieb 

Jeff Gottlieb was a political morning glory. For over a decade now, Gottlieb had thrown his hat into the ring for every race for an open seat in Queens, even when the seat was going to disappear, or wasn't really open.  Each time, he made some noise, but ultimately, he always faded when the Party bosses asked him to, knowing he'd get his reward if he just waited his turn. 

But sadly (at least for Gottlieb), that reward turned out to be a job at the Board of Elections.  

Meanwhile, candidates who refused to fold added insult to Gottlieb’s injury by beating the guys for whom Jeff had stepped aside. You could almost hear a lifetime of accumulated bitterness and resentment in Jeff’s response to Rory Lancman’s attacks upon his candidacy. It was the bitterness and resentment of those who waited their turn and got screwed towards those who didn’t wait and got what they wanted.  

As I previously noted, somewhat tongue in cheek, it was likely that, when Gary Ackerman decided to retire, Gottlieb, without any prodding from anyone, submitted his name to Joe Crowley, asking for permission to run. 

The difference was that this time Gottlieb was finally given the permission he had asked for (fancy that!).  

And though Gottlieb did not receive all the support such permission normally entails, the permission seems to have come with somewhat more technical assistance than an insurgent would usually expect from his County Leader, including the help of a consultant named Jay Golub, who has been doing most of his recent work for candidates running with the support (or at least the sufferance) of the Queens Democratic Organization (as the guy they funnel their B-work to), an establishment usually not to keen about letting its selected vendors go out on walkabout in their turf.  

In Gottlieb we had a man who’d spent his life in a repeating cycle of withdrawing from races as soon as the machine asked him to, who then retired from his Cardozo High School teaching job to take a job at the Board of Elections he holds at the pleasure of his County Leader, Joe Crowley.  

And almost without precedent, someone so beholden to their County Leader somehow ended up running against their County Leader’s choice for Congress, Grace Meng, after having first circulated Meng’s petitions personally (Gottlieb is well recognized for his abilities and expertise in all aspects of running a ballot access operation).  

And somehow, Jay Golub got permission to put out Gottlieb’s fires (perhaps not the best choice of words)---Just at time when it might prove convenient to the County Leader to have another candidate (or two)  in the race to split the Jewish vote.   

Now, just at the moment the brush fire over whether Gottlieb's candidacy for Congress was actually an effort by Crowley to split the Jewish vote against his choice starts flaring into a full scale O'Leary and everyone is having a cow---just at the moment when too many questions were starting to be asked, and too many people are probing into the past looking for answers and getting warmer (perhaps not the best choice of words) comes the mysterious emergence of the another Jewish candidate.  

Dr. Robert Mittman, whose only seeming prior political involvement was organizing veterans’ and toys for tots events with regular Democrats like Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, former Assemblywoman Ann Carrozza, and Hiram Monserrate, mysteriously emerges as a candidate. 

Despite having no relevant experience and no fundraising (at least none filed with the Feds), Mittman somehow makes the ballot, even though expert lawyer Jerry Goldfeder has been retained to challenge his petitions.  

Mittman’s candidacy was originally treated as a joke by the like of people like me: 

“All we know about the latest 6th CD candidate, Robert Mittman, is that he's apparently never set anyone's house on fire, likes to honor veterans, and is a pediatric allergist who's been busy pollen the electorate.  

Jeff Gottlieb is livid that someone else is dividing the votes of who prefer to support delusional egomaniacs on hopeless ego trips.  

Not for nuthin, but so far Mittman seems like the most appealing candidate in this race.”

At the time he declared, there was some statement made that Mittman was interested in fixing the health care system, but the statement was rightfully treated like the throat-clearing exercise it was; there was no clue as to how Mittman proposed to do so, even though simple two  word answers like “single payer,” "repeal Obanacare" or “Wyden-Bennett” could have lent that explanation the veneer of credibility.  

Then it appeared that the mysterious Dr. Mittman didnt even know whether he was in or out. It was a good thing he's an allergist rather than a proctologist, but he did seem to be in needs of treatment so that he could break out of his quarantine of the press and public.

As it turned out, Dr. Mittman's reported exit from the race in the 6th CD was what the medical profession refers to as a false positive.

But something didn’t add up.

First there was the silliness of Dr. Mittman’s statement to the press, as it appeared in the Daily News:

"I decided to run for the United States Congress because I believe that our government is no longer working in the best interest of the people...Something is wrong in Washington and as a lifelong community resident, a parent, a voter and medical doctor, I am here to offer a 'Prescription for a Healthy Economy...I am not a career politician like all of my opponents...I’m a medical doctor who runs a practice on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, Queens. As a doctor, I have been trained to diagnose an illness and prescribe the proper treatment. I will apply these same techniques as a representative in Congress. My candidacy gives the voters in the 6th Congressional District a real alternative to politics as usual.” 

I was speechless; the man is a tongue depressor. 

Yes, the completely vapid emptiness would have been stunning in its audacity, if it wasn’t such a mind-numbingly somnambulant dose of anesthesia. Dr. Mittman had obviously gone into the wrong medical specialty.

As I joked:   

In further news, Anthony Weiner has announced he's seeking election as a combination gynecologist/dentist:  

"I decided to become a doctor because I believe that our medical system is no longer working in the best interest of the people...Something is wrong in medicine and as a lifelong community resident, a parent, a patient, a former elected official with an agenda for Medicare for Everyone, I am here to offer a "Weiner for the Women"...I am not a career physician like all of my competitors...I’m a public servant with two decades experience providing services for people. As a Congressman, I have been trained to spot an issue and offer a solution. I will apply these same techniques to my medical practice. My HMO (no homo) gives women the chance to be fully serviced for all their needs, as I spend my time drilling and filling their cavities. This is a real alternative to medicine as usual." 

But even more noteworthy was the fact that the Dr. did not appear personally to deliver his statement.

And even more noteworthy than that was who sent it out. Mittman’s new hired gun was none other than JAY GOLUB!!!!!, just recently departed from the campaign of Trojan Hack candidate Jeff Gottlieb, whose newly revealed past predeliction for arson had almost literally caused his candidacy to go up in flames.  

Having been watching campaigns around the country, I can safely say that whenever a medical doctor with no discernable support or record emerges as a dark horse candidate for Congress, he is almost always an ideologue, usually concerned about with pushing for (or against) some health care plan, or obsessed with some other issue. And while their involvement in local politics may be minimal, usually they’ve given to candidates, or issue oriented groups.

By contrast, despite some laudable charity work by Mittman, including involvement in housing the developmentally disabled, after an extensive search, I feel safe in saying that  there seems to be nothing in Mittman’s background indicating any  activism (or even any interest) in any national issues, including Health Care.

Further, there is absolutely no evidence in any interest by Mittman in politics sufficient to get this successful allergist motivated enough to pick up a pen and write a check.

Although there is (or are) at least one (and possibly two), New York City based Robert Mittman(s) who write regular checks to candidates for the Presidency and Congress (as well as nationally oriented PACs), mostly, but not exclusively to Republicans, he (or they) is (or are) [a] Manhattan-based lawyer/lobbyist(s). The Queens-based doctor has only given to local campaigns in Queens and then only twice, over a decade ago.     

Faced with a candidate for national office seemingly uninterested in national politics, Golub appears to have reached it a copy of Bartlett’s familiar clichés. The statement says virtually nothing about anything:

"As the third child of a pharmacist and NYC school teacher in a middle-class family, Robert Mittman learned, at a very young age, what it meant to “work for a living.” It’s with that perspective that he recognizes that the middle class in Queens is being threatened today. Dr. Mittman wants to bring an independent voice to our nation’s capital, help stop excessive and wasteful government spending, move Healthcare reform in the right direction and help the economy get back on track.

Mittman states, “I decided to run for the United States Congress because I believe that our government is no longer working in the best interest of the people. Something is wrong in Washington and as a lifelong community resident, a parent, a voter and medical doctor I am here to offer a "Prescription for a Healthy Economy.”

Mittman continued, “I am not a career politician like all of my opponents. I’m a medical doctor who runs a practice on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, Queens. As a doctor, I have been trained to diagnose an illness and prescribe the proper treatment. I will apply these same techniques as a representative in Congress. My candidacy gives the voters in the 6th Congressional District a real alternative to politics as usual.”

Aside from the pictures, the website is generic beyond belief. No one even bothered to get a personalized URL, instead using whatever was handy and laying around:

http://slimyourbodyfast.com/

The same could be said for much of the text:

“Safe Streets, Safe Neighborhoods”

Yes my friends these are very trying times for America.  Unfortunately, Republicans and yes, Democrats alike have engaged in partisan bickering, finger pointing, grandstanding and name calling instead of working together to get America back on track!”

“Our Congress is now being led by career politicians who follow the marching orders of antiquated political machines, lobbyists and Big Money Interests.  Our system is broken and in need of repair.  Our politicians have lost sight of what our democracy should be, a government By the People and For the People.”

“Our National budget should be about the people’s priorities and not the priorities of big corporations, lobbyists and other special interests.  We need to reduce waste, fraud and unnecessary spending to help balance the budget.”

It seems amazing that a self -proclaimed “citizen-candidate” should in the earliest days of his candidacy already barfing up pre-chewed consultant-speak like “We need to reduce waste, fraud and unnecessary spending to help balance the budget.”

The whole rationale for getting rid of professional politicians is that we will never balance a budget until we elect people who can come up with something specific they want to eliminate besides “Waste” and ”Fraud.”

Not only is Mittman talking like a generic hack on day one, but half his talking points are filler taken from the same generic spew that Golub just sold to Erik Dilan.

The Mittman website does not evince a real candidacy; it evinces someone who took a family album and a generic piece of campaign literature and spent about a half hour customizing them to create something which rendered the illusion of a real candidacy, provided that one does not look too closely.

Sort of like the kind of website Stephen Glass set up in his unsuccessful attempt to fool Michael Kelly. 

But then, something in Mittman’s bio struck me.

Mittman bragged about being Student Body President at Cardozo High School.

I felt compelled to ask a couple of reporters to do some real leg work which could not be fueled by Google.

Emails were exchanged. 

From:GATEMOUTH (gatemouthnyc@hotmail.com)
Sent:Wed 5/16/12 5:49 PM
To: Two Real Reporters (two.real.reporters@realmediaoutlests.com)

Investigative angle
 
Was Gottlieb one of his teachers at Cardozo High?

  

From:ONE REAL REPORTER (one.real.reporter@realmediaoutlet.com)
Sent:Wed 5/16/12 5:51 PM
To: Gatemouth (gatemouthnyc@hotmail.com)
Cc: Another.real.reporter (antherrealreporter@realmediaoutletcom)

I'm still not 100% convinced Mittman actually exists. I know he says he does, but still 

Giving up, I just noted in my column:

Mittman brags about having been Student Body President at Benjamin Cardozo High School.

Query: Was Jeff Gottlieb his favorite teacher?

I still don’t know.

This is what I do know.

After a thorough examination of Federal, State, and City databases, it appears that Dr. Robert Mittman has never given any money to a Federal or State Campaign. Only twice has he felt enough motivation to give money to a local candidate.

Here’s is the first and largest campaign donation ever recorded by Dr. Robert Mittman:

MITTMAN, ROBERT J

BAYSIDE, NY 11361

ROBERT J. MITTMAN M.D.
PHYSICIAN

Gottlieb, Jeff
City Council  (2001)
02/09/2000$250.00 

Folks, where there's smoke, there's fire (perhaps not the best choice of words).