The Irregular Democrat
It is the salaries that shock the most.
Six Hundred Grand and change for an Executive Director?
The one thing people who know Vito Lopez acknowledge first is that he is parsimonious. He runs the party’s operations on less money in a year than his predecessor had spent on one of his gold bracelets. One of Clarence Norman’s socks probably costs more than vito’s entire wardrobe.
An apocryphal story sums it up best.
From before the days of Meade Esposito, the Party’s Law Committee had traditionally celebrated the end of its grueling weekend of petition-binding and cleaning with a dinner at Manhattan’s expensive Old Homestead Steakhouse.
Vito announced he was eliminating that expense.
“But” said the Party’s Law Chair, “how will we thank the people who helped us?”
“We’ll let them keep their jobs.”
I will not say much about the doings at the Vito-founded Ridgewood-Bushwick network of social service agencies, or the clusterfuck the County Leader is currently suffering in the tabloids. .
The News and the Post are out to garrote Vito Lopez, and he has provided them with thetape they were using to do so.
As I’ve noted before, Vito Lopez is personally responsible for building and obtaining funding for a multi-tentacled social service empire which seems to have an interlocking relationship with his well oiled political local political operation in Bushwick/Williamsburg and its vicinity.
My contention has always been that most of the reason that the social service agencies inure to Lopez’s benefit is that they actually and competently deliver social services to the communities they serve.At the very least, some of the reports in the press cast doubts about the empire’s competence, and perhaps more.
One can speculate as to why the Mayor’s response has been so mild. Ridgewood-Bushwick has been pressured to reorganize, but it has not been cut off. The vast funding for its vast operations continues.
Could it be politics?
I will take the unpopular position and say “not just.”
Ridgewood Bushwick is “too big to fail.” Thousands of people daily depend upon its services. It is not easily replaced; it cannot just be shown the door.
And that situation was not created by Mike Bloomberg. It probably predates Ed Koch.
Meanwhile politics goes on, perhaps a bit altered by the new and the impeding realities (whatever they may turn out to be).
I did not attend the meeting last night of the Kings County Democratic Committee. Partly it was a child care issue (when Domestic Partner found out where I wanted to go, she suddenly felt the need to go out herself) and partially conflict avoidance (both with Domestic Partner and our County Leader).Yesterday, I’d been critical of efforts by the “reform” oriented New Kings Democrats (NKD) to propose a series of toothless and meaningless “reforms”.
Frankly, if I were a County Leader facing a rebellion, I would have been glad to call their bluff.
“Activate a committee to increase voter involvement? Gee, if that’s going to keep you guys busy, then sure, I’m all for it.”
Instead, I proposed the “reformers” try to get rid of the five personally handpicked At-Large members of the Executive Committee the County Leader pushed through at the last County Committee meeting.Two years ago, NKD appeared on the scene with a lot of fuss and bother, running candidates for meaningless positions and making a lot of noise while proposing nothing. This year, by contrast, as I suggested, they’ve run candidates for meaningful positions, and apparently elected one. Having done so though, they’ve now made meaningless proposals.
Still, they’ve already come a long way, and deserve kudos for it. But their learning curve is truly a steep one.
Two years ago, the one substantive issue brought out at NKD’s debut County Committee meeting was raised out not by a member of NKD, but by a member of Rhoda Jacobs' regular club. That was a protest against a measure creating five new slots on the Party’s Executive Committee, which proceeded to pass without any District Leaders raising a fuss (though Lew Fidler and a few others were heard grumbling loudly).
The whole thing begged the question of whether it was only the self proclaimed "reformers" who came to the meeting without a clue, since the regular leaders who voted for these new members had basically given their own personal power a self-administered circumcision.
This year, while the “reformers” were publicly crusading for their bland proposals, the County Leader upped the ante. Instead of five At-Large members, the Executive Committee would now have eleven , which would mean over one fifth of the votes on the body which elects the County Leader.
The circumcision had morphed into a castration.
The House was proposing to load the dice, while the “reformers” were busy arguing that the felt on the table be changed from green to blue.
The damn finally burst as some of the regulars could no longer hold their tongues. Lew Fidler apparently gave a speech boiling with outrage, attacking the effort as un-democratic and un-Democratic.
He even invoked the sacred and holy name of Tony Genovesi, a mentor to many of Vito’s entourage, who would have been appalled by what was transpiring.
Alas, Fidler was trying to shame those who had no shame.
The “reformers” cheered.
But, the hero of the day was not a “reformer;“ he was, like Genovesi before him, an “Irregular.”
The County Leader smarted, doubtless preparing one more indignity he could add to the list he’d already visited upon Fidler for unbecoming shows of independence. Christine Quinn was on the County Leader’s speed dial and surely has already gotten the call.
But Fidler no longer gave a fuck.
Later that night, Fidler voted for an unsuccessful effort to make “reformer” Jo Anne Simon the Vice Chair of the Party’s Executive Committee. It was a symbolic move, but the symbolism surely stung.
Fidler did not vote to oppose Lopez’s re-election, but with his vote for Simon and his speech at County Committee, he might as well have pissed upon Lopez’s loafers (meaning his shoes; unlike Clarence Norman, Vito does not tolerate “loafers” on his payroll, or anywhere else).
Back at the County Committee meeting, Fidler may have won the room, but Lopez had his proxies, and the measure to make Lopez Leader for Life passed easily.
Lopez had showed them.
But what Lopez had showed them was not a show of his strength. .
It was a show of pathetic weakness.
Real Leaders with real power need not build walls to protect themselves from those who elected them.
Instead of beating the Mutiny, Vito Queeg had left a yellow stain.
Today at noon the Party’s Judicial Nominating Convention will chose the Party’s candidates for Supreme Court. In all the fuss, I did not bother to find out who the leaders chose at their meeting last night for the open slots, but all the real contenders had excellent credentials, thanks in part to the Party’s fine screening process (mostly created by Mr. Fidler).Yet, the fine choices will today be overshadowed by the bad headlines, the shenanigans last night, and the appearance at the convention of a disgraced convicted former Judge (and former lawyer) Michael Jules Garson as one of the delegates.
Perhaps it is time for the Party to take heed of Mr. Fidler and do some rethinking.
Perhaps NKD and the other reformers have found their avatar.
One can only hope.
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