The Joe Bruno Democrats (Pilot Episode)
Like a rabid dog in the last throes of delirium, Senate Republican Leader Joe Bruno is flailing about, wrecking as much havoc as possible before the inevitable. Unfortunately, as always, a Democrat has once again come to his rescue, helping him to live on to face another inglorious day of singing about the virtues of self-reliance while he and his allies rob every last dollar from the public till, because they can. At the end of the film, the cop looks at Jack Nicholson and says “It’s Albany, Jake”.
The only difference between this year and all the others is that this time the Democrat providing Bruno with his life raft has not done it intentionally. Mario Cuomo used to throw Warren Anderson and Ralph Marino bouquets. Eliot thought he was throwing Joe Bruno a rock, but it turned out to be a rope, and now Joe’s hanging him with it. Only in Albany could a Governor catch a legislative leader of the opposite party using state helicopters for political purposes and end up turning it to the leader’s advantage. Now, to top it off, the Governor’s found a way for a man who should be making license plates to be making hay from them instead. It is to weep.
Joe Bruno should be toast in the long term, and no one knows it better than he. His once robust majority has gradually evolved into a naturally occurring retirement community of old men sadly serving out terms of life imprisonment without parole on their way to the elephant’s graveyard. It survives in a hothouse environment supported by the artificial sunlight of member items, “member services”, legislation sold to the highest bidder, malapportionment and inertia; its greatest enemies are actuarial tables and changing demographics.
Bruno’s known this for years, but he’s had a strategy for the new century he’s gradually evolved over the last decade. Run 'em as Dems, keep em as Dems, but have their votes to organize the Senate if the Dems ever take the majority. It's called "the Kruger Plan".
The Senate Republican majority is doomed in the long-term unless they find a way to corral some non-Republicans into either switching parties or voting with them to organize. This has now been their long-range strategy for many years. They find "Democrats In Name Only" and run them in prohibitively Democratic districts, so they can hold them in reserve in case the Dems ever take the majority.
Example #1: Get washed up go-go dancer Nancy Larraine Hoffman, to change parties. Query: When Joe posed the idea, did she fall out of bed? When she told the Senate Dems she was screwing them all at once, did they think they were being invited to an orgy, or were they just bored? In Albany, Nancy was known as “The Tail of Two Parties” even before she switched sides. Actually, two parties would have been a slow night for her.
Example #2: Get Olga Mendez to switch parties. Even if I provided salacious details, who would believe them?
Example #3: Get Pedro Espada to change parties while maintaining his Democratic enrollment so he can still run in the Democratic Primary. The Democrats actually stopped this one by beating Bruno at his own game by running DINO Ruben Diaz. Diaz, Espada; both have Jewish messiahs, but one follows Jesus and the other Fred Newman.
Example #4: Woo Diaz. That'll teach 'em.
Exampla #5: Run Guillermo Linares against Eric Schniederman. Joe Bruno trying to screw Schniederman; it’s the arrogance of power versus the power of arrogance.
Example #6: Give Nellie Santiago the Republican line and try to draw the Satmar into her district. This was only foiled because George Pataki owed Santiago enemy Vito Lopez a bigger favor.
Example #7: Get Democratic Assemblyman Joe Robach to switch parties and run for the Senate. This was abetted by Shelly Silver, who was glad to have Robach gone.
Example #8: Run Noach Dear in the Democratic Primary against divided black opposition. Tried it three times, would have done it a fourth, but Dear (he hopes) got a job that doesn’t require commuting. Between Santiago and Dear, Vito Lopez has done more to foil Joe Bruno accidentally than most county leaders, himself included, have done on purpose.
Example #9: Run Democratic Assemblyman Steve Kaufman in the Democratic Primary against Jeff Klein, while also attempting to run him as a Republican, Conservative and Independence. This was abetted by Shelly Silver, who was glad to have Kaufman gone.
Example #10: Get political transsexual Tony Herbert, already surgically remade as a Republican, to pretend to have his Democratic credential reattached, and run him against Velmanette Montgomery.
Rule of thumb: not every primary to a Senate Democratic incumbents stems from Bruno, and some of the Senate Demorats may even deserve primaries, especially the one(s?) owned by Bruno, but, generally, if there's talk of giving a Senate Dem a primary, one should at the very least go hunting for the man behind the curtain.
Example #11: Carl Kruger; already bought and paid for, many times over, but like a case of the clap, or Nancy Larraine Hoffman, Kruger is the gift that keeps on giving. Worth an article all his own; will get one soon.
#12: Woo Hiram Montseratte and attend his fundraiser. This is being aided and abetted by John Sabini and Jack Daniels. Sabini may end up the only person in his immigrant heavy district unable to get a driver’s license. Does Sabini really have a drinking problem? Have you any idea who he’s dated?
The only question is what’s the next move? My guess is that they are preparing to run Marty Golden supporter Matthieu Eugene in East Flatbush. Rock Hackshaw guesses it will be Una Clake.
But it’s more that just that. If Bruno was unable to find a Democrats to change parties, or to be his Trojan horse or wolf in sheep’s clothing, he was always able to find other ways to acquire their support for Republicans. The sad history of Democratic Governors, Assembly Speakers, State Chairs and County Leaders showing less than acute interest in taking the Senate has been well documented, especially by me. This piece, http://www.r8ny.com/blog/gatemouth/nolo_contendre.html, contains links documenting all of this and more. But this was no longer enough for Joe Bruno. He needed innovation to bring his conference, limping and lame, into the 21st century.
A race in 2002 set new precedents for how far Joe Bruno could go in buying off local Democratic party officials, with no one taking any steps to enforce discipline. This was the race where incumbent Vinnie Gentile’s district was decimated in reapportionment, as the Republicans prepared to beat him with Bay Ridge Councilman Marty Golden.
Let me talk a little about Mr. Golden. “Progressives” like Chris Owens have sought to vilify County Leader Vito Lopez for the sweet deal developer Bruce Ratner got in the recently passed 421-A tax abatement legislation, laying the blame entirely upon Lopez. And certainly, Lopez acquiesced in this sordid little deal. But the “progressive” blogocracy has been so eager to use this as a bludgeon to beat Lopez that they’ve ignored the real culprit. As virtually only left blogger Daniel Millstone has pointed out, the 421-A bill did a lot to benefit residents of poor neighborhoods, which was clearly Lopez’s priority. To get what he wanted, Lopez admits to acquiescing to the demands of the Senate Republicans, who cared only about the Real Estate Board’s #1 priority, Mr. Ratner (as they sold out hundreds of other landlords; I’d cry if it weren’t so funny). It’s all documented in a June 29, 2007, New York Times article. The ringleader carrying Mr. Ratner’s water: Marty Golden. Yet, the “progressive” blogocracy puts all the blame on Lopez, and ignores, for perhaps the first and only time, the opportunity to bash a Senate Republican. Aren’t their priorities somewhat out of whack? Well, they may be Progressive Democrats, but they're still Brooklyn Democrats, so I guess it's only natural that they go a little soft on Marty Golden.
The 2002 race where Golden won election was an historical landmark. It was nothing new for Brooklyn Democrats to endorse Republicans for President, Governor and Mayor, but never had Brooklyn Dems jumped ship, en masse, to desert a local incumbent. Nonetheless, one had to forgive them, for they only gave up their support after hours of torture being forced to contemplate huge piles of cash, pork and patronage. Five members of the Democratic State Committee jumped ship, as did an incumbent Councilmen, Assemblyman and, incredibly, a Democratic State Senator. And no one was punished. In fact, the conspirators prospered; one became a judge.
The next year, to show there were no hard feeling, some of the conspirators actually backed Gentile for the remainder of Golden’s Council term. How perfect. Much better to have a Democratic Councilman and a Republican State Senator than the other way around. Good for the neighborhood. Good for Brooklyn. This race became the model for Joe Bruno’s dream operation, and epitomizes the obstacles in the way of a Democratic Senate (although a few honorable heroes like District Leader Bernie Catcher and Councilman Dominick Recchia stood out from the muck).
As such, I have taken names, and will be naming them; I’m fully pumped and loaded for bear, as I embark upon the beginning of what I intend to become a regular and recurring series: “The Joe Bruno Democrats”. The particular focus of this series will be to name and exfoliate all the “Democrats” who jumped shipped on the party in the 2002 Golden/Gentile race, as an example to others that such behavior will no longer be tolerated. I will be cruel and unusual in my punishment, far exceeding the bounds of decency. But I promise not to use the resources of the State Police or the Internal Revenue Service.
Yes, the obvious names will be covered: Carl Kruger and Dov Hikind will be exposed for who they are for the 150th time. Mention will be made of their indictments, even though no criminal convictions resulted. Any guilt I may harbor for such cheap shots will not trouble me in the least when talking about the Garson Crime Family and their actual criminal convictions.
But we will also delve into areas unexpected. Unfortunately, the series will not name all of those who sat on their hands and did nothing, or otherwise took a dive, for there are only some many days in the year. Sleep easy Bill DeBlasio, no one will find out you ignored the Gentile/Golden race because you were busy expending all of your resources in a Sunset Park Special Election for Council between three Democrats with identical positions on every issue but their choice for Council Speaker (not to mention how you withheld Clinton money from the Senate Dems in 2000 to punish them for having Carl Kruger within their ranks, as if that wasn't punishment enough).
Instead, we will endeavor to name all the out and out collaborators. Not merely the obvious ones, but the surprises as well. And, in fact, we shall start off our series with a surprise guest: Stay Tuned Next Time as we decimate Progressive Hero (come lately) Steve Harrison.
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