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City Councilman Lew Fidler — rich man or poor man? You decide.
The debate of the century came up at the March 16 meeting of the Marine Park Civic Association, when Michael Sosin complained that politicians make too much money and should return the excess cash to the city’s coffers.
Fidler (D–Mill Basin) was at the meeting and didn’t like what he was hearing.
“The tuition costs for both my children — one in college and one in law school — exceeds my income,” Fidler said, adding. “I don’t look into your wallet, sir.”
The good news is that we can: Fidler’s Council salary is $112,500 — plus $15,000 for his chairmanship of the Youth Services Committee.
So you be the judge: Can Lew Fidler live on roughly $127,500? Could you?
Stewart aide sentenced
An aide to former Flatbush City Councilmember Kendall Stewart is on his way to a halfway house.
Asquith Reid, Stewart’s chief of staff until he was charged with embezzling city funds allocated to youth programs in the district, was sentenced on March 19 to three years probation, including nine months at a halfway house.
He will also be required to “forfeit the proceeds of his crime,” as well as pay a still-to-be-determined sum of money in restitution, according to court documents.
Reid had previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and one count of witness tampering. Another former Stewart staffer, Joycinth “Sue” Anderson, also pleaded guilty to siphoning money allocated to community-based organizations in which Reid and Anderson were involved.
Stewart was defeated last year in his bid for re-election by community organizer Jumaane Williams, who trounced the incumbent in the Democratic primary and again in the general election.
Ironically, on the day of Reid’s sentencing, Williams had convened a forum for not-for-profit groups in the district as part of a move toward “results-based accountability” and increased transparency.
Before being allocated funds, each group will have to explain how the funding will forward the goals of the district as a whole, Williams said.
And then there were seven
The political action committee Fight Back New York continues to insist it’s not targeting any specific lawmakers who voted against the marriage equality bill — it’s targeting all of them.
Following the defeat of disgraced Queens Senator Hiram Monserrate, the group produced a poster depicting eight black chairs set on a blood-red background, one of which was toppled on its side. The name on the fallen chair reads “Monserrate.”
Spokesperson Alex Navarro said the image is simply a way for supporters to celebrate Jose Peralta’s March 16 victory — and a symbol that seven more votes are required to pass the controversial bill. “The goal of the fight is to get the number [of votes] up to 32,” Navarro said. “It’s the seven more chairs we need to do something about,” he continued.
Navarro said the long-term strategy will be either to get incumbents to change their minds, or “replace the people who sit in those chairs.”
In Brooklyn, only Democrat Carl Kruger and Republican Marty Golden voted against the bill.
Navarro said that while the group has not made any decisions about how to “get” the next seven, he insisted that “no one will be getting a pass.”
The group will gauge an incumbent’s popularity, resources, and whether the district has enough people who care about marriage equality.
Both Golden and Kruger represent socially conservative neighborhoods and enjoy popularity in their districts, so it remains to be seen whether their chairs can even be nudged.
One longtime political observer wondered how committed Fight Back New York is to getting its hands dirty.
“Are they only going after people who are easy to take out?” he asked. “What kind of message does that send?”
Democratic District leader Olanike “Ola” Alabi’s got some friends in high places.
Alabi, the 57th Assembly District leader representing Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights, is throwing a fund-raiser for herself starring a host of big-name guests, including Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Comptroller John Liu, Senate Majority Leader John Sampson and State Sen. Eric Adams.
But DeBlasio and the rest aren’t just honoring Alabi. The April 8 pow-wow at Two Steps Down on DeKalb Avenue will also honor United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and union Presidents Stuart Appelbaum (RWDSU), George Gresham (1199SEIU) and Norman Seabrook (COBA). Togba Porte of DC 37 — Local 420 is also expected to attend.
With this much star power, the obvious question had to be asked: Is Alabi looking to run for something bigger than district leader?
Sources say yes, although she’s waiting for the U.S. Census to be completed to see if any district lines will be moved. The Census could open up a new seat or two in Central Brooklyn, where there’s been a strong growth in population, sources said. It could also mean some incumbents could be redistricted in a way that would make them vulnerable come the next election.
With plates starting at $50 and going up to $500, Alabi will undoubtedly walk away from the event with a fairly large war chest. Some incumbents may just want to watch their backs.
Friend of the gays
Here’s a crazy little tidbit that fell through the cracks during Monday night’s rally decrying the March 2 gay bashing on Luquer Street.
As every local elected official in the city cried out for justice, standing front and center with a vigil candle in hand was John Heyer.
No one seemed confused by the presence of this longtime Carroll Gardens resident and would-be elected official even though Heyer is an opponent of gay marriage, a stance that earned him plenty of heat during last year’s run for the Council, a race that ultimately went to gay marriage supporter Brad Lander.
Even more surprising than Heyer’s presence at the anti-hate rally (after all, who likes hate?) was that Heyer somehow managed to get quoted in Lander’s follow-up press release about the rally.
Even zanier was that he somehow managed to insert his pro-life stance — another controversy from last year — to settle the score during his remarks about the anti-gay attack.
“A central tenet of my religious beliefs is the sanctity of human life,” he said in the press release. “Since I have been personally singled out due to my heritage and religious beliefs, I would never want anyone stigmatized or victimized because of race religion, gender ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
Lemon? Meet lemonade.
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