Brooklyn Boro

Brooklyn Political Roundup, April 4: Donovan fights back against accusations

April 4, 2018 By Paula Katinas & John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan. Photo courtesy of Donovan’s office

In Public Service, From The Political Staff Of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Donovan fights back against favoritism accusation

A race between two Republicans for the Southwest Brooklyn congressional seat is growing more heated by the day.

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) flatly denied reports that he used his position as a member of Congress to secure a desk appearance ticket for the son of his partner after the son was arrested on heroin possession charges in 2015.

Donovan, who is planning to run for re-election in November, held a press conference at his Staten Island campaign headquarters on Monday and denied having anything to do with the case against Timothy O’Connell, the son of his companion Serena Stonick.

An anonymous person filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics accusing Donovan of using his stature as congressman and the former district attorney of Staten Island to help O’Connell get a desk appearance ticket after the heroin bust.

The New York Post, which broke the story, reported that most suspects in heroin-related cases are held in jail until bail is posted and are not given desk appearance tickets.

Donovan has asked the House Ethics Committee to expedite its investigation and requested that the anonymous person who filed the ethics complaint come forward, The Staten Island Advance reported. 

“To use our family and the addiction that so many people are going through with their own families is disgusting, outrageous and the public should know about it,” the Advance quoted Donovan as saying.

Donovan is locked in a bitter battle with former Congressmember Michael Grimm, who is challenging the incumbent in the Republican primary in June.

“I don’t know if Michael Grimm is the anonymous source, but someone had to instruct this individual, because most citizens would not know how to file a house ethics committee compliant,” Donovan stated at the press conference. 

Grimm denied being behind the complaint to the Ethics Committee. 

“I have no comment on this story other than to question how a felony distribution case magically turned into a misdemeanor, as O’Connell’s own lawyer admitted to the New York Post. Donovan could put this scandal to bed once and for all by releasing his, his girlfriend’s, and his chief of staff’s cell phone records from the night of O’Connell’s heroin bust to prove he had no knowledge or involvement in the case,” Grimm told the Advance. – PK

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Jeffries returns from Middle East trip

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Canarsie-Sheepshead Bay-Coney Island), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, has returned to the U.S. from a recent trip to the Middle East and Afghanistan led by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Jeffries was part of a 10-member delegation that traveled to Israel, Jordan and Afghanistan.

In Israel, Jeffries took part in talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. “The U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the most important alliances our country has, and I was proud to have the chance to reaffirm our commitment to a two-state solution and peace in the region,” Jeffries said in a statement.

The congressional delegation met in Anman, Jordan with King Abdullah II and discussed the challenges currently facing Jordan. 

In Afghanistan, Jeffries and the delegation met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

Jeffries also got the chance to meet U.S. troops serving on the front lines. “These heroic men and women put their lives on the line every day to make the world safer. They embody the spirit of service and bravery of our armed forces. It was a privilege to meet them and hear their stories,” he said.

The delegation received a briefing from U.S. military leaders on the ground and from officials at the U.S. Embassy on the status of U.S. missions across the country. – PK

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Treyger re-introduces alternate side bill

Motorists should be able to park their cars anywhere on days when primary elections are taking place, according to Councilmember Mark Treyger.

Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) has re-introduced a bill to suspend alternate side parking regulations on days when primary elections are held.

It would not only make life easier for residents, but it would and help increase voter turnout, Treyger said.

“It has never been more important for New Yorkers to be actively engaged in the civic process. Yet our city’s voter turnout numbers, particularly in primary elections, are disappointing, dismal and unacceptable. We need to remove as many hurdles as possible that prevent voters from showing up to polling sites. I’m proud to introduce this common-sense legislation that will empower New Yorkers to fulfill their civic duty by making voting on primary days easier and more accessible for our working families,” Treyger said in a statement.

In an effort to prove his point, he pointed to low voter turnout figures in primaries in recent years. In the Democratic Primary that took place on Sept. 12, 2017, only 14 percent of registered Democrats voted. Four years earlier, in September 2013, approximately 20 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the primary. – PK

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Gounardes gains CBID endorsement 

Democrat Andrew Gounardes, who is running against journalist Ross Barkan for the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican-Conservative state Sen. Marty Golden in the 22nd State Senate District (Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn), has picked up the endorsement of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID).

“We are proud to work with Andrew in this critical election, which could flip the state Senate back to Democratic control,” CBID President Asher Novek said in a statement. “He has the right vision for Brooklyn, the right ideas for change, and the right leadership qualities to make it happen. We can’t wait for him to be the next senator from Brooklyn.” 

Gounardes said he was honored to receive the endorsement. 

“The Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats are a force for good in Brooklyn. Their support validates the work I’ve been doing to make a difference in our community. I’m excited,” he said in a statement. – PK

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Clarke announces art contest

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) is inviting students to participate in the 2018 Congressional Art Competition, a nationwide contest in which the winners will enjoy the opportunity to have their work displayed in the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Under the contest rules, students submit original artwork.

The contest, which is sponsored by the Congressional Institute, promotes artistic expression, Clarke said.

Clarke said she is currently accepting submission in the contest. “I encourage every student to participate in this year’s art competition and I look forward to seeing this year’s entries,” she said in a statement.

Clarke called the competition one of her favorite activities as a legislator. “It gives students in the Ninth Congressional District an opportunity to express themselves and share their unique creative visions with friends, family and their community. Brooklyn is home to several renowned artists such as Ruth Abrams, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Marion Greenwood, and to this day remains a cultural capital for contemporary artists. I believe the next generation of skilled artists is right here in Brooklyn,” she said. 

 The deadline for students to submit their artwork is May 2.

For more information, visit Clarke.house.gov or call District Representative Reginald Belon at 718-287-1142. – PK 

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Golden blasts State Parole Board decision

State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-I, Bay Ridge) blasted the most recent decision by the State Parole Board, regarding the release of Christopher Thomas, who is, according to Golden, responsible for one of New York City’s most infamous mass shootings and is scheduled reside next to a day care center upon his release.

“Christopher Thomas abused cocaine, and then went to the home of his drug dealer.  Finding that his dealer wasn’t home, he executed eight children between the ages of four and 14, and their two mothers,” Golden said.  “All of this was done on Palm Sunday in 1984. Now, the State Board of Parole has seen fit to return this psychopathic killer back on the streets of our great city.”

Golden noted that the Thomas case is the most recent in a rash of controversial releases made by the Parole Board. He cited examples including the December 2017 Board of Parole release of John Ruzas, who was convicted of the October 1974 shooting of New York State Trooper Emerson Dillion and the March 2018 release of Herman Bell, who was convicted in the killing of two NYC police officers and one officer in San Francisco.

“Nobody is paroled by accident,” Golden said.  “A lengthy process must be followed before anyone is released back into society.  We know that certain critical pieces of information were ignored in the release of cop killer Herman Bell.  How many violent, hardened criminals have to be released before the Board of Parole stops this cycle of bad decisions?”- JA

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Brooklyn Reform Party announces endorsements 

The Brooklyn Reform Party announced its first endorsements for Congress this week. A Democrat, an Independent and a Republican were selected to run on the Reform Party line in local congressional races.

“We are no ordinary political party and are not a rubber stamp for any other one either,” said New York State Reform Party Chairman Curtis Sliwa. “Our Brooklyn committee’s congressional endorsements demonstrate this reality, and we will continue to support anyone who is committed to real reform in government like these three outstanding candidates.”

In the 10th Congressional District, which covers parts of Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Sunset Park, as well as parts of Manhattan, the Reform Party endorsed Republican Naomi Levin to run against Jerrold Nadler.

In the hotly contested Ninth Congressional District, the Reform Party endorsed independent Joel Anabilah-Azumah, who will be running solely on the Reform Party line in November. Incumbent Yvette Clarke also faces a Democratic primary. The district includes Brownsville, Crown Heights, Flatbush, Park Slope, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach.

Jessica White, a Democrat, will also be running just on the Reform Party line against incumbent Hakeem Jefferies in the Eighth District. The district includes Canarsie, East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Coney Island, as well as Howard Beach and Ozone Park in Queens. White is a retired public school teacher and community leader.

The Brooklyn Reform Party was officially formed in January. Prior to this, the borough’s Reform Party candidates were selected by the state committee. Brooklyn Reform Party Chairman Bob Capano said that his committee will now focus on selecting candidates for Brooklyn state Senate and Assembly races. – JA

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Brooklyn pols applaud Mayor’s new guidelines for pedal-assist bicycles 

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that DOT will begin the rule-making process to clarify that pedal-assist bicycles are legal to operate in New York City. The new rule will recognize that pedal-assist bicycles are permissible, whereas throttle e-bikes, capable of travel at speeds faster than 20 mph, cannot be legally operated on city streets under state law.

“As cycling continues to grow in popularity for commuting, deliveries and tourism, we are seeing the demand for pedal-assist bicycles that can help cyclists travel longer distances and more easily climb steep hills,” de Blasio said. “With new and clear guidelines, cyclists, delivery workers and businesses alike will now understand exactly what devices are allowed.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams praised de Blasio for his efforts.  “I thank Mayor de Blasio for clarifying the legality of pedal-assist bicycles in New York City, a safe and eco-friendly mode of transportation that has been particularly useful for immigrant workers and seniors in the five boroughs,” Adams said.  

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, chair of the Committee on Immigration, also voiced his support for the mayor’s plan.

“I applaud the city and the community of bicycle workers and advocates for designing a sensible step forward,” Menchaca said.

“This new rule for pedal-assist bicycles protects our local (mostly immigrant) workers and builds on a framework that commits to safe streets for everyone. Our delivery workers are on the job long hours and can now legally use technology on their bicycles to assist them while keeping speeds low,” he added.

City Councilmember Rafael Espinal called it “a big win for the e-bike community, especially delivery workers, who rely on e-bikes to make a living.”- JA