BY ARTHUR SCHWARTZ | On Tues., June 28, we have an important election. The first of two primaries. Remember, elections have consequences, as we learned too well in 2016.
The most important races on the ballot on June 28 are the races for governor and lieutenant governor. In my mind the choices aren’t even close. Kathy Hochul served in Congress, where she got an A+ rating from the N.R.A. for voting against continuing the assault rifle ban, and became Andrew Cuomo’s right-hand woman. Never said a word about Cuomo’s excesses, which we have heard a lot about for the last 18 months. He was mean, vindictive and a womanizer. He refused to release billions in education funding. He refused to add an extra tax on the ultra-wealthy. During the worst days of COVID he forced patients into nursing homes and lied about it, especially after they died at alarming rates. Etc. Did Kathy Hochul say a word? No.
And when she chose her own lieutenant governor, she chose a man who was already being investigated by a grand jury. Yes, it’s a change to have a woman, but it will be more important to have a forward-minded activist like Jumaane Williams, who has a career that involves taking guns off the streets, fighting to reduce class size and opposing government corruption.
And for lieutenant governor, we have a choice between an astounding woman, Ana Maria Archila, and Hochul’s second lieutenant governor choice, a congressman who supported Trump on his border policies. Ana Maria has a career as an activist, she is a mom of two, and is L.G.B.T. How amazing it will be to have a lieutenant governor who serves as a check on the governor, and who turns the office into something like statewide public advocate.
But now to the subject of this piece — assemblymember for the 66th Assembly District. Deborah Glick has been in that office since 1990 — yes, 32 years! When the corrupt, bribe-taking Sheldon Silver ran the Assembly, Deborah Glick was his top enforcer. (Although, even with that, he didn’t allow her to block the creation of Hudson River Park, which she tried to do in 1998.) When Silver was indicted, Glick demanded that he not lose his job unless he was convicted. And when she lost on that argument, a photo of a sobbing Deborah Glick appeared in the Albany Times-Union. Since Silver left, she has become one of the most singularly ineffective members of the Assembly and an ineffective community leader. Can anyone remember hearing from Deborah when 1,000 New Yorkers were dying every day back in spring 2020?
But I am going to vote for her on June 28, as are many other community leaders. Her opponent, Ryder Kessler, is worse. He is not rooted in any community struggles. He came out in support of the Soho/Noho rezoning plan, which every community leader in those communities, and Chinatown, denounced as a pro-developer land grab, one of the last such projects of its sort promoted by Mayor de Blasio. Kessler supports the expansion and permanent status for the street sheds originally created to allow restaurants to reopen, sheds that allow landlords to charge more rent (for using public space), which cause many Village streets to become loud party spaces night after night, which make sidewalks impassable for the elderly and disabled, and impassable for Access-a Ride and emergency vehicles. At least Deborah is on the right side on those issues
Kessler appears to be associated with a pro-development group called Open New York that cloaks itself in the mantel of affordable housing, but which is really a front group for developers. They want more development in Soho and the Village, taller buildings, more “market-rate housing,” with fewer setbacks (called open space). Their funders are mysterious, unnamed donors, and their “volunteer, grassroots” leaders are actually paid salaries.
But then let’s look at Ryder’s contributors. He has raised more than $150,000 and threw in $70,000 of his own money. Ninety-five percent of his contributors are people who don’t live in the district, and 90 percent come from outside of New York City. He has a lot of big checks. More than $9,000 from one husband-and-wife team of hedge funders. Bank officers. Corporate owners. Entrepreneurs. Big checks, running from $1,000 to $6,500, not the sort of checks that grassroots folks interested in “lower rents” (from his literature) write. He is part of some network of young businesspeople who support his call for MORE DEVELOPMENT in our neighborhood, sugarcoated with promises of affordable housing.
And what is most astounding is that his campaign never discusses issues germane to the state Legislature, such as school funding and class size, taxing the wealthy, criminal justice reform, guns, climate change, election reform. Maybe this is an early run for City Council — watch out, Erik Bottcher!
It will take a lot for me to fill in the circle next to Deborah Glick’s name, but on June 28, I will vote Williams, Archila, Glick AND Erin Hussein for Democratic State Committee versus Rachel Lavine.
Schwartz is the male Democratic district leader for Greenwich Village and a labor/civil rights lawyer. He ran for Assembly against Deborah Glick in 2016 but withdrew for health reasons. He was running — on a slate with Erin Hussein — for Democratic State Committee versus incumbent Ben Yee in this current primary election but withdrew due to a health reason and also due to his heavy load representing other candidates as their campaign counsel.
This is just such a perfect distillation of the NIMBY mindset. It acknowledges that Glick is corrupt, has bad policies such as opposing the creation of Hudson River Park, and is “one of the most singularly ineffective members of the Assembly and an ineffective community leader.” But as soon as someone comes along with a positive vision for the district (in the descriptive sense, not the normative one), all of a sudden being corrupt and doing nothing is better than trying to do something.
Unsurprising to me, I disagree with *almost* all of Arthur Schwartz’s choices; but unlike Schwartz, it didn’t “take a lot” for me to fill in the circle next to Deborah Glick’s name. Just to be sure, I did that early —- today.
Actually, for me, this wasn’t a slam dunk. Glick’s constituent services fall short, and her record has blemishes. But two overarching considerations made my choice easy. First, in NY State’s Assembly, Glick shepherded legislation expanding camera enforcement of speeding motor vehicles to 24/7/365. Because of Glick’s skill as a legislator, we’ll all have safer streets. And second, with the community she represents, Glick opposes restaurant crap shacks (though her opposition is … nuanced). Crap shacks blight our neighborhood. Glick’s opponent supports crap shacks.
Are we at the point of “holding our noses” to vote? If the main criteria for voting is to vote against the worst candidate then it really does not matter who we vote for. In our one-party city, where only primary elections matter, the big campaign donors will rule over whichever one wins because they control the leadership of both the City Council and Albany. The moral corruption of the Council speakers prove the case that the Democratic leadership is one of the most corrupt in the nation.
This writer sure as hell didn’t need Arthur Schwartz to tell me that NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is a better choice for governor than the current occupant of that office. My question is: Why is his opinion of such burning interest that the headline writer would suggest the world might explode over his announcement that he will also vote for Deborah Glick? Yes, he’s put her down for years and now he damns her with thunderous faint praise in his self-important pronouncements. He also claims Glick was the late “bribe-taking” Sheldon Silver’s “top enforcer.” This accusatory fellow will never be remembered as Silver is and was as the NYS Assembly speaker who helped maintain rent regulations for 2 million city dwellers at time when they were about to expire. If Glick helped Silver do that, and I think she did, she will get my vote.
Actually, it was Arthur Schwartz’s suggested headline (what he wrote on the submission). We just ran with it. Sorry if you felt it was over the top.
Thanks for the explanation. Schwartz is almost always “over the top” in his varied allegations.
Arthur’s has always made good sense. Open space is a priority. Also, with so many workers no longer going into the office, the city now has many office buildings that can be repurposed for affordable housing, youth centers, schools, hospitals, etc. An enterprising public servant needs to create a program to help this happen. An office building can be repurposed for many uses but not for open/park space. We need to preserve all city-owned open space Downtown.
When the pandemic hit and many in my community lost our jobs and couldn’t get through to unemployment phone lines, Deborah Glick and her office responded to our calls and e-mails immediately and got Albany to contact us all directly within 48 hours. Eternally grateful and I will support her as long as she runs!