Thursday, June 10, 2010

Public Discontent

Jonathan Judge, President of the Brooklyn Young Republicans, recently posted the following article on his website. The Revolution is indeed on its way.

In the past two weeks, we have seen in reality that there are two very different Brooklyn Republican Parties.

This past Monday, I went to a special meeting of the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Club in Bensonhurst. In a standing room only crowd, I got to hear from Lucretia Regina-Potter, a very good friend of mine and a staunch reformer of the Brooklyn Republican Party, who is running for State Assembly. Also present was Michael Grimm, 13th Congressional District candidate, and Joe DioGuardi, who is running for U.S. Senate against Gillibrand. All three are petitioning their way on the ballot as the independent Republican candidates (read: not endorsed by the party).

People coming off the train were so intrigued by the size of the gathering that they decided to stop in to see what was going on. When Mike Grimm arrived, he had to fight his way through the crowd just to get to the front!

Conversely, two fellow Republicans in the 44th Assembly District, Christina and John Bennett, went to attend a meeting of the permanently-defunct-but-resurrected-temporarily-when-convenient Theodore Roosevelt Republican Club in late May.

(It is important to know that the Theodore Roosevelt Club is the brainchild of political consultant, Gerry O’Brien, who picks up a hefty $1,800 paycheck from State Senator Marty Golden each month. He is also behind some atrocious behavior that has stifled Republican Party growth in the 44th Assembly District for decades, especially as he recently performed $10,000 worth of paid work for incumbent Democratic 44th AD Assemblyman Jim Brennan (but that’s a story for another day). Never forget: paid consultants only do what they do in order to profit and accrue power to help them practice their craft better.)

However, much to even my surprise, an off-duty police officer, P.O. O’Malley, actually blocked these two people from entering, even though they are duly elected County Committee Members of the area in which the meeting was held! They were told the meeting was invitation only as she flashed her NYPD badge, despite the club’s own literature that proclaims an open invitation to all.

This behavior is yet another reason for the larger rift and atrophy (decay?) of the Brooklyn Republican Party, and indicative of why the current leaders can’t win an election to save their lives, and why the reformers haven’t been able to, either.

On the one hand, you have a club that meets in an open storefront, surrounded with large panes of glass that allow all the day’s sunshine to come through on its leaders, candidates and participants, one that welcomes strangers off the street to hear the message of the Republican Party’s principles. Such a club is despised and ever-undermined at every turn by the party.

On the other hand, you have a club that meets once in Lord knows how many years, in a Knights of Columbus hall with no windows for the public to see through, and utilizes an off-duty NYPD officer to deliberately keep people out. Worse yet, the meeting was merely a opportunity for the exclusive invitees (mostly poll workers from what I know) to witness the self-glorification of the current leaders of the failed Brooklyn Republican establishment: Chairman Craig Eaton, District Leader Marty Cottingham, and State Senator Marty Golden’s Chief of Staff and Kings County Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar (anyone wonder why a Conservative Party Chairman is talking at a Republican Club meeting?).

You may not be very surprised to hear such things occur in a closed-off political club meeting, but the offense comes from the fact that these individuals have allowed Brooklyn Democrats to co-opt the Republican Party for certain perks (something which will also be discussed further in a later post).

Ultimately, and sadly, there is a very clear trend between these two factions of the party that does not bode well for Republicans and reformers unless we start to act.

What we see from the Theodore Roosevelt Republican Club and the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Club is replicated throughout the borough in Republican circles. The party leadership à la TR Club is exclusive, by invitation only and no dissent is permitted or the cops will show you the door.

That’s why the party went to great lengths to remove Yvette Velázquez Bennett as 44th AD District Leader–despite her profound loyalty to its leadership–because she dared to demonstrate independent and principled thought (when, for instance, she voted against giving Mayor Michael Bloomberg the Republican Party line in exchange for a $125,000 donation to the party, especially when the Mayor and the party have infrequently agreed on policy).

That’s why the party is going to even greater lengths to annihilate the Republican infrastructure of the 49th Assembly District because it dares to think on principle and act independently–and has the resources to make it happen. They would much rather enjoy the fruits of their cozy deals with local Democrats, including 49th AD Assemblyman Peter Abbate, to protect Marty Golden’s State Senate seat.

That’s why the party’s leaders have a pathological fear of allowing any intelligent, motivated and conscientious Young Republicans play any kind of leadership role in Republican politics. Not only do they worry deeply that they are meeting their replacements, but that their own undermining of the party has weakened themselves to the point that the replacement may be happening sooner than they would like.

And sadly, most of the remainder of the Republican Party leadership, even those who do see how bad things have gotten, concurrently hold Board of Election jobs that are significantly controlled by the party bosses. That means: do as leader says, or lose your job, capisce?

This is not the state in which the great and proud Brooklyn Republican Party should be. We can do better and we ought to strive to make it so. Luckily, we have the Fiorello LaGuardia Republican Club, and the Brooklyn Young Republican Club, and many other grassroots Republican activists, for instance, which have prided themselves on an open-door policy. Every Republican is welcome and actually welcomed (not when it is only convenient to permit). Whatever we do, we make perfectly public. The YRs have even begun operating meetings online so not only can more people be a part of the experience, but every single word that is said is recorded for future public consumption and scrutiny.

For those of us 112,000 Republicans out there in Brooklyn, we need you to care locally as much as you do nationally. We need you to help sign and collect the petitions of the candidates who are not only best equipped to make the case for Republicanism at the polls in November, but also those who are going to do the most to reform and propel the nearly-defunct Brooklyn Republican Party towards brighter and more prosperous days.

The reformers are here to stay. If you’re game, email me at or call me at 718-360-9583 and let’s show Republicans, Democrats and independents what real, honest change in the right direction looks like.

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"Every generation needs a new revolution."
- Thomas Jefferson