Hey Evan there's only one Mike.
A new movie is being unveiled with the same producer, the same director, but with a new star actor. Please meet Evan Stavisky’s next piston in the Parkside machine, Austin Shafran.
When Rory Lancman announced he would not run for reelection to his Assembly Seat, it started a situation where years of pent-up political ambitions are being released.
In the days following the announcement, the newspapers mentioned the name of political hopeful Austin Shafran as a prospective candidate, however major details about his political history and personal networking with Evan Stavisky were ignored.
Shafran is said to know a lot of people. He has a big Rolodex. However, little is known about Austin Shafran in the Queens community. He’s a familiar face in Albany. His mother, Phyllis Shafran, worked for Donald Manes and Brian McLoughlin, a convicted felon and ex-assemblyman that stole from a little league (Parkside ran his campaign operation). In his professional life, Shafran worked as the former spokesman for Malcolm Smith, David Weprin, and the Senate Democrats. Presently Shafran is a Cuomo aide holding a patronage post at Empire State Development as the Vice-President of Public affairs. Celeste Katz called him ESD’s ‘top mouthpiece.’
So who is the real Austin Shafran and why does he want to run in a community that he has no connection to? Is he just another perennial opportunist? Why is Shafran even mentioned in articles exploring potential candidates? Peel back the layers and it is revealed: Shafran is the epitome of an inside servant to Evan Stavisky.
Evan please make me an Assemblyman and I'll be just as good as Mike.
Shafran has been groomed to be the perfect Parkside candidate. According to some accounts he’s bright, articulate and presentable. But behind the scenes we all know where his loyalties are. He’ll do insider bidding over constituent bidding, Parkside’s bidding over the Democratic Party’s bidding. Behind the scenes people call him a handsome hack, the Mike Gianaris of Northeast Queens.
In 2010 a contract was leaked between the DSCC and Stavisky’s Parkside consulting\lobbying firm. The contract contained heavy-handed clauses meant to ensure DSCC candidates would hire Parkside for 80% of campaign operations, or face the consequences.
According to a report in City and State, “in 2010 alone, the DSCC
reported paying Parkside $2.2 million so far during a cycle that the campaign
committee finished the cycle $2.4 million in debt while losing the majority.” Parkside also billed a total
of $500,000 to the individual campaigns of Democratic candidates David
Carlucci, Tony Avella, Toby Stavisky, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, José Peralta,
Mike Gianaris and Mike Kaplowitz.
The Parkside monopoly of political consulting fees was finally revealed.The leak set off a firestorm and the press began to scrutinize the contractual relationship. Acting as the spokesman for Senate Democrats, Shafran defended Parkside’s controversial agreement with the Senate Democrats.
“Parkside is one of the
foremost political consulting operations in the state, and their track record
is one of success,” Shafran said, explaining the contract. – CIty and State 2010.
Shafran used his bully pulpit to defend an enforced monopoly on consulting fees. He came to their rescue by pouring cold water on what should have been an investigation into a major corruption case.
Others suggest that Shafran graduated from the Hank Scheinkopf School of corruption because he worked for Scheinkopf, a notorious political operative, before becoming the spokesman for Malcolm Smith. Queenscrap called him Scheinkopf’s protégé. Maybe he’s sworn allegiance to both.
During the next couple months, don’t be surprised if Shafran finally shows up at a civic meeting. If he does, he won’t be listening to what people have to say but giggling on his blackberry with Evan Stavisky.
If Lancman doesn’t win the Congressional Primary, he will likely run for Jim Gennaro’s City Council Seat, but that’s another story. Should Shafran run for the seat, you could expect the same cliché political stances because he is an operative running for public office.
The People deserve someone better. A few noteworthy individuals were also mentioned to run for Lancman’s Assembly seat. Jerry Iannece is one of them. Although Jerry Iannece is known to be somewhat compliant with the Parkside Group, at least he’s the salt of the community; he’s the CB chairman. Dominick Panakel, Lancman’s Chief of Staff, has the energy and ambition plus grassroots experience working in constituent services. He’s also an avid campaigner. But given Rory’s current relationship with County, the decision might come down to Iannece or Shafran.
If we had to choose, we would choose Jerry Iannece.
We also speculate if Shafran ran he wouldn’t make the same mistakes as the last Parkside golden boy, Mike Sais, and be run out of the community. Expect Assemblyman Ed Braunstein to take over his District Leader spot.
It’s depressing to say with a one party system in Queens there will not be much opposition in the race. But who knows? Shafran hasn’t been elected and may surprise us and become an effective legislator like lightning caught in a bottle. Maybe his name is passed along to the media by another nameless source to scare some folks. But Shafran’s track record suggests he won’t be held accountable to the people, he’ll be accountable to Stavisky’s Parkside Group.
While he hasn’t even announced his intentions, there’s already a whisper that Austin Shafran is Mike Gianaris Part Deux.