Tag Archive: Steve Behar

Jan 04 2013

Profiles In Courage: Donovan Richards for City Council

Community service should be the primary consideration for supporting a particular candidate for public office. This week, I’ve been perusing the bios of several candidates and this one in particular stands out above the rest.

Donovan Richards is an activist and community servant running for City Hall to represent the southern portion of Queens including Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Far Rockaway.

He’s young, smart, and energized. Richards has a history of community initiatives, which rival that of his opponent. Richards worked in the office of then-Councilman James Sanders in a variety of roles despite never losing sight that constituent services comes before politics. In terms of strategy he has significant name recognition with prime voters and the support of Senator James Sanders, his old boss, not to mention the strategic brilliance of Steve Behar steering the campaign.

As of this post he has $8,151 in his war chest

A special election will be held in February, according to a FB post made by Richards.

I think we as a political community are at a critical juncture staring at the upcoming races for 2013. I believe it is important to call attention to this because service is a prerequisite for running for elected office. I think this should be our golden standard, our measuring stick. Given that, I decided to share with you some of Donovan’s bio and hopefully our readers in South Queens will realize the chance to get an excellent rep in City Hall.

 

Donovan’s Record in the 31st District

Crime and Safety

  • Fought to establish “Gun Buy Back program” in Southeast Queens, successfully removing 919 from our streets
  • Allocated over $5 million dollars to place cameras in Redfern Houses and Hammel Houses to combat shootings and killings
  • Served as President of the Far Rockaway NAACP Youth Chapter, leading efforts to resist Stop & Frisk against local teens by organizing workshops with 100 Blacks & Law Enforcement to teach “Know Your Rights When Stopped and Frisked”
  • Stopped the sale of BB guns and bullet casings at Costco Wholesalers

Education

  • Organized to keep the Rosedale, Laurelton, Averne and Far Rockaway Library open after facing closure threats Mayor Bloomberg
  • Fought against the closures of daycares in Springfield Gardens and the Rockaways
  • Ensured all schools in Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and the Rockaways received $50,000 annually for technology, science labs, and playground upgrades
  • Distributed thousands of book bags and supplies for children since 2005
  • Pushed to keep PS 181 open in Rosedale despite Department of Education’s efforts to close the school
  • Pressured Department of Education to restore PS 251′s playground in Springfield Gardens after it was destroyed by a developer

Health

  • Fought tirelessly against the closure of Peninsula Hospital
  • Pressed the Health Department to increase spraying for mosquitoes this year in Rosedale and the Rockaways
  • Founded Rockaway Walks fitness program in 2005 which continues to combat high obesity rates in the Rockaways during the summer
  • Brought mobile HIV/AIDS testing to residents in the district

Community Based Initiatives

  • Led initiative to bring fresh foods and good jobs to Edgemere next year through a new supermarket
  • Worked along with Counciman Sanders and other community leaders to stop a developer from building a “hot sheet motel” across the street from Springfield Gardens HS and IS 231
  • Allocated millions of dollars to rebuild Montebello Park, Rosedale Little League Baseball Field, Rosedale Jets Football Field, playgrounds for: PS 156, PS 181, PS 104, PS 183 and PS 132 (construction will begin soon) and Lanette Playground
  • Raised thousands of dollars through car washes for disadvantaged youth
  • Called for the Department of Environmental Protection to fund a $14 million dollar project in Rosedale’s Brookville Triangle to alleviate flooding
  • Urged New York City Economic Development Corp to complete Springfield Gardens Lake Project- a $20 million dollar initiative to restore Springfield Lake’s natural beauty and alleviate flooding in Springfield Gardens

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2013/01/profiles-in-courage-donovan-richards-city-council/

Nov 21 2012

Steve Behar to succeed Senator Avella?

Civic leader Steve Behar may have an opening to run for State Senate.

As the race for Borough President heats up with more prospective candidates testing the waters, one stellar civic leader anxiously awaits an opening to represent New York’s 11th Senate District should the right pieces fall into place.

It is widely rumored incumbent Senator Tony Avella will be throwing his hat in the ring for Borough President. Should Avella become the next Beep, a special election will be held where community advocate Steve Behar will have a chance to take his place in Albany.

Behar, a progressive reformer who ran unsuccessfully for City Council and State Assembly, has been quietly building a coalition of community and civic leaders, which are already expressing encouragement.

Alfredo Centola, President of the Malba Gardens Civic Association agrees Behar would be the right choice for the district. “Steve would be phenomenally excellent and he would take into account all the needs of the community and he would listen to all the different parts of the community and work with everyone” said Centola. “He’s straightforward and he’s genuine, which is rare.”

Democratic District Leader Martha Flores Vazquez also expressed support. “Steve appears to be a gentleman with an open mind; his law experience may benefit the community in the state legislature.”

In what will be a hotly contested race pitting Avella against other campaign heavyweights like City Councilman Peter Vallone and Leroy Comrie, Lobbyist Melinda Katz, and Senator Jose Peralta, despite the strong opposition Avella is said to be mulling a chance to stand out from the crowd to gain a foothold in boro-wide politics for another shot at Mayor in 2017.

in the meantime, Behar, a member of Community Board 11, has been busy honing his campaign skills delivering victory after victory for the Democratic Party. Recently he served as field director for Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages, campaign manager for Senator-elect James Sanders, as well as spearheading the legal team for Congresswoman-elect Grace Meng.

Should the pieces fall into place, a special election will likely take place in February to fill the vacancy. The County organization will have the choice to endorse Behar in the special or risk losing his large base (who will likely stay home in protest) and give rise to Senator Halloran –  a frightening prospect for the Democratic County organization considering Republican Senator Frank Padavan represented the district for over 30 years.

Senate District 11 encompasses a huge section of Queens where Behar has strong name recognition.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/11/steve-behar-to-succeed-avella/

Nov 03 2012

DEMS Respond to call for help in South Queens

Political offices are being used as supply depots and relief centers like the office of Democratic Assemblyman Mike Miller pictured above.

Several Democrats have rolled up their sleeves to pitch in and help with what is being called a war zone in Southern Queens.

Thousands are still without power, food, water, and shelter. The gas shortage is breeding tensions as patience is wearing thin. More and more people seem to be at the breaking point looking for relief. Luckily a few super Democrats have mobilized to volunteer and assist the distressed residents of the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and Howard Beach.

“So far the biggest issue was getting food to the people who need it,” said Nick Roloson, President of the Queens County Young Dems. “I just came back from Rockaway and it looks like a war zone. The streets are covered in sand and mud. The air stinks of gas, and no one had food.”

Roloson has mobilized the Young Democrats and recruited friends and other elected officials to help with the disaster response. “We’ve been collecting food from all over Queens and Brooklyn making sure that these people get fed. We had pizzas, cereal, everything. It felt great when you got to see the smiles on the faces of the people who hadn’t eaten in a while.”

Democrat Steve Behar of Bayside drove his truck all the way down to the Rockaways to volunteer with City Councilman (Senator-elect) James Sanders. Together they surveyed the Rockaways helping to cut away trees and meet with people in the district. “We’re trying to get them in tough with the right people to help them,” said Behar who described a makeshift table set up in front of Sander’s office which lost power during the hurricane to help assist people. Power has not yet  been restored.

“My office literally burnt to the ground,” said Lew Simon, a District Leader from  23rd Assembly District and constituent liaison to Senator Shirley Huntley. “There’s a lot of anger and people are looting and fighting over water. It’s a war zone and people are in a total panic,” he said with a sense of exhaustion. Simon traveled to one of the worst hit areas in the Rockaways to volunteer, but said “he couldn’t be much help due to the severity of the situation and went online to assist and help people locate their loved ones.”

As far as other elected officials, many of them have taken to the Internet and social media to help spread the word, for example, posting notifications of the next available dry ice drop, or relief center stocked with donated food and cloths. But some elected officials may have been missing in action. According to Simon, “Well I have not seen or heard from Eric Ulrich, but I did hear from Joe Addabbo and Malcolm Smith.” Simon also alleged, “Eric was in the command center in Manhattan during the entire storm which is unacceptable.”

Many other pols have chipped in. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley sent a truckload of food and Senator Jose Peralta, City Councilman Danny Dromm, and  Assembly members Michael DenDekker and  Francisco Moya were down there with rolled up sleeves lending a hand wherever they could.

Despite the dire circumstances, the disaster is bringing out the best in some people and everyone seems to be putting politics aside to pitch in to help their neighbors, even strangers.

“Hey, I run a political club but as Gov. Christie showed the other day – when people’s lives are in danger you have to rise above it and use your political skill for something greater,” said Roloson.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/11/dems-react-to-disaster-hurricane-sandy/

Oct 29 2012

THE MAN WITH THE “CAMPAIGN MIND”

The 3rd Congressional District was reapportioned with sections of northeast Queens, a part of town where U.S Rep. Steve Israel needed to build name recognition.

The redistricting of 2012 opened the door for New York Congressman Steve Israel to step into the political consciousness of northeast Queens, but despite conventional wisdom his national job as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) wasn’t enough to raise his name recognition, it was a strong grassroots campaign initiative which helped ensure victory on Election Day.

He didn’t grow up in Queens, but he spent every Sunday here with his grandparents and his dad in the shadow of Shea Stadium, dreaming of someday playing centerfield for the New York Mets.

Being new to the area, over the summer his campaign team launched a concentrated effort to raise name recognition in Queens. Virtually overnight, campaign signs peppered the neighborhood, bumper stickers were given out, and soon civic groups and political organizations met members of his campaign team.

Israel’s iconic green and blue “Steve Israel t-shirt” became ubiquitous throughout the new parts of New York’s fifth CD running from the tip of Whitestone and as far South as Glen Oaks.  But some questions remain, who is Steve Israel, what does he stand for, and what will he do for Queens?

Steve grew up in Long Island, deep in Nassau County in Dix Hills, so naturally the question arises, does Israel know what he is getting into with us Queens folk? We don’t know for sure, yet, but what we do know is that Israel hit the campaign trail with style and it’s been hard to ignore.

To put his ear to the beat of the neighborhood, Steve began visiting the Democratic clubs, including the Clinton Democratic Club, where he was welcomed with much fanfare. Upon meeting Israel, the club’s president, Paul Vallone, concluded, “He’s an exemplary leader for New York.”

Israel made further rounds at the FDR Democratic Club, and then with a plethora of civic groups and senior centers all the while meeting one on one with community leaders. Last week Israel was greeting voters at Waldbaum’s in Bay Terrace.

Who is he, where does he stand? Steve Israel has a strong progressive record. “Steve Israel is a champion of progressive values in the United States Congress and has done an excellent job to restore the Democratic Majority in the house,” according to Steve Behar, a community advocate for northeast Queens and a national figure in progressive politics.

The eastern edge of Queens now in NY3 (in blue) includes Bay Terrace, parts of Bayside, Beechhurst, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Bellaire, and Floral Park. Map from CUNY Center For Urban Research.

But with a fickle constituency like in northeast Queens – a place where large pockets of voters register as Democrats but tend to lean Republican – Israel will have to remain cordial and open to a sense of pragmatism to transcend these differences and win the hearts of this odd mix.

So far he’s off to a great start. “I don’t care if they’re Dems or Republicans – for me before I was taught to be a Democrat, I was taught to be a Mets fan,” joked Israel – a sound bite that will bode well with voters in northeast Queens.

The political world might see Rep. Israel as the chairman of the powerful DCCC, but first and foremost comes the needs of his constituency. “My primary job is to be the representative and my part-time job is to try and take the majority,” said Israel. His statement expressed the dichotomy of his role as both a member of Congress to provide services for the new constituency and as DCCC Chair to help elect Democrats across the nation, however the line between the two can sometimes be blurry. During the interview he emphasized that the needs of the district will be his primary objective but in regards to strategy to retake the majority (which he believes will also serve not only the district, but the entire country) Israel said it’s very straightforward. It’s mostly raising awareness. “We want to remind people under the Republican majority a budget was passed that ends Medicare in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires…the Republican majority for 24 months has been trying to shut down Planned Parenthood instead of trying to open up small businesses.”

He continued, “big corporations that want to outsource jobs to China and receive tax breaks when instead we should be making it easier for middle class families to afford college in New York.” Israel believes we should expand student assistance programs, including amending the tax code. “Middle class families should be able to write off a big part of their college investments. That is a much better investment to growing an economy than letting a giant corporation write off the cost of opening up a plant in China,” the influential Dem said.

The Congressman’s voting record is as liberal progressive as his talking point. On abortion he is pro-choice (NARAL gave him a 100 rating) and he supported same-sex marriage in 2010. Year after year he receives an ‘F’ from the National Rifle Association for his position on gun rights. On the economy, Israel believes in reducing defense spending and increasing income tax brackets in order to balance the budget. In the past he has advocated for federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth and he believes in providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation.

In 2007 Israel voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. In 2009, he voted yes for senate pay raises and in 2006 a no for requiring photo-IDs for federal elections. Israel is against privatization of social security into personal spending accounts and he staunchly defends the Affordable Care Act, or what even President Obama now calls Obamacare.

Ethics reform is also a major part of his platform. I spoke candidly to him about lobbyists in their dual role as campaign managers, funneling clients and money back and forth, and the need for regulation, he raised the ethical dilemmas of Super PACs.  “I have heard plenty of concerns about ethics with respect to elected officials but I have not heard the issue of whether campaign managers should be regulated. I will say that I think this country is in need of fundamental campaign finance reform. You know have these super PACs sanctioned by the Supreme Court that can spend anything, spend any amount, not have to disclose who they are, and they’re funded by special interests who are trying to steal elections. We ought to ban them.”

In his latest initiative Israel introduced legislation to reform the electoral college which would in effect make campaigns more competitive as well as advocating for weekend voting to increase turnout in federal elections.

As chairman of the DCCC, Israel oversees a sophisticated propaganda outfit. He can dump a fortune into your campaign war chest and optimize the use of media to sway the hearts and minds of the electorate. For example last August, ahead of the House vote to repeal Obamacare, the DCCC went on the offensive with their “Drive for 25″ campaign which targeted vulnerable GOP lawmakers on healthcare ahead of the House vote.

The initiative included television ads, online videos and robo-calls, however, despite the DCCC’s best efforts, the plan was ineffective as the Republican controlled House repealed all or parts of the Affordable Care Act more than 33 times. The ads ranged from the awe-inspiring (Check out “Health Care Victory”) to the whimsical (See The Millionaires video regarding Bobby Shilling).

While the leadership position comes with such privileges as helping fellow Dems get elected, it has also cast Israel as a national target for Republicans and the far right. Recent attacks include a NY Post story that suggested Israel’s support of the TARP program is the reason he was granted a ‘bailout’ for his home in Dix Hills. State GOP Chairman Ed Cox didn’t waste any time urging an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. “The Congressman has taken advantage of his position to qualify for a debt reduction that is supposed to be reserved for hard-working families that are experiencing a financial set back,” said Cox, adding, “It is not for a congressman that wants to avoid his obligations and a personal financial loss.”

Israel said he wasn’t fazed by the scurrilous accusations. “It’s politics as usual that Republicans, who are trying to end Medicare, would find phony issues to raise against me,” he said. “It’s unfortunate when you’re one of the national leaders trying to stop Republicans from ending Medicare to fund tax cuts for millionaires, then you should expect to be a target of their attacks – it doesn’t surprise me.”

There are plenty of battles for Steve Israel to fight for in this part of Queens, but for now the Congressman from Long Island is busy building bridges on both sides of the aisle to focus on issues challenging middle class families. “Whether you’re living in Wyandach or Whitestone it’s about strengthening the economic recovery and protecting Medicare for Seniors, and stabilizing taxes.”

Visiting Queens is something he has done for his entire life, so naturally we wanted to know his favorite deli. Cherry Valley? Chrisite’s? No, the Congressman’s favorite deli is Ben’s Kosher in Bay Terrace. He told me a story about how he how he competed in a New York deli fundraiser competition in Washington – an annual tradition in it’s 30th year run by Congressman Gary Ackerman where competitors would invite the best deli to the Hill and present a full spread to Congressman Ackerman to judge the winner.  Israel chose Ben’s Deli and his competition, U.S Rep. Jerry Nadler, chose Liebman’s Deli of Brooklyn. Each won in respective categories.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/steve-israel-dccc-chair-congressman/

Oct 04 2012

Behar says two years later and Albany is still a mess!

For interesting and thought provoking political commentary check out www.boycottevil.com

Steve Behar, a former candidate for Assembly and campaign manager for James Sanders’ primary victory, is calling shenanigans on so-called “independent reform” candidates.

Behar’s blog, www.boycottevil.com is a must read for political enthusiasts. In his most recent article (which caught my eye), names were omitted, however I’m willing to bet the farm he was referring to State Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (and other candidates too) who rode into office touting reform platforms and two years later have failed to deliver on any of their promises.

Legislative reform bills are also suggested and worth further exploration. I know they are mere suggestions but it’s more than most politicians have done in their first term(s).

Anyway, hope is not lost as another essay contest from disgraced ex-Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza’s protege may very well clean up the cesspool in Albany.

Check out the article below:

From BoycottEvil: Very soon voters in New York State will once again head to the polls to vote in the upcoming Election.  While I am NOT a candidate for office this year, the season brings me back to 2010 when I was a candidate for the New York State Assembly.  It also reminds me of how dysfunctional our state government still is and how hard it will be to fix it.

In the two years since I ran for the Assembly, our state government in Albany has once again been a miserable failure and remains a cesspool of corruption.  Two years ago nearly every candidate from Montauk to Buffalo was a self-proclaimed “Independent Reformer.”  These charlatans promised to reign in the lobbyists and special interests, to institute independent redistricting and pass ethics laws to curb the corruption in Albany.  None of that happened in the last session of the legislature.

Lobbyists and special interests still buy and own our politicians.   Many times it’s not the most informed candidates who win an election.  It’s also not the most well-intentioned candidates who win elections.  Instead, most of the time it’s the candidate who is best at selling his or her soul to the monied lobbyists and special interests who get elected.  Once these rascals get to Albany, instead of writing and passing legislation for the betterment of their communities and our state, they push legislation and push contracts that support their financial backers.

Regarding independent redistricting, while in 2010 nearly every candidate signed Mayor Koch’s pledge to pass an independent redistricting law, once they got to Albany the same folks forgot their pledge and saddled our state with hideous, politically motivated districts for the next ten years. Instead of having an independent commission draw district lines that are concise and compact and keep communities together, we once again have politically motivated districts that snake through and divide communities in order to protect the incumbent representative’s re-election prospects.

The worst act of insult was the legislatures passage of a joke of an ethics law.  The law did nothing to stop the corruptive influence of dirty money in Albany.  No one cared to pass campaign finance laws to stop the corruption.  No one cared to close the loopholes that monied interests use to by-pass the current campaign finance laws.  No one passed any laws to stop the revolving door between government officials and the lobbyists.

My suggestion to the winners of the 2012 state elections is to go to Albany and actually do something!  I suggest you start with three important pieces of legislation.

1.     It’s time to pass real campaign finance reform that eliminates the strangle hold that lobbyists and special interests have on our politicians. Arizona, Maine and Connecticut each have enacted public financing of elections laws that have worked.   It is time to create such a program for New York.  It’s time that politicians answer to the people that vote for them and not the people who finance their political campaigns.

2.   While it won’t help for until the next decade, Albany must pass an independent redistricting law now so that we don’t have to deal with the political shenanigans that we witnessed this year.

…. For the full article visit the site.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/behar-says-albany-is-still-a-mess-reform-is-dead/

Nov 14 2011

Steve Behar, Leader of Progressive Politics

Steve is motivated by his heart, and a passion for good government. This is what sets him apart from the other guys.

Sometimes the good guy doesn’t win.

For those of you who don’t know, Steve Behar ran in the democratic primary for Assembly District 26. He didn’t win, but now Steve is having a more positive and influential effect on national and state policy making than many sitting incumbents.

What’s he been up to since an unsuccessful bid for State Assembly? Plenty, and he’s worth keeping your eye on.

Steve has been very active with the 99% movement at Zucotti park. He’s a member of The Alternative Banking Working Group, a committee that is part of Occupy Wall Street.

The ABWG is a voluntary organization. Its members are a very impressive group of Ivy League finance professors, attorneys, former investment bankers, and members from the financial press, even diplomats.

Steve and I agree that traditional media has a tendency to portray the 99% demonstrators as pot-smoking hippies.  This is not accurate. It’s a stereotype and you’ll sound like a fool for proliferating it.

The group, which meets every week, is exploring options  like encouraging people to transfer their money to other institutions whether mutually owned or for profit community banks and credit unions.

“We are creating new alternative financial institutions that better serve the community, and we are currently working on a regulatory regime that will be more stable to avoid future financial crisis,” said Behar.

Out of all of these candidates for Assembly, Steve Behar is the only one who was extremely knowledgable about public policy making. His former opponents have also admitted this to me, ex post facto of course.

I campaigned against Steve in the Democratic Primary for AD 26. We called him the one-man army. Little did I know that Steve is extremely knowledgeable and well spoken about public policy.

After getting to know him in the past few months (we went down to Occupy together a number of times and I’ve interviewed him for a few different outlets) I have come to realize in hindsight that Steve knew more about the issues than any other candidate.  He is an expert policy professional and I regret that he is not representing us in the Assembly right now.

Behar is well qualified to advocate for increased transparency in government. He has earned a Bachelors degree in Economics and Political Science from Albany University, an MBA in Finance and Management from Tulane University, a J.D from Tulane and an LLM in Securities and Financial regulation from Georgetown University.

Steve has traveled the country with the New York Democratic Lawyers Council making sure that everyone gets a chance to vote and that there are no irregularities at the polls. Steve was the lead election protection lawyer for Hillary Clinton in northern New Hampshire, as well as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s run for Congress in Dutchess County. Steve was also influential in the Howard Dean campaign of 2004.

During the 2011 election, Steve was an aide to Queens-born Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages who ousted a 16-year incumbent. His expertise in ballot security operations came in handy when the Republican party handed lists of voters to poll workers at every poll site that were meant to be challenged.

“Republicans said that they sent mail to those names on the lists because that they didn’t  believe they lived in the district anymore,” said Behar.

Was it coincidence that every voter on the list was a person of color?  No one knows for sure.

I asked him, “That’s not normal procedure, is it Steve?” and he replied, “In Nassau County it is!”

For more information see GOP Thug Uses Nasty Intimidation Tactics In Nassau County Race.

Steve is not planning to run for office anytime soon. While his advocacy for good government is well known throughout national politics, Steve is a local voice with strong community roots in Bayside where he is also a member of Community Board 11, the place he calls home.

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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/steve-behar/


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