Brooklyn is a fun place to visit. I am particularIy fond of the vibe in Williamsburg, set by its growing independent music and arts scene. As in many neighborhoods with such a backdrop, it is attracting wealthy patrons and accompanying development.
It may be a fun place to visit, but I am not sure that I would want to live there right now.
September's primary in Williamsburg will feature a rogue's gallery of politicians who left their previous elected office due to sexual indiscretions. Williamsburg Democrats, which is by far the predominant political party in Williamsburg, will have the opportunity to vote for Anthony Wiener for Mayor, Eliot Spitzer for Comptroller and Vito Lopez for City Council.
For those of you who may have lived outside of the country for the past few years, Anthony Wiener resigned from Congress in 2011 after sending pictures of his genitals to women who were not his wife. Eliot Spitzer resigned as Governor in 2008 after getting caught transporting prostitutes across state lines. Vito Lopez resigned earlier this year after word got out of secret settlements due to his sexual harassment of his staffers.
I enjoy a good parade, but I am glad that I missed the Brooklyn Fourth of July Parade, which no doubt featured all of the year's office seekers. I don't know how I would have answered my daughter's questions.
Daughter: "Who's that guy, dad?"
Me: "That's Anthony Wiener. He's running for Mayor. He is known to effectively use social media to get his point out."
Daughter: "How about the bald guy?"
Me: "That's Eliot Spitzer. He's running for Comptroller. He has lots of experience with executing personal services contracts."
Daughter: "What about that creepy old guy?"
Me: "That's Vito Lopez. He's running for City Council. He is known for being a very hands-on manager."
I believe in second chances. I also believe in judging an elected official on his or her successes more than on personal failings. That said, the confluence of these three individuals on the same ballot must be very distasteful for the people of Williamsburg - especially the neighborhood's large population of ultra-conservative orthodox Jews.
Each of these three candidates can boast of successes. Lopez was known for bringing tax dollars to his district by the truckload. Spitzer was known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street." Weiner got elected despite having the name Weiner. I do not think their successes outweigh their personal (and in some cases legal) failings, especially in New York State.
The actions of their fellow party members in the State Assembly are not helping these three men. While the questionable treatment they have shown toward women in their personal lives is limited in scope, the Assembly majority, led by Lopez conspirator Shelly Silver, still refuse to act on any part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's ten point agenda to protect the rights of women. The State Senate voted on the plan point-by-point and approved nine of the measures, rejecting the platform plank promoting late term abortions.
Apparently Shelly Silver believes that without late term abortions, women do not want or deserve protection, because he has yet to call the Assembly back to Albany to act. Or maybe he is concerned that addressing women's issues will bring negative light to the campaigns of Weiner, Spitzer and especially his pal Lopez.
Whatever the reason, Silver's inaction is shameful.
Given the actions of these three men, their personal views on women is evident. Despite their efforts to change the conversation, it remains an issue in this election. Perhaps it is unfair to make the way these three view women an issue. Maybe their disdain goes beyond misogyny and instead can be attributed misanthropy. Their actions demonstrate an extreme selfishness and hostility to people to whom they profess to be emotionally close.
These men are so focused on their own quest for power they do not shy away from dragging their families into the negative spotlight again. The only people these men respect and value are themselves. If elected, it is clear what their priorities will be. Any laudable accomplishments that these men have, or will have, is a consequence of them feeding their own egos.
The people of Williamsburg must look longingly across the river to Roosevelt Island, wishing that they could vote in their primary instead. Or maybe not. That ballot features Weiner, Spitzer and New York State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who is running for City Council. Allegations of Kellner's sexual harassment of an Assembly staffer have recently come to light. How nice.
Rumors that Bill Clinton is seeking a residence in the Big Apple from which to launch a gubernatorial campaign are unfounded. At least for now.
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