Common Sense: Debating the debate

The Dyker Heights Civic Association has been around since 1928 and is one of Brooklyn’s oldest, continuously serving civic organizations. It is a charter member of the Bay Ridge Community Council and has an impressive list of countless accomplishments.  It played a pivotal role in creating the local zoning plan, successfully fought the Mega-Mall and the closing of the 13th Avenue Post Office,  participates in all sorts of charitable works, volunteers in community clean-ups and acts as a monthly forum on community issues.

And for the past 40 years, it has run a candidates’ debate that has enjoyed the participation of Democrats and Republicans alike. That was until this year when Congressional candidate Domenic Recchia not only ducked the debate, but issued an insulting denouncement of the group as the reasoning behind his failure to participate.

In reality, Recchia was at a pizza fundraiser on Staten Island. Other Democrats including candidates in the 49thand 46th  Assembly Districts  and 22nd Senatorial District showed respect for the organization and the Dyker Heights community by participating.  Democratic Councilmember Vincent Gentile was in the audience.

If Recchia had attended, he would have learned that a good part of the audience was there not so much to listen to the debates but rather to express their concern that Dyker Heights is being ruined by illegal property conversions.

Instead, Recchia learned nothing. The audience for its part did learn something about Recchia, who once again showed a fear of sharing a platform with Grimm. The congressmember ended up using his time, as well as Recchia’s, to field many audience questions  on issues ranging from the illegal conversions to Ebola, immigration, Obamacare, taxes, and on and on.

There were two additional debates that evening. The 46th A.D. debate between Democrat Alec Brook-Krasny  and Republican -Conservative Stamatis Lilikakis saw the most fireworks with Lilikakis clearly getting under Brook-Krasny’s skin.

It became so personal that at one point Brook-Krasny insinuated that he would vote for public financing of elections as a way to get back at Lilikakis who has aggressively argued that Brook-Krasny is a rubber stamp for Sheldon Silver. An independent good government group in a public report showed that Alec votes with Silver 100 percent of the time.

Alec was not making much sense in as much as he already votes for public financing and Lilikakis is mostly using his own funds to run, which is a federally protected right. For the next 20 minutes, Lilikakis hammered Alec’s record and Alec just became more and more annoyed.

State Senator Marty Golden (whom I serve as chief of staff) debated Democrat Jamie Kemmerer for the third time. Jamie, whose campaign is about the need to reform government, jousted a bit with the audience that was far more interested in answers on local concerns which he did not seem to know beyond generalities.

As far as Golden is concerned, I am obviously partisan, but I think the almost 100 people in the audience would agree Marty takes every issue straight on.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 4.  Please mark your calendar.


                In my past two columns, I discussed Proposal #1 and Proposal #2 that will appear on the back side of this year’s ballot.  There is a third proposal which authorizes new state bonded debt in the amount of $2 billion for school technology.

Whereas the first two proposals have a great deal of support, proposal number 3 gets a mixed review with as many critics as advocates. Clearly, the advocates are educational institutions and school districts which could access the funds for a variety of capital projects involving technology.

The detractors argue that to create $2 billion in state debt for the purchase of technology equipment that will be outdated long before the eight-year bond is repaid is not reasonable or practical.  New York presently has the second highest debt in the nation, which ironically the children the bond act is designed to aid will be paying back for decades to come.

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