Tuesday, August 4, 2009

NAG Forum: My Name is MFS

The world has turned and left me here

Williamsburg- One week after Neighbors Allied for Good Growth's candidate's forum, and only one week until the next 33rd Debate (sponsored by Citizens Union, August 11), we take a look back at the major points of a racously quiet evening with some garage rock analysis. What's the difference between an analysis and a wrap? Analysis is what happens when I file something three days after the event happens. If you're looking for the tasty wraps from last week's 33rd District Candidate Forum, check them out here: with Ben Muessig's post, Talisa Chang from the Greenpoint Gazette, Courtney Gross and Dan Compitello at The Gotham Gazette, Reid Pillifant and PolitickerNY, Brooklyn Heights Blog, and, of course, my wrap at The Courier.
I've thought about this a lot and found some interesting parallels of what was said in the debate with many of the lyrics from Weezer's Blue Album and its cult-hit, Pinkerton. Maybe it's the nostalgia of having my 10-year high school reunion over the weekend (Rivers Cuomo did go to my high school). Maybe it's that Weezer's career after Pinkerton and life after school have both gone precipitously downhill. On to the audio tape!

I'm a lot like you so please/
Hello I'm here I'm waiting
I think I'd be good for you/
And you you'd be good for me
Let's get this out of the way up front. Council candidate Evan Thies is a Board Member of NAG. Forum moderator NAG Co-Chair Susan Albrecht contributed $100 back in June 2008 to the Thies campaign. The other NAG Co-Chair, Michael Freedman Schnapp, said that no candidates raised any objections with the Forum and how it was organized. Nevertheless, this was Evan's crowd: progressive-leaning North Brooklyn residents. Whether Evan's message got drowned out byDoug Biviano's calls for reform is another matter.
What's with these homies, dissing my girl/
Why do they gotta front
What did we ever do to these guys/
That made them so violent
To Jo Anne Simon's supporters: You are the target at this point. Other local publications have suggested that Simon is the frontrunner, though my hunch is that there are high numbers of undecided voters in this race and people are choosing between two or three of their favorite candidates. That means that Simon may get put on the defensive in these events, saying things like "Let me tell you what a democratic district leader does. She works with her community for her constituents. As a community person that is the way I’ve been able to work, because I have not been working for an elected official or pulling strings anywhere.” Being on the defensive does not distinguish candidates from a crowd in a positive way.

I'm going surfin cos I don't like your face/
I'm bailing out because I hate the race

Of rats that run round and round in the maze/
I'm going surfing, I'm going surfing!
Candidate Doug Biviano made the biggest waves during the debate Tuesday night, taking the lede in The Brooklyn Paper, for a newly aggressive tone. Biviano accused Steve Levin, Jo Anne Simon, and Evan Thies of working in a backroom as part of the Democratic machine, and cutting deals with the city. "It’s Democrats like this who make a big show of fighting for the people when their running for office, and then sell out our community as soon as they get elected.” said Biviano in a press release. Many in the crowd, amused by Biviano's performances at previous debates, were surprised by the sudden (other candidates would say negative) change in tone. Much of this is due to the recent hiring of Gary Tilzer and Morgan Pehme, as campaign consultants (the first of two significant points of the night). Both men were hanging out at the BOE, representing candidates such as Gerry Esposito, who is running against Councilmember Diana Reyna and Maritza Davila in the 34th District, Alan Sasson, who is running against Lew Fiddler in the 46th. Both have long been critics of the Kings County Democratic Party and its chair, Vito Lopez, and it appears they are advising The Biv to position himself as a reform-minded candidate. His challenge will be to convince voters that he is the only reform candidate in a race filled with candidates trying to do the exact same thing.

If you want to destroy my sweater/
Hold this thread as I walk away
Watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked/
Lying on the floor, I've come undone
To Steve Levin, who did not attend the NAG forum because of a scheduling conflict. He was helping run a state labor summit in Kingston, NY, where labor leaders did a lot of dishing about the 2010 gubernatorial race. Levin said he would be at the remaining three (!) debates, including the Citizens Union event next week, something NY1 is doing, and... um... I forget the other one. But, really? Eight! By the end of this thing, we will have eight debates in the 33rd and zero (!) in the 34th? Why is no one talking about this!
Back to Steve for a second. An all-around nice guy, Steve is in a tough spot. If he loses, Vito Lopez could blame him for the result, but Steve is easily the hardest working candidate in this race. If he wins, he's going to need to get one of those family plans for his cell phone. Maybe Verizon can offer an Albany-New York long-distance discount! (Updated: A couple of candidates' camps have emailed in, and yes, everyone is working hard at this stage of the campaign. Several candidates have knocked on over 2500 doors and may even reach 4000 by the end of the campaign. The candidates who knock on that many doors are among the favorites to win.)

Let's go away for a while/
You and I, to a strange and distant land
Where they speak no word of truth/
But we don't understand anyway
Isaac Abraham wishes he could take a holiday, along with many of the Hasids in South Williamsburg who are traveling to upstate retreats this week and next. Instead, Isaac must try to hang onto an increasingly restless UJCare coalition and dispell concerns about a campaign fundraiser who was implicated in the New Jersey corruption scandal. With less than six weeks to go in a campaign, you don't want to be answering questions about whether you're associated with rabbis who have been trafficking human organs.
"Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to maintain your balance, you have to keep moving," said Abraham.

And I don't wanna be an old man anymore/
It's been a year or two since I was out on the floor/
Shakin' booty making sweet love all the night/
It's time I got back to the good life
My favorite Weezer lyrics of all-time go to The Kens, who can be hard to distinguish, but at least the effort is there. Memo to the Kens, never start a sentence about transportation at a NAG event with some variation of "This one time I was on the L train..." You can do better.

Say it ain't so/ Your drug is a heartbreaker
Say it ain't so/ My love is a life taker
This is the other big observation of the night. Broadway Triangle Community Coalition members, particularly members of UJCare, the rival service organization to the UJO, may be softening their support for Evan Thies and giving Jo Anne Simon a serious look, after Thies resigned from Community Board 1 right before the Broadway Triangle vote. We'll know more on Wednesday, but Simon may have an opening to pick off some South Williamsburg voters unless Thies can make a good argument to them can win and what he can do for this community. As always, stay tuned.

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