Biv Against the Machine

The Herd for the 33rd City Council District met last night, minus a couple of sheep, for a debate in Williamsburg.  The Brooklyn Paper’s Ben “The Other Guy” Muessig was on the scene and reports that our homegrown candidate, Doug Biviano was quite animated to say the least:

Brooklyn Paper: The vociferous upstart and Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano attacked front-running candidates Jo Anne Simon, Evan Thies, and Steve Levin — who was not even at the debate, his fourth such absence during the campaign — for being “machine politicians” who were complicit in the controversial 2005 rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint that has not resulted in long-promised parkland and affordable housing.

“They were there at the table with the city — they were cutting deals,” said Biviano, who went straight at his rivals in response to the first question. “They are part of the Democratic machine. They never stood up.

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  • Jesse

    I agree with Biv re Levin, but not so much on Thies and Simon. I’ll give Biv the benefit of the doubt, since this is his first outburst that I know of, but it makes me wonder if this guy is a loose cannon.

  • Jerry

    I think his point re: Thies and Simon was that both are active parts of the Brooklyn Democratic Party – Simon as a district leader, and Thies as Yassky’s chief of staff. And neither’s really done anything to stand up to Vito Lopez or, in Thies’ case, Yassky. I appreciated the fact that Biviano was willing to go after the “frontrunners,” because up to this point nobody had really done anything to distinguish themselves in this race. It was good to see the candidates off balance for a change.

  • Community Reactivist

    Interesting to get an accusation like that from a person who not only didn’t have a place at the table, but was not even in the room, or even the same zip code!

    Thies was Chief of Staff for Yassky. The Councilperson is The Decider, not the staff people. I bet they weigh in with their opinions, but they don’t determine the vote. Probably he was well-informed on the situation, but the outcome was not under his control or his responsibility. Levin is still on staff with Vito Lopez. This is a state position, but Lopez still did have some input — he promised aw the affordable housing before it was even built from what I’ve read, and wanted to use Brooklyn’s favorite tool — eminent domain. Did Levin have a hand in this? Who knows? And regarding Joanne Simon: she was the District Leader, so maybe she could see the table, but this isn’t the Leader’s job.

    It worries me that Simon says ”On occasion “ regarding commercializing parks – that does not bode well for Brooklyn Bridge Park’s future. Some amenities, a boutique hotel, sure, but more luxury condos, or even luxury rentals, are a bad investment and will only privatize what’s supposed to be a World Class Park. Squadron has a PIRC plan to deal with this Thies had a similar proposal published in the Daily News this spring. Even Bloomberg now wants a PIRC-like plan for the High Line – see today’s NY Post!! In addition, both of the Kens (Baer and Diamondstone) have long histories of working for a better park.

    These candidates have records, some longer than others, where Biviano has good intentions, energy, and — until Tuesday night – a large share of good will.

  • ts

    Biviano doesn’t have a shot. He will get smoked like a Boar’s Head.

  • Jerry Wechsler

    I have known Doug Biviano for years. He and his wife are people of great integrity. Doug is passionate, honest, committed to the ideals we want politicians to think of as their duty. Doug is uncorruptible – not out to feed at the trough of the public coffers. He will always call a spade a spade.

    TS – If you believe he doesn’t have a shot, it means you have reached a stage of absolute cynicism for which I cannot really fault you; all the more reason to vote for Biviano !

  • Real Reform Brooklyn

    The problem with Biviano is that he lacks a fundamental understanding of the distinctions between City, State and Federal government. For example, he suggested at last night’s St. Francis College debate that we should bring back the commuter tax. Nice idea but it will never happen. Even Vito (of whom I am no fan) has tried to make that lift each year since 9/11 with it never getting out of committee. Biv did not even seem to understand that it was a decision that rests with the State Legislature — let alone that Albany cannot get that or pretty much anything done. If course, I am glad to see that Pedro Espada’s son is now gainfully employed at the tune of $120,000 per year of our money.

    The list for Biv continues. He wants to stop spending money on the defense budget. He calls it a “Trillion Dollar War Tax.” I am not sure that it is such a good idea to stop fighting the Taliban as they try to make inroads into a nuclear Pakistan. But again, merits aside, the City Council does not control the national defense budget. Similarly, the City Council does not have the power to put us into single-payer health care.

    These are all certainly important issues. But Biviano throws around buzz words with no substance behind them. Is he a nice guy? Sure. Does he have a beautiful family? Absolutely. Should he be the next City Councilperson from the 33rd? Well, if we can’t take him seriously, just think what his fellow council members would do.

  • Flavio DiSantis

    Why are there never any viable republican candidates for in this district?????

    I’m not talking about bible thumping Jesus freaks from the heartland but normal, sensible costal republicans like Guiliani & CA’s Governator?

    Why? Why? Why?

  • Doug Biviano

    I call out Real Reform like I call out Thies on his fundemental misunderstanding of the economy and markets in that every failure of a proposal or deal that Thies/Yassky orchestrated (i.e. 2005 Greenpoint Rezoning during the Real Estate Bubble or Thies’ park incremental tax) relies on stable or booming markets, not falling ones with precipitous tax revenues.

    That said, ALL politics are local. We live in a democracy. We Petition Washington and Albany as citizens, as city leadership and every which way we can to exert pressure on failed policy that is detrimental to our city, neighborhoods, families and infrastructure. As City Leadership you identify what the problem is and you think outside the box, outside the status quo of “Real Reform.” You believe in what needs to be done and forge forward. And you say it over and over again until the pressure becomes too great to bear for the bought and sold politicians in Albany and Washington.

    You do this like all great movements and reform from eras before. But alas, Real Reform is a nay-sayer who thinks that it’s wonky minutia differences between machine candidates like Thies, Levin and Simon that will make a difference. Machine candidates like them never did and never will make a difference. They are the problem. And so are shills like Real Reform.

    I’ll end with this. It’s not in the “Purview” or charter of corporations, or the Constitution, to control Washington, Albany or City Hall with their relentless lobbying and campaign contributions. Yet they do. So leaders need to be savvy and reverse engineer the grip that these corrupt practices have because they are destroying us locally. And, btw, passage of the Kucinich Amendment would allow for municipalities to pass their own Single Payer Healthcare programs which are within the charter of NYC. Try reading it sometime. It will take great pressure to bring the Kucinich Amendment, which I plan to bring. That’s what leaders do when their people are in need. And you can count on me.

  • Real Reform Brooklyn

    Now even we are shills for the machine? We think not. The fact is, while you go on about Yassky and Thies mistiming the market and lost tax revenues in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg rezoning, you miss the point again. First, the rezoning build-out was never envisioned as happening overnight. The Environmental Impact Statement projected it to happen over 20-years. We are now in Year 3.

    Second, there is a disconnect between your claims about problems with the rezoning and lost tax revenues. The development of parks is occurring. The City just broke ground on a $40 million waterfront soccer field and parks building. It is also dropping $50 million into the McCarren Park Pool. The balance of Bushwick Inlet Park, the center piece of open space in the rezoning, is stalled by litigation as a power plant developer appeals dismissal of its application for permits. (The City has already moved to condemn that site and has over $50 million laid aside for it aquisition.) Another large chunk is hindered by the City is having trouble moving a company that employs over 400 people. And, a final parcel is locked in a dispute between the City and a private group that wants to build a museum to the U.S.S. Monitor. Aside from that, the MTA has refused to move off a parcel at the very northern tip of the district. None of this has anything to do with tax revenues.

    As for your views on the Kucinich Amendment. Noble as it may be, Real Reform also calls it like we see it. It will never happen.

    Real Reform Brooklyn

  • Doug Biviano

    And tax revenue will keep plummeting while you continue to spew all of your nice big numbers.

    But please, tell us who you are? Why hide? Come in to my office into the light of day any time to chat.

    Everyone knows where to find me — at my open to the public 89 Montague Street storefront office. I am completely transparent and accessible, and always will be. That’s the difference…you sneaky little backroom Thies’ Tease.

  • T.K. Small

    Sorry Doug, you’re not accessible. Five or six steps is a complete barrier to those who are mobility impaired.

    Real Reform Brooklyn: The constant use of the “we” is increasingly annoying. You (singular) have some good points, but I find your comments pompous and condescending.

  • Doug Biviano

    Dear T.K. and all those with disabilities,

    I apologize and take full blame. Do understand that it was all I could afford at the start of this campaign to get things going. Remember, I started this campaign from scratch in April without the big contribution “grease” of machine politics. It’s been all grassroots, family and friends (btw, with matching I have raised about $100,000 now after the fact so I’m extremely viable, ready to spend and the contributions from the community are rolling in because people in the community sense that I am a man of my word).

    I do have a ramp that I could borrow to provide access on an on need basis if you’d like to attend any open door series event (Healthcare Uncovered Wed. Aug. 19th at 7pm) or meet here. I will take time out of my campaign and assist to accommodate those who have special access needs. I will also meet you any where at any time if you prefer.

    Further, I promised at the 504 Club Endorsement to use my budget and discretionary funding to make sure that my City Council member office and bathroom will meet ADA requirements. To offset costs of perhaps another storefront for easy and noticeable access to engage the community, I will use the savings from my know-how of doing things for less to ensure those with disabilities have access to my office and a rest room. I’ll build the rest room myself if I have to and I can. My word is binding on this. ALL citizens will have access to my office when I’m a Council Member.

    Right now, I’m just trying to make a difference. Give me a chance by giving me a call. I’ll be there.

    Doug Biviano

  • Frown

    You’d have to be stupid to deny Biviano’s general premise that corporate control of government is BAAAAD.

    To counter this, voters should line up the candidates left to right on the basis of record and policy prescriptions and immediately eliminate anyone right of median.

    How could anyone alive in the last 30 years want more domination of local, regional, or national policy by business and corporate interests

  • Real Reform Brooklyn


    Thanks for the comments. You’re right about fighting the powers that be. Sorry about your issues with access and us.

    About us. We are, in fact, a few kindred spirits working together. We are going to try to keep the blog posting through Primary Day. Of course, August being what it is, it might get a little spotty over the next few weeks. Also, despite what Biv thinks, we are unaligned and will try to keep it that way.

    Thanks again,

    Real Reform Brooklyn

  • T.K. Small


    I understand that campaigns are a frenetic and rapidly evolving process. My statement as to your accessibility was really more of an attempt to influence office selection of the next City Councilmember from this area. So, while your policy is accepted and appreciated, it was not necessary.

    In terms of using a ramp to get into your office, that would not work. As a civil engineer, you probably know that there is a ratio between heighth/length for determining the ramp slope. The steps in front of your office are quite high, so a safe ramp might end up being more than 50 feet long. Clearly such a ramp would not be readily achievable.

    Perhaps next week we can meet for a few minutes when I get back from the Catskills. Incidentally, did you get my message when I called your office a few weeks ago?

  • Doug Biviano


    Thanks for your understanding about the pace of campaigns. And they most certainly evolve. I have learned a lot and, frankly, I got “schooled” through the 504 Endorsement and questionnaire process. The range and depth of access issues that I came away with was not only enlightening, they are permanently ingrained in my mind and policy ambitions.

    Of particular significance, is the notion that many of us can and will be driven from our homes and communities at the onset of a disability. I also learned this through my participation in the Interfaith on Homelessness Vigil how close we all are to these issues, i.e. one medical emergency, especially if you live in a walk-up! ( ).

    Therefore, we must ensure — as a society that claims to be the leader of the free world — increase stock of fully accessible affordable housing where citizens can live their entire lives in the communities they are rooted in.

    Yes, you are correct, the folding ramp, specially designed for portability, would be a temporary solution on the steep side (out of compliance). We used it at my building with my direct assistance as superintendent for access up our lobby stairs to the elevator for a senior who was hit by a truck on Montague Street and broke her leg.

    As for the phone message, I did not get it but will look into. I would love to meet with you next week and, honestly, would love to be there in the Catskills too! We used to vacation there when I was a child spending “Summer in the City” thanks to my grandmother.

    As for Real Reform Brooklyn…If you can’t put your name on your criticism it’s empty and meaningless. Try running for office with indisputable message of reform like myself by putting your neck out every day — to the point of calling for Vito Lopez to step down from Kings County Democratic Chair — and then I’ll consider you credible as a reformer. At the moment, you’re weak because you’re anonymous and more than likely a shill for Thies, so this is my last comment on you until you come out to the light of day.

    As for Vito with his operatives like Levin trying to consolidate power in this district so he can channel the funding to his cronies and special interests, I say NO WAY, not today, not ever. Vito epitomizes “Albany” backroom power politics as a NY State Assemblyman, grabbed even more power as Kings County Chair, controls other City Council districts with his protege — like Levin — and now is making a run at the 33rd. This is demagoguery of Hugo Chavez proportions. When is enough enough with Vito’s power hunger?

  • Real Reform Brooklyn


    We are in agreement about Levin. Look at our most recent post on Thies:

    Our readers, and there are many, don’t think what we have to say is empty and meaningless. We call ourselves Real Reform because every candidate running for the 33rd claims to be a reformer. Certainly, that can be the case with Levin. And, if Simon is a reformer, she has been ineffective during her time on the County Committee. She also lacks a record of using her legal skills to help her community during times of need. There are other issues that we will also be addressing. As for the rest of your colleagues, we question their ability to effect change — the touchstone by which reform is measured for us.

    You want the spotlight of being a politician, you can stick out your neck. Keep it up. We’ve got no interest in it. If this is your truly your last comment, then adieu, adieu…

    Keeping It Real

  • Saul

    Rrb as long as you have a address no one will take you seriously.

  • Real Reform Brooklyn


    That’s funny! I appreciate the sense of humor!!!


  • Saul

    Reality is funny sometimes. N00b.