Guest Post: Doug Biviano Strikes Back

BHB Guest Post by Doug Biviano, Candidate for New York State Assembly

I love our Brownstone neighborhoods, the American system of democracy and our free press. Like you, I am outraged that our state leaders have hijacked our state government to use for their own self-interests, which include, above all, getting reelected. That is why I was saddened to read The Brooklyn Paper and Courier reporter Tom Tracy’s article about my campaign for State Assembly against 13-year-incumbent Joan Millman. Instead of reporting my reasons for running and addressing how the dysfunction and corruption in Albany is causing deep cuts in services and job losses–both public and private–Tracy turned the article into a cheap shot at me, designed to help the incumbent Millman get reelected. Why?

All of us hope that the media we depend upon to inform us is objective and independent. Journalists are often the sole source of information we rely upon in order for us to make the important decision as to whom to vote for. It is hard enough running for office with a corrupt election system that, among its many inequities, allows our state legislators to draw the lines of their own districts so they can stay in their seats forever, and collect tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from special interest lobbyists whose goal is to keep Albany from changing. Challengers like myself must run against a system that is rigged to give incumbents like Millman millions of dollars in member items and other government-funded programs to hand out to local community groups, so that these important groups are in turn pressured to support them for reelection out of fear of being denied future funding. It doesn’t matter that when I am elected to the Assembly, I will fund most of the same groups who do such a great job for our community. Most of our community groups are simply forced to play a game of percentages – with the odds heavily stacked against anyone who dares to challenge an incumbent.

Yet, the most difficult obstacle for challengers like myself to overcome are local reporters like Tom Tracy, who have an agenda and, as such, have abandoned their constitutionally protected role to inform the public. A primary reason why Tracy attacked me is because local papers like the one he writes for need our state legislators’ complicity to protect one of their most steady income streams. With the internet taking away regular business advertising, most local papers today depend on legal notices to survive, which our State legislators require our court system to print. In exchange for this lucrative advertising, newspapers are careful not to bite the hand that feeds them. Many state legislatures across the country have begun to eliminate this system of media manipulation by allowing legal notices to be posted on the internet for free, but, of course, New York’s is not one of them. Our state legislators don’t want to give up their hold on our print media.

What Tracy and his editors don’t want to admit to themselves is that the information deliberately left out of his article is directly related to the well-being of the readers of The Brooklyn Paper and Courier and their families. I told Tracy that I am running against incumbent Joan Millman’s record of silence in regard to the widespread corruption in Albany. In fact, Tracy ignored virtually everything I talked with about in our interview and instead used his article to attack me on the basis that I make a living as a building superintendent. Now, personally, I don’t see why this is cause for ridicule. I am proud of the fact that I work hard to support my wife and three children. In fact, I just built from scratch a 20-slot bike rack for the tenants, doing my part to help our City “go green” and maintain our infrastructure. Of course, Tracy neglected to note that I am also a civil and environmental engineer with a BS and ME from Cornell University, but I suppose that makes for a less amusing punch line.

Unlike Tom Tracy, my family takes seriously the problems posed to our community by Albany’s corruption and an election system designed to keep challengers like me from running. My family understands that I am running for the Assembly to protect them and all the other families in our community from a crumbling government which is quickly undermining our quality of life and endangering the future of our children.

Had Tracy bothered to print the substance of our interview, he would have explained the reason that convinced me to run. I told him just what I said when I declared my candidacy. “Every week, there’s another story about one of Millman’s colleagues in the Assembly or State Senate being arrested or under investigation for stealing millions of our taxpayer dollars. It’s no coincidence that this same State legislature has run up a $10 billion debt that they have no clue how to fix, except for borrowing billions more for our kids to repay and closing hospitals, token booths, senior centers, and schools. Well, unlike Joan Millman, when I see something, I say something. I won’t play that same cynical game up in Albany where politicians like Millman refuse to speak out against the corrupt system that is destroying our state, because it is that very same corrupt system that ensures they keep getting reelected.”

Tracy also left out what I consider even more outrageous than her silence on corruption. Joan Millman is Chairperson of the Election Law Committee. That’s right, chairperson of the very committee that purposely writes the arcane rules which result in dozens of challengers to incumbents being thrown off the ballot each election year. Put another way, Joan Millman literally chairs the sole committee that has the power to create the competitive elections that would require incumbents to be responsive to their neighborhoods. Yet, despite knowing these facts, Tracy has the audacity to flippantly absolve Millman of any and all accountability for Albany’s failures.

A few weeks ago, I issued a press release demanding “A New Standard in Albany” and challenged Joan Millman to finally speak out against her colleagues’ crimes. The Brooklyn Paper and Courier’s decision to ignore my release is in part responsible for Millman again having the opportunity to get away with saying nothing about what is wrong with Albany. Even more unfortunate is the fact that The Brooklyn Paper and Courier are so out of sync with the concerns of our community. There has been outpouring of impassioned responses to my call for new standards in Albany from residents across the district outraged at the dysfunction and corruption in Albany. It was the strength of this grassroots uprising that convinced me that after 13 years of Millman the people of Brooklyn’s 52nd AD were ready for change.

I’ve spoken to my neighbors and they understand that if we’re going to end the culture of corruption ruling Albany, our only chance is to start the movement right here in Brownstone Brooklyn—the home of many of the most passionate and politically astute people in the state. This election is about a whole lot more than just whether you like your elected official. It’s about preserving our neighborhoods, saving our essential services, and making sure businesses and jobs do not leave the city.

To get around reporters like Tracy, I am using social media and video to reach the voters of Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Waterfront, DUMBO, Fulton Ferry Landing, Gowanus, Wyckoff, Red Hook, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Vinegar Hill. I will also be knocking on thousands of doors and talking directly to voters like you both in person and through our neighborhoods’ great network of independent blogs.

The Democratic Primary for New York State Assembly is September 14th, 2010. To end a corrupt and dysfunctional Albany, everyone must get involved. Please visit my website (, join my Facebook page and help spread the word about my fight for reform.

Editor’s note: It is our policy at the Brooklyn Bugle Media publications, including Brooklyn Heights Blog, not to endorse candidates for public office. We are, however, pleased to allow such candidates space to express their views, as Doug Biviano does in the post above. The views expressed in this post are Mr. Biviano’s, and not necessarily ours. Should Mr. Biviano’s opponent wish to respond on our blog, we will be glad to allow her to do so.

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  • ashton

    Doug, two tips for you:
    1) don’t attack the press, that’s just dumb;
    2) present your ideas succinctly, nobody has the time or interest for long-winded expositions.

    -you’re welcome

  • Mr. Esplanade

    I don’t know much about Mr. Biviano yet, but I do know that our mainstream media has failed us. When the New York Times & Judith Miller concoct stories to support the Bush/Cheney regime’s endless war in Iraq, I know we’re in deep trouble!

  • Doug Biviano

    What you’re missing Mr. Ashton is that some newspapers are generally a problem for challengers and non-machine candidates.

    On balance these papers and reporters Tom Tracy protect the incumbents and the status quo, doing much more deliberate harm to challengers like myself and New York State’s economy than meets the eye…and I explain one of the reasons why.

    Btw, the press does not get you elected. It takes members of the community to engage and spread the word for change. This is the same type of approach I plan to embrace in office to break the dysfunction.

    In other words, don’t rely on the press for the change you want in Albany. Make it happen and they’ll have no choice but to report it.

  • Ben

    Doug Biviano is going to win big it will be a landslide victory. Joan Millman has become too comfortable here and she has a reputation for being lazy and ineffective, i.e. helecopter noise is just one quality of life issue that has been ignored by her disrtict office. GO DOUG!

  • matthew

    So, you’re upset that a newspaper wouldn’t print your press release and talking points?

    Gotta say, this post comes off pretty terrible and you certainly haven’t done your campaign any favors with it.

  • ashton

    Doug, there is an old saying “if you can’t take the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen”.
    You cannot expect every reporter to like you or support you. you should know by now that the press is not your friend. That is politics 101.
    Millman is a personable politican, I have seen her at public events now and then, she is funny, she is smart, she connects. If she is re-elected it may be for those reasons not due to the alleged corruption of some dinky newspaper.
    You can’t run on a record of being victimized.
    You have to explain what you would do, and frankly, what I gather is that you would be unwilling to make the cuts necessary to balance the state budget. That’s scary. I think that is a good topic for the next reporter to pick up on.

  • Heights mom

    I’ve worked very closely with Joan Millman on an issue I consider to be very important (the loss of the Little Room, the only special education preschool program in our area) and she was incredibly responsive as was her staff. I’d prefer that over action over the helicopter noise, which has received a ridiculous amount of attention from this blog and its supporters (sorry – it’s true). We need better schools in our area and a middle school too – and this will positively impact those who don’t have kids as well as those who do.

  • Jerry Fowler

    @ Matthew: I read the piece he’s referring to, and it definitely crossed a line of bias. An article covering a candidate’s announcement of candidacy has no business taking potshots at the candidate, that’s what editorials are for. It is refreshing to hear a candidate for political office call out an incumbent legislator for the awful state of our state, because the local print press certainly hasn’t done it enough.

    @ Heights mom: There’s no question that Assemblywoman Millman has delivered some strong programs for our district. As a parent I’ve been generally satisfied with her attention to education issues. But the problem is she’s been in office since the 1990’s and hasn’t received a single serious challenge during her tenure. Our state’s almost bankrupt, and I no longer trust that someone as entrenched in the dysfunctional Albany system as Millman is can make tough decisions on our behalf. I was hoping some new blood with new ways of looking at our state’s problems would step forward, and after being impressed with him last year I’m glad Biviano decided to launch this challenge.

  • bornhere

    I have to admit two things: I did vote for Biviano, and I don’t read The Brooklyn Paper, although I did take the time to read the piece in question by Tracy. But … it really seems that Tracy’s column is an opinion column, and as such, I’m not sure that his efforts should be expected to be wholly objective. I guess his piece could be considered slightly harsh, but I don’t see the problem: if Doug Biviano is successful in his efforts against Joan Milllman, he might have to accept the fact that he will likely be subjected to criticism and snark from lots of places, and that even “nonopinion pieces” have a position; that’s why, for instance, some prefer The Washington Post and some prefer The Washington Times. I also saw nothing in the Tracy piece that seemed that supportive of Millman, so when Biviano writes that it was “designed to help the incumbent Millman get reelected,” I have to admit that it does pique my whine-dar.

  • Confused

    Mr. Biviano – How can you be for reducing Albany’s debts but opposed to cuts in spending? You cite “closing hospitals, token booths, senior centers, and schools” but I thought that the “corruption” that you speak of is the insidious flow of union dollars to politicians who in turn keep the union coffers full by maintaining full union employment at the MTA, hospitals and schools.

    BTW – Your anger towards the BP’s article is well-placed. I imagined you to be Schneider from One Day at a Time rather than a Cornell engineer.

  • Mr. Eslplanade

    Since Millman has been in office since the ’90s, she is an incumbent whose been on board a sinking ship. What has she done to bail/bale us out?

  • AlbanyIsACesspool

    The Courier article wins the world championship for idiocy. Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Biviano!