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 (www.bivforbrooklyn.com), 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.