Squeezing Out Sparks: Biviano Debates Millman

News Corp’s Community Newspaper Group (the Brooklyn Paper, Courier-Life) hosted a debate last week between the two candidates squaring off for the Democratic nomination in the 52nd NYS Assembly District.   Incumbent Joan Millman and challenger/ Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano discussed many local issues, but one topic appears to be gaining traction (operative word: “appears”).   The issue: Biviano’s accusation that Millman is “double dipping” from the public coffers – one paycheck for her service as a member of the NY Assembly and the other from her NYC teacher’s pension.

The Brooklyn Paper’s recap of the debate and video after the jump:

Assembly candidate Doug Biviano blasted away at incumbent Joan Millman in a debate last week, hammering her for taking her pension even as she works as a lawmaker, lambasting her for backing transit cuts, and for flip-flopping on housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park — but the harshest word he had for Millman was that she’s “nice.”

By our count, Biviano taunted his rival with the seemingly innocuous adjective six times during the hour-long debate in Community Newspaper Group’s Downtown studio, where the candidates in the Sept. 14 primary battled in hopes of attracting voters in the Brownstone Brooklyn assembly district.

Being repeatedly slammed as “nice” certainly didn’t faze Millman, who said she was more upset that Biviano called her a bum on his website.

“I don’t think ‘nice’ is a pejorative word,” she said. “I don’t mind being called nice because I am a nice person. But I’m also an effective person.”

Biviano certainly didn’t agree, slamming Millman (D-Carroll Gardens) on the issues — and for collecting her pension from her prior job as a city teacher while working as our elected representative in Albany. Biviano called that “double dipping.”

“I’m on the street and I talk to the people and they’re worried about their pensions,” Biviano said. “These people aren’t making six figures and on top of … another government pension. It’s an abuse of the pension system.”

Millman makes $92,000 as an Assemblywoman. She was elected to office in 1997 after she retired from her 27 years as a teacher and began collecting her pension.

“I had already put in my paperwork,” she said. “You can’t rescind it.”

The NY Post published a story by Courier Life writer Tom Tracy with the lastest in this saga:

The truth is that Millman could have deferred then -— and could still defer now. All she had to do was file a “Retirement Allowance Suspension/Resumption Form” with the Teachers Retirement System.

What Millman (D-Carroll Gardens) is doing is perfectly legal, but that hasn’t stopped her assembly challenger, Doug Biviano, from railing on her for more than a week since our debate aired on our website.

“Collecting of two government paychecks shows that Assemblywoman Millman is not only out of touch with the community, but cares more about her interests than those of the people she represents,” Biviano said. “She should be protecting the pension system and our over-burdened tax-payers, not abusing them.”

In the debate, Biviano likened Millman’s pension to Assemblymembers Rhoda Jacobs (D–Midwood) and Harvey Weisenberg (D–Long Island), Albany colleagues who collect their state legislator pensions while still serving in the job of state legislator. The loophole that allows them to do that has since been closed.

Millman’s camp has taken a flogging from Biviano since the debate, but Nelson turned it right back on the challenger.

“Doug believes she shouldn’t be allowed to retire, collect her pension — a pension funded by her money that she’s already deferred while she was a teacher in the public school system, mind you — and have a second career,” he said. “He’s sending a terrible message to senior citizens by telling them that once they retire they should just move to Florida because they’re not needed or welcome here anymore.”

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  • John Thomas Longo

    Minuta? Disclosing the source of one’s campaign contributions and expenditures is “minuta? That’s the kind of thinking that allowed Richard Nixon to amass cash to pay the Watergate burglars. If Biviano evades state law NOW, I hate to think what will he do should he be elected. If he wants the voters’ trust, he should have complied with the law. We don’t need Biviano as another Pedro Espada in Albany

  • John Thomas Longo

    Chutzpah … I just don’t know any other word for it. State Election law dodger Doug Biviano has sent out an urgent appeal for campaign dollars, saying that raising $4,000 “matters more than anything else right now.”

    That’s quite a statement to make when Biviano has failed to file the 32-day pre-primary campaign finance disclosure that was due back on August 13th. In other words, Biviano thinks it’s more important for you to give him money than it is for him to tell you where his contributions have come from and how he is spending the donations he’s collected.

    So, before you consider giving Biviano a dime, ask him why he’s failed to comply with the state election law. Ask him if he’s going to dodge the campaign finance disclosure filing due this Friday. And, should Biviano decide to finally comply with the law, ask him why he thought it was okay to evade state law while holding his hand out for more contributions.

  • John Thomas Longo

    It’s September 3, and today candidates are required to file an 11-day pre-primary campaign finance disclosure report. Will Biviano, who failed to file the required public disclosure due three weeks ago – the 32-day pre-primary report – once again evade the state election law? Check in at the state board of election link and see for yourself.


    Meanwhile, Biviano continues to send out urgent appeals for campaign cash, justifying his need for your donation by saying it “matters more than anything else right now.” Apparently it matters even more than complying with the state election law.

    Should Biviano decide to finally end his scofflaw status, he still owes voters an explanation for why he dodged the law for so long. What is he hiding anyway?