Brooklyn Heights People: Doug Biviano

Doug Biviano

Ask State Assembly Candidate Doug Biviano about himself, and the first thing he’ll say is he’s a P.S. 8 parent who was born and raised in Brooklyn. Then, almost as if to prove it, he’ll ask the waitress at Heights Café to bring him a Brooklyn Brewery beer.

A Cornell grad, civil engineer, husband, and father of three, Biviano, 41, made a brief sojourn out to Colorado before settling down ten years ago in Brooklyn Heights. Now the superintendent at 169 Columbia Heights, Biviano, whose preppy good looks seem well-suited for a career in politics, recalled fondly his campaign for city council last year.

“It was exhausting, it was exhilarating, it was intense,” he said between sips of beer and bites of pizza. “The highs were really high, the lows were super low. Every mistake you make is amplified.”

Though he lost that primary race to Stephen Levin, who went on to win the general election, Biviano made a name for himself in the neighborhood, and even secured an endorsement from Rep. Dennis Kucinich. He’s hoping to capitalize on that reputation by running again for office, this time on the statewide level as he challenges the popular Assemblywoman Joan Millman for the Democratic nomination.

“The fix is in—they’ve perfected a system,” Biviano said, voicing the common complaint that 98 percent of incumbents seeking reelection return to Albany each election cycle. Not only does this “system” protect the incumbents, but in Biv’s view, it also hurts the people.

As an example, he pointed to a recent debate between himself and Millman, where Millman, who ascended to the Assembly in a 1997 special election, defended a colleague who had failed to disclose additional income he makes as an attorney.

“She should be defending us,” Biviano observed.

Biviano with "Millman"

Another glaring flaw in his adversary: Millman, a former educator, is not only “double-dipping” he claims by receiving both her teacher’s pension and a salary for her position in the Legislature.  He also believes she lied in the debate by claiming she could not defer the pension payments, when in fact she can.

“Instead of Joan Millman setting an example, setting the bar…she’s at the core of what’s wrong with Albany,” said Biviano.

He’s garnered some attention of late for releasing a video complaining about the lack of media attention given those challenging “the bums” in Albany, as Biviano likes to call them. In fact, he noted that the Brooklyn Heights Blog was the only outlet to approach him for an extended interview.

With negligence like that, Biviano argued, “How do they expect anybody to throw the bums out?”

Though he’s quick to drop the names of local pols done wrong (Millman, Pedro Espada, Jr, Sheldon Silver), Biviano admires relative newcomer Daniel Squadron, the State Senator who fought off longtime incumbent Marty Connor in the 2008 Democratic primary.

“How do you effect change? I think he’s struggling with that,” Biv said of Squadron. “He could potentially become a target because I think he truly wants to reform Albany. I’d like to work with him.”

In Biviano’s opinion, the biggest problems facing the 52nd Assembly District he hopes to represent are the economy; the MTA’s budget cuts; the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park; and the lack of middle school options in the region. He favors term limits for local politicians (“Eight to ten years seems reasonable,” he said), and is open to the idea of residential parking permits.

Biviano with Kucinich in 2009

On his website, Biviano lays out his plan to fix the MTA by refinancing its long-term debt and saving more than $700 million a year in interest. He also pledges to eliminate corruption in Albany by way of “active representation of the people,” and by forcing all elected New York State and New York City elected officials to fully disclose their income.

Admittedly apolitical prior to 9/11, Biviano was stirred to attention by what he realized was “a systematic failure of leadership we have in our governments.” He believes everybody needs a good dose of civics, and that getting involved in the political process can be empowering.

Having secured his spot on the primary ballot on September 14, Biviano promised he’d be a politician people could trust. “I am beholden to nobody,” he said. “I can go up there with complete independence.”

And this might be his last shot; Biviano has no plans to run for public office again. “Not if my wife has any say,” he added, leaving the door open, of course, as any good politician should.

Share this Story:

, , ,

  • Teddie Boy Eddie

    OK. Prove it.

  • Claude Scales

    We haven’t endorsed Biviano. Indeed, we make it our practice not to endorse candidates. We have given Biviano more coverage than other media, simply because we’re the Brooklyn Heights Blog, and he is a Brooklyn Heights resident. We’ve also given Ms. Millman plenty of coverage: see here, here, here and here. If we were shilling for Biviano, we’d be doing a lousy job of it; our straw poll of readers (as of a few minutes ago, when I last checked) shows Millman with 60% of the votes. So, if Biviano or Lopez were giving us money, they’d be wasting it. (I leave it to Homer to deny the money allegation, as I’m confident he can. My work is all on the editorial side.)

    Update: looking at the site again, I see we do have an ad for Biviano, for which I presume he paid us something. We probably should put “paid political ad” above or below it.

  • Homer Fink

    Thanks, Claude. Our coverage of Doug is based upon the fact primarily that he lives in Brooklyn Heights.

    Assemblymember Millman has agreed to talk to our Julie Kanfer and that profile will run next week.

    As far as advertising, it’s real simple to buy an ad on BHB and Millman or anyone else for that matter is welcome to do so. It helps us pay our hosting costs, some of our writers and keeps this neighborhood resource going.

    This thread is very interesting keep it going. and while you’re at it check out these links:

    Maybe the truth… is …out…there….

  • AEB

    @Not John Thomas (and where did last hear that name? Oh, yes, “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” read many moons ago): I have no navel.

    Luck of the draw, I’d say.

  • John Thomas Longo

    We have no idea how Biviano has been spending the money donated to him because as of this writing he’s failed to file two campaign finance disclosure statements. The first Biviano blew-off was the 32-day pre-primary disclosure. And now today the 11-day disclosure is due.

    But no reports from Biviano

    But Biviano continues to appeal for donations, saying it “matters more than anything else right now” while thumbing his nose at the state law and the voters he’s asking to put their trust in him. If he can’t take the time to comply with the law now, he doesn’t deserve our vote.

    It’s long past time for Biviano to explain to the voters why he has purposely evaded the law on campaign finances.

  • ujh

    The simplistic belief that a single, newly elected assembly person could successfully challenge “intrenched interests” and “clean up Albany” amazes me. This newly elected person would have to occupy the throne of an autocrat and ignore the legions of Assembly members and Senators with whom compromises must be made.

    Do you know the process of how bills are co-sponsored and how they get into a committee? Do you know that even in the City Council the Speaker determines which bills get debated?

  • WillowtownCop

    Am I the only Republican in Brooklyn Heights? Is there a club I can join where we cry in our beer?

  • T.K. Small

    Willow: Homer loves to point out that I am a Republican (although disgruntled). There is a club called the Brownstone Republican Club. Unfortunately, they were more conservative than my liking and I drifted away. You can find them at:

  • william

    Like anything else, change happens one step at a time. “slowly I turn, step by step”. No steps, no change. We need a big change in Albany, one step at a time.

  • Claude Scales

    William: by fortunate coincidence, one of my Facebook friends posted this today:

  • Publius (f/k/a Not JTL)

    Since John Thomas Longo is clearly an actual person I feel bad being Not John Thomas Longo, plus it’s not a very descriptive name, most of us are not John Thomas Longo. Since these are all political posts, I’ll go as Publius.

    @Claude Scales:

    – re, no endorsement: Although you don’t make any actual endorsements you do play favorites. Unless you really want to claim that your coverage of the Marty Connor/Daniel Squadron race was marked by dispassionate journalism. You guys were pulling for Sqaudron and we are all better off that you did. You should be proud. Also, it’s hard to claim you don’t play favorites if you entitle the post about Biviano running against Millman “Run Biv Run!”

    – re, no influence: Again you sell yourselves short. Biviano won your 2009 straw poll only to come in 8th in the actual election. Certainly some of the discrepency can be attributed to your positive reporting of his candidacy.

    I don’t actually think you are on Lopez’s payroll but am upset that you’ve ignored the Democratic State Committee race and Lopez’s attemptd power grab. It’s hard to have missed it since Lopez/Levin have managed to get their candidates posters in most of the storefronts on Henry Street and Montague Street. They even managed to get to Fascati before it closed for vacation.

    @AEB: I’m sorry you have no navel, that’s terrible although your survival in the womb is remarkable. And I am sorry to have accused you of navel gazing. I only included that line to ensure a response. I mean, you don’t want to wite a ridiculously long comment on one of your favorite websites and then be greeted with silence until someone posts trying to sell viagra two years from now.

  • william

    If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Daniel Squadron is part of the solution in Albany. Joan Millman isn’t.

  • Arch Stanton

    @ Publius (f/k/a Not JTL),
    Who cares if they are playing favorites, It’s just a blog?

  • Claude Scales

    “[J]ust a blog?” Arch, you’ve cut me to the quick.

  • Publius (f/k/a Not JTL)

    BHB is allowed to biased if it wants to be. In fact it can hold itself out to have the same journalistic standards as Sarah Palin’s facebook page if it wants. It was Claude Scales who said the page didn’t endorse candidates. No matter what position the BHB takes on its own bias, I would still point out the bias in the comments section and ask them to defend it.

    By the way, did anyone actually look at the details of Biv’s “plan” to save the MTA $700 million a year by refinancing its debt before reporting about it? He proposes getting a 0.5% loan from the Federal government and using it to refinance the MTA’s existing debt. The problem is that the federal government doesn’t actually offer loans at 0.5% to municipal governments or the MTA. So his plan reminds me a bit of Steve Martin’s old bit about how to be a millionaire and not pay any taxes: 1. Get a million dollars 2. Don’t pay taxes. And that’s before going into whether the MTA’s existing debt can be prepaid.

  • Claude Scales

    The “Run Biv Run!” post was Homer’s, not mine, but I’ll venture to say that his motive was to encourage a spirited campaign. Are we completely objective? Of course not; no one is. Homer and I are both Mets fans, which reveals a liking for underdogs. (I won’t go so far as Homer and root for West Ham simply because they finished at the bottom of the Premier League last season.)

    This, of course, ignores the substantive questions: who is more qualified and has a better plan for dealing with issues? We have views on these matters (Homer’s may be different than mine; I haven’t asked him) which we haven’t expressed in our posts. (At least, I haven’t–I’ve tried to be scrupulous about reporting candidates’ positions as theirs, not mine.) Where our bias does show is in giving exposure to those who may be underexposed by more establishment or broader-based media, and in encouraging competition in the electoral arena.

  • nabeguy

    Publius, why are you comparing a blog to journalism? That’s like comparing Fox news to sanity.

  • Homer Fink

    Claude is correct in his saying we do these things to encourage a “spirited campaign”. Every time a Democratic incumbent runs unchallenged democracy suffers. Say what you will about the quality of the challengers but if they’re crazy enough to run we’ll cover them — especially if they live in BROOKLYN HEIGHTS.

    We don’t endorse candidates “editorially” like newspapers do (although one newspaper publisher has counseled me to do so so), we let our readers endorse candidates. Ultimately it’s up to you the reader to make up your mind.

    That said, if your’e here criticizing whatever it is we’re doing, that means you care enough to say something. That’s a good thing — and you should continue to be a regular contributor to this site either by commenting or becoming one of our writers. That’s what this thing is all about.

  • Claude Scales

    Nabeguy: ouch!

  • davoyager

    Yeah, he’s mean.
    It’s more like comparing the local playground to Wall St.

  • nabeguy

    Claude, no offense intended. The sanity part of my equation was in reference to this blog, which is a far more (small d)emocratic platform than most “unbiased” news outlets. I cited Fox only because they’re one of the best at stating opinion as fact, but I could have just as easily said the NY Times. What makes this blog so valuable is that it is driven by multiple opinions that allow its posters to call out whatever bias they may detect. God bless the First Amendment.

  • Claude Scales

    Nabeguy: well put.

  • nabeguy

    @Not John Thomas Longo, navel gazing can be productive. The last time I engaged in it, I not only found a fair amount of lint, but a good deal of Millman’s initiatives.

  • BS Meter

    The last 2 years — have been the worst in New York State history for both ‘houses’ in Albany. Oddly, its actually been reported on… across each week, and in full view of all of us. So, this year — there is NO excuse. Yet? We still hold into to false-beliefs that “our” local pols aren’t part of the problem? What HAVE our local-elected’s actually DONE apart from scant talk of using the catch-phrase of ‘reform’ or ‘transparency’ to get heads nodding? Blame-games, buck-passing doesn’t change who hides behind powerful players in Albany — although its up to us and our media to point this out (and we don’t).

    When will be hold office-holders to higher standards?