County Boss Vito Lopez Faces Challenge in Brooklyn Heights Monday

Assembly Member Vito Lopez, leader of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic Party organization, stung by the defeat of his hand-picked candidates Hope Reichbach and Stephen Williamson for district leaderships in the 52nd Assembly District, as well as by the disclosure of the exorbitant salaries received by his campaign treasurer and his girlfriend as officers of a not-for-profit organization which has benefited from his “member items”, will face a new challenge Monday evening at 8:00 when the Kings County Democratic Committee meets at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street. According to a press release from the reform organization New Kings Democrats, they plan to introduce “three basic reforms” at Monday’s meeting:

The three reforms which NKD and its allies intend to bring to the floor for a vote are for the County Committee to meet quarterly, as opposed to its current biennial schedule; for County Committee Meetings to be open to the media; and for the activation of the body’s sub-committee responsible for boosting voter participation and enrollment in the Democratic Party.

“We think these are three very sensible, important reforms that every member of the County Committee can agree on,” said NKD President Matt Cowherd. “Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Democratic Party suffers from a reputation for shady backroom dealing, cronyism, and an utter lack of transparency. These reforms represent a small but significant step in restoring the faith of Brooklyn Democrats in their party, and to welcome new civic-minded borough residents into the fold.”

Cowherd cautioned, however, that despite the “no-brainer” quality of these proposals, their adoption at this meeting is not assured. ” At the last meeting of the Kings County Democratic Party two years ago,” he noted, “a district leader sympathetic to Lopez moved that the meeting be adjourned prior to any discussion of new business and the motion was hastily adopted without debate.”

Newly elected male district leader Chris Owens had this to say: “Reform will come to Brooklyn’s Democratic Party eventually…The longer Vito Lopez tries to keep the floodgates closed, the more powerful the tide of change will be when they burst.”

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  • x

    It’s not surprising to see corruption and fraud occur in the little-regulated local “charitable” organizations.

    Shame on the Kings County Democrats party.

  • XYZ

    If there is anything like coming back in the next life, I hope I will be a woman and then I know better what to do:

    “Christiana Fisher — the center’s director and Lopez’s campaign treasurer — pulled down $659,591 in “base compensation” over a 12-month period in 2008 and 2009 for working only 17.5 hours a week at Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, according to the filings.”

    Does anyone have a list of Lopes cronies? Otherwise I will just vote republican all across the board in November.

  • ujh

    In partial answer to XYZ: If you voted in last week’s Primary, you will have noticed that the candidates for Judicial Delegates and Alternate Delegates were listed in two groups in both columns. Reviewing the names in both groups in both columns, it seemed to me that one group in each column listed candidates who were supported by Lopes and Levin, the other groups listed candidates who had the support of Assemblywoman Millman.

  • x

    $659,000 for an unqualified person doing a meaningless job for 17.5 hours a week at best. What other scams are going on in our city/borough?

    All this scam/fraud is coming out from OUR city tax money, folks.

    Such fraud in our local government has to stop. Lopez and his cronies must go.

    I’m not usually into politics but this shouldn’t be happening in the United States of America.

  • x

    From the NYPost:
    “Assemblyman Vito Lopez claims he has nothing to do with the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a sprawling social-service cash cow that has received at least $304 million in taxpayer funds over five years and is under investigation for fraud.

    But Lopez’s ties to the organization he founded as a young social worker in the 1970s still run deep:

    * His girlfriend, Angela Battaglia, is the organization’s No. 2 official, making $329,910 a year. His campaign treasurer, Christiana Fisher, is its executive director and has a $659,591 salary for working only 17½ hours per week.

    * Lopez was personally paid $57,600 as a consultant in a single year by Ridgewood Bushwick.

    * Lopez’s Bushwick Democratic Club operates out of a grimy building on Wyckoff Avenue owned by one of Ridgewood Bushwick’s three dozen subsidiaries, which claims on tax forms to operate the building to provide “respite services” for senior citizens.

    * The thousands of constituents of Ridgewood Bushwick and its 2,000 employees form the core of Lopez’s political machine in north Brooklyn.

    * Former Ridgewood Bushwick employees, including Richard Velasquez and Pam Fisher, have become Brooklyn judges with Lopez’s support.

    * As an assemblyman, Lopez has steered at least $335,000 in member items to Ridgewood Bushwick since 2009.

    Read more: