BHB Exclusive: Doug Biviano Talks About His Campaign for the 52nd AD Seat

In advance of the Brooklyn Heights Blog’s presentation September 2 of one of the few public discussions on the 52nd Assembly District Race, an important political contest in New York City this year, we sat down with longtime Heights resident Doug Biviano to discuss his second attempt to capture the seat that outgoing Assembly Member Joan Millman has occupied for the past 17 years.

Mr. Biviano, who is both passionate and poised in describing why he’s running, defines his campaign as at odds with the various interests and power brokers that currently dominate Brooklyn politics, including the consulting firm BerlinRosen, Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio and Seddio’s longtime law partner Frank Carone, and the Working Families Party.

This is the first of a series of interviews with all three candidates — Biviano, Peter Sikora, Jo Anne Simon — on the ballot for the 52nd Assembly seat. Later this week BHB will coverage of this political contest that could have a substantial impact on the future of Long Island College Hospital (LICH), the proposed affordable housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, and the planned sale of the Brooklyn Heights Library and the subsequent development of the site as a high-rise residential tower.

My entire campaign—and this is what I’m telling all the voters I’m talking to—is about returning the power and respect of governing back to you, the voters.

Michael Randazzo, Brooklyn Heights Blog: What is it that you bring to the 52nd Assembly District Race:

Doug Biviano: I’m trying to bring the truth. Mark Twain once said: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” This applies to our local elected officials right now. My entire campaign—and this is what I’m telling all the voters I’m talking to—is about returning the power and respect of governing back to you, the voters. The fact is, right now our neighborhoods are controlled by special interests. The public does not want LICH to close, but the developers do. The public does not want the Brooklyn Heights and Pacific libraries to close, but the developers do. The public wants a park, but the developers want high-rise condos in it. These special interests have control of what’s going to happen to these institutions, and the public does not. It’s that simple….

The power [is] all top down, and it’s not even from our elected officials; it’s from special interests and political machines. So we need to break that structure, because it has ripped the power of governing from our community. We have no control of these institutions. BerlinRosen got de Blasio elected. [de Blasio and Jonathan Rosen] are friends, they live down the block [from each other].

The campaign deception at LICH [when Mr. de Blasio was arrested] was Peter Sikora’s idea, they [BerlinRosen] represent Peter Sikora as well…. My entire campaign is about putting this power back into the hands of the people of this district. My opponents are part of the political machines run by these special interests, like we just talked about: BerlinRosen, Brooklyn Boss [Frank] Seddio, there are connections that he supports JoAnne Simon. They’re dumping enormous sums of special interest and PAC money, which completely circumvents campaign finance laws – they’re not disclosed. [Editor’s note: this accusation has not been substantiated]

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  • miriamcb

    Thank you to BHB for putting together interviews of each of the candidates before the primary election.

  • Doug Biviano

    Until we get power of governing back to community with big issues hammering our neighborhoods (and that requires an independent candidate not backed by same special interests holding the hammer and controlling election system) legislative issues are not as helpful as the harm being done to our voters. The Assembly seat is quite powerful to stop this harm. That said here are a few legislative goals:

    1. Expose and Stop tax breaks, tax abatement for developers and public asset giveaways to them (developers will do fine without them and development will continue but will be harder to target public service institutions like hospitals, libraries, parks, etc). We do not have to subsidize because the affect is the tax payers take a double hit. We get overcrowded (schools, services) while at the same time our services get cut or can’t expand (schools, libraries, hospitals, parks) because our tax money goes to the developers. The tax breaks and abatement to developers also drives up rent at accelerated rates and pushes out good poor, middle class, and senior residents from our community. Affordable Housing as we know it is a band-aid on a cancer invented by politicians to make you think they are trying fix the problem. Homeless children are at record numbers under de Blasio. Ironically, the system the Pols have creacted has accelerated and amplified the problem of gentrification and uprooting folks. Voters tell me this all day. It’s time to reboot.

    2. I would have a big focus on election and campaign finance law reform to build walls between special interests, lobbyists, consultants, campaigns and elected officials to bring the balance of power back to the voter. We’re the only candidate to talk about this in real terms how bad Pols protect themselves while slaughtering our quality of life and our services. We did an op-ed in Brooklyn Paper in 2010:

    3. I’m a fairly progressive guy supporting Woman’s Equality Act among other good legislation. I would never endorse Joe Hyne’s like Jo Anne Simon did last year knowing he covered up domestic violence and child abuse cases. I’m happy to talk to anyone and I’m very accessible and will remain that way.

    I ask for your vote on Sept. 9 and to help spread my message. Thank you.

  • miriamcb

    Thank you for answering with some thoughts!

  • Michael D. D. White

    One thing regarding the Brooklyn Heights Library- Sometimes I would take issue with a question’s premise rather than simply answering it- I don’t think the “reality” actually involves a “fatal flaw” of “decrepit infrastructure.”

    I promise some scoops on this coming up.

  • bethman14

    Anyone who actually thought that BDB getting himself arrested at LICH was anything other than a PR stunt by a low-polling Mayoral campaign was deluded. Biviano isn’t breaking any ground on that one. DeBlasio never had any real, financially viable solution to the LICH issue, and clearly neither does Biviano. LICH was a poorly managed, underutilized facility that fell victim to the larger macroeconomic forces that shape the health care industry in the US. The Mayor of NYC was never going to be able to save it, and neither will a freshman member of the State Assembly.

    On the library its unfortunate that Biviano appears to have bought the Mike DD White fear mongering. I wonder if he even reached out to the BPL people to hear there side of the story or just acccepted the DD White BS without bothering to do any independent research or fact checking. We certainly don’t need anymore politicians in NYC who just follow along with special interests uncritically.

    I don’t see anything in this interview about concrete proposals for practical action on any issues that seem to concern Biviano….just paranoid conspiracy theories. Definitely not constructive leadership.

  • bethman14

    Thats right Mike….because when you are forced to confront the reality of the library situation instead of the imaginary “facts” that you “report” on your crazy blog it becomes obvious that you don’t have a leg to stand on.

    Its sad that your fear-mongering, truth twisting and demagoguery has made it so difficult for those of us in the community who really care about the library to have a constructive conversation about its future. Your strategy of pretending to care about libraries in order to advance your deeply conservative anti-development, anti-affordable housing political agenda is very smart and seems to work for you….unfortunately the biggest victim of your crusade will be our public library and the thousands of children and seniors who rely on it. So sad.

  • miriamcb

    Doug is fairly accessible – I’m pretty sure you can ask on the blog as I did (see above) about practical action, if you are actually interested. He’s likely to answer you.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    You know nothing about what happened to LICH so kindly refrain from spreading the lies that New York State used to murder that hospital.

  • davoyager

    Doug is absolutely right about the tax breaks given to developers. These are policies conceived during recession in order to encourage growth and create jobs. NY and Brooklyn specifically is growing out of all proportion and the current climate of over development is going to blow up soon so if anything government needs to implement policies to slow housing growth. Additionally since the city needs to make up some of the revenue shortfall, the taxes of small property owners continue to rise at an unsustainable rate which directly causes rents to rise and owners to sell.
    On Brooklyn Bridge Park I agree it doesn’t need additional residential high rises near Pier 6 but what it does need is a subway station at the foot of Atlantic Avenue. Any thoughts?

  • davoyager

    I would like to see the Pier 6 ferry dock to be an access hub gateway to a 12 month a year, 7 days a week Governor’s Island Park with a subway stop and additional parkland on 6 instead of the 2 unneeded luxury high rises currently planned.

  • ujh

    Mr. Biviano may be accessible for the time being and while he’s campaigning. If elected, he’ll spend the week in Albany like his colleagues in the Assembly and State Senate and commute home for the weekend to do more work and maybe to spare a few minutes for his family.
    Mr. Biviano has a habit of not answering questions and may believe that his unceasing litany of what’s wrong in politics and society is all he needs to successfully represent his constituents, who will comprise a lot more people in the 52nd Assembly District than those to whom he’s obviously pleasing, to judge from the comments on this blog. Making speeches is not enough; converting concepts and proposals into bills, finding co-sponsors and getting them enacted takes more than standing on a soapbox. Awareness of this struggle is not apparent in anything he’s been saying.
    I urge all who encounter him on the street to question him what he plans to do to “clean up Albany” and how he plans to go about it – while juggling a myriad of other matters he’ll have to attend to.