Next week we want to make sure everyone on Grand Street is talking about our campaign for new Democratic leadership. We’re having a neighborhood outreach marathon on Wednesday, August 9 from 6pm to 9pm, and we want to meet every single Grand Street Democrat in one night. Will you join us?
We want all our neighbors to know what you know: that this hyper-local campaign for two Democratic District Leaders is our best chance to make local elected officials engage directly with Grand Street constituents on a regular basis. If we win on September 12, you and your neighbors can impact decisions made in City Hall, Albany, and Washington.
But without your help, your neighbors might not even know they have a choice this year. Please volunteer for this one evening – Wednesday, August 9 from 6pm to 9pm – to help the campaign.
Yesterday’s news of Sheldon Silver’s appellate court reprieve is a tough reminder of Silver’s dark legacy in our neighborhood. Consider that the Truman Club — Silver’s “base of operations” where he “appears to still be pulling strings” — still controls political endorsements, judgeships, and access to local officials. Or consider that the Truman Club’s Democratic District Leaders have never condemned Silver’s behavior.
We know that many Democrats on Grand Street are as appalled as we are by Silver’s history of corruption as a trusted elected official, and that’s why we are more determined than ever to campaign for new Democratic leadership on Grand Street.
As Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said, “Let us be clear, the facts are not in question. Mr. Silver used his position in government to direct state resources into a scheme that paid out $4 million into his pocket.” Not even Silver’s lawyers disputed the basic outline of the charges against him during trial, they just called it “business as usual.”
We believe what Silver did was wrong, and that he will be convicted again when federal prosecutors retry the case. His conviction was overturned not on the evidence, but on a technicality (the exact wording of instructions to the jury, based on a Supreme Court decision seven months after his trial ended). As former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “The evidence was strong. The Supreme Court changed the law. I expect Sheldon Silver to be retried and re-convicted.”
Personally, we wish no hardship on Sheldon Silver. We’re his neighbors too, and are glad for his family at their good news yesterday. But his legacy haunts Grand Street. It’s time to turn the page on Silver and his political allies in the Truman Club.
Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman are running for Democratic District Leaders against Silver’s political allies on Grand Street
More than 1,200 Democrats signed petitions over the past four weeks to put two new progressive candidates on the ballot for Democratic District Leaders on the Lower East Side. This represents the first real challenge to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s political club following his conviction on federal fraud, extortion, and money laundering charges.
Caroline Laskow, a documentary filmmaker and author (she co-wrote The Soup Club Cookbook with three neighbors), has lived in Seward Park Cooperative since 2003 with her husband and two children who attend public school. Lee Berman, a lifelong East River Cooperative resident, has been an active public school parent in the district, serves on the board at East River, and was recently appointed to Community Board 3.
They are challenging the incumbent District Leaders, Karen Blatt and Jacob Goldman, who are the candidates of the Truman Democratic Club, “a longtime base of support for Mr. [Sheldon] Silver” (WSJ, 4/12/16 link). The Daily News says that even after his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2015, “Disgraced former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver appears to still be pulling strings” (link).
Said Laskow, “We want our elected officials to hear our community’s concerns about traffic on Grand Street, overcrowded schools, and excessive development. The Truman Club has done nothing to organize Democrats on Grand Street despite the many challenges facing our neighborhood.”
The candidates also won’t shy from national party issues. “Ours is a strong Democratic district,” said Berman. “We should be joining with other Democrats to engage in meaningful action against Trump’s radical policies. The Truman Club didn’t even hang up a Hillary poster in its window last year. It’s time for new, progressive leadership on Grand Street.”
Laskow and Berman also lead a full slate of challengers for the Democratic County Committee in Assembly District 65 Part A. Last year the Truman Club’s County Committee members were criticized for selecting a candidate to succeed Silver based on that person’s long, friendly ties to Silver; when Democratic voters weighed in a few months later, the Truman Club candidate came in fourth in a six-way primary.
After this year’s election on September 12, these new County Committee candidates, along with Laskow and Berman, plan to form a new Democratic club called Grand Street Democrats in order to further reduce the influence of Silver’s Truman Club on local politics.
For more information, please contact:
Jeremy Sherber, campaign manager, Grand Street Democrats
firstname.lastname@example.org | 917-543-3918 | grandstreetdems.nyc | @grandstreetdems
This summer, Caroline and Lee want to meet every single voter they can before September 12 — and they’d like to do that with you. Will you sign up below to walk with the candidates through your building for one or two evenings this summer?
Voter turnout in local elections is always very low. Caroline and Lee want to change that by encouraging Democrats one by one that this race is important in many ways.
Please sign up below with three dates when you are available, and the campaign will be in touch to settle on a schedule.
When Councilmember Margaret Chin called on Tommy Loeb last night at the mayor’s town hall she called him “The man with the pink sticker.” That’s because Tommy — a long-time resident of East River Coop — was there at Caroline and Lee’s request to ask the Mayor for a traffic agent to be stationed at the intersection of Grand and Clinton to help alleviate the dangerous driving and incessant honking that comes from this access route to the Williamsburg Bridge.
This is what can happen when everyone works together — local elected officials who have already raised the issue with the Department of Transportation, almost 600 local residents who have signed a petition to close the Clinton Street approach to the bridge, and then one local resident to push the issue right to the mayor.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trachtenberg acknowledged there is a broader study underway to examine the entire traffic pattern from the FDR to the Williamsburg Bridge, which is absolutely necessary. But that sort of study and implementation can take years. It’s already been years since the traffic on Grand became intolerable. Caroline and Lee thought there was something that could be done right now, and asked Tommy to bring their request to the mayor.
Last night’s action was prompted by a question at the Town Hall by East River cooperator Tommy Loeb, representing Grand Street Democrats at the town hall. The Mayor, Steve Hellman from NYPD’s 7th Precinct, and DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg all agreed with Tommy’s suggestion.
The traffic issue at Grand & Clinton — resulting in grid lock all the way east on Grand Street, with cars honking and jockeying for position — has a been a problem for years. In 2012 the street patterns were changed to alleviate congestion on Delancey that had resulted in serious pedestrian accidents. Since then, Grand Street residents have been saying that Clinton Street was never designed to be a major approach to the Williamsburg Bridge, which is what it has become. With Essex Crossing construction, the problem has become more acute and is likely to get worse.
Pressure needs to be maintained on city officials and local representatives to make sure this problem finally gets solved.
Brian Lehrer of WNYC had a segment of his show Tuesday devoted to new candidates for public office … and Caroline was in the audience to tell Brian and his listeners why she’s running for Democratic District Leader.
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To get Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman elected to Democratic District Leaders in September election, first we need 500 registered Democrats to sign our Designating Petitions. That means we need an active volunteer corps to knock on doors and stand on street corners getting those signatures. This is one of the most important things you can do for the campaign! Please sign up for as many volunteer slots as you can, and encourage your friends to join you.