Scoopy’s, Week of July 31, 2014

Zephyr Teachout addressing the D.I.D. Executive Committee on Monday.  Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Zephyr Teachout addressing the D.I.D. Executive Committee on Monday. Photo by Lincoln Anderson

D.I.D. members blown away by Zephyr 

In May, the Downtown Independent Democrats voted “no endorsement at this time” for governor and lieutenant governor in the September Democratic primary.

The Working Families Party was endorsing the next day, and D.I.D. was curious to see how that would turn out.

Andrew Cuomo went on to win the W.F.P. nod over Zephyr Teachout, who then quickly decided to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary.

Taking up unfinished business, then, D.I.D. members convened this Monday night at club president Jeanne Wilcke’s Bleecker St. loft apartment to hear a brief presentation by Teachout, and reconsider if they would endorse.

The meeting didn’t include the full D.I.D. membership, since some members are out of town now, but rather was just the club’s Executive Committee.

Teachout — a first-time candidate and Fordham Law School professor, has been embraced by Downtown progressive clubs, having won the support of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Village Independent Democrats and Coalition for a District Alternative.

The week before, The New York Times published a bombshell Page 1 article, reporting that Governor Cuomo had hobbled his own now-defunct Moreland Commission from probing groups with ties to him or issues that might reflect poorly on him.

Teachout has made fighting corruption a key campaign plank. After the Times article, she called on Cuomo to resign if it’s true that a top aide of his influenced the direction of the allegedly independent panel.

On Monday, she said Cuomo is “under a dark cloud” right now, though she’s not ready yet to call what happened illegal.

“I think we are at a really crucial point in our history,” Teachout said. 

Saying Cuomo has failed on his promise to clean up Albany, she said, “We are more beholden than ever to the oligarchs who say who gets tax breaks.”

New York State has the most segregated schools in the nation, plus “a governor who will not answer if we will have fracking,” she added.

She said she wants to help small businesses and prevent everything from becoming a “CVS, Duane Reade or Bank of America, where every street looks the same.”

New York must increase its renewable energy, she continued, saying, “We have all the sun and wind and water we need.”

She admitted she’s an underdog. However, she said, “I am running to be governor, and I want to be governor.

Asking Teachout about campaign finance reform, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar noted that a dissenting Supreme Court justice in the Citizens United case had cited Teachout.

“We are one justice away from overturning Citizens United,” Teachout responded, beaming a smile.

Pete Gleason, a former City Council candidate, asked about “local corruption,” specifically, the William Rapfogel case, in which embezzled funds were found in the former Met Council president’s residences, which he shares with his wife, Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Rapfogel last week was sentenced to three and a half to 10 years in jail.

“How does $450,000 wind up in the closet of [Silver’s] chief of staff, and the guy falls on his sword, and it goes away?” Gleason asked.

In response, Teachout recalled how railroad barons and industrialists once ran the country, noting that unions, among other things, weakened their power. 

The D.I.D. members then reconvened at Von lounge, across the street, to discuss if they would endorse. 

“Overwhelmingly, the committee voted to recommend that D.I.D. members, at the next full membership meeting, endorse Zephyr Teachout for governor and her running mate, Timothy Wu, for lieutenant governor,” Wilcke later reported. “The general membership will decide the final endorsement in late August.”

Wilcke said club members were troubled by the now-defunct “secret M.O.U.” agreement hashed out between Governor Cuomo, the Hudson River Park Trust and the St. John’s Center owners to transfer $100 million of development rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s site. Hydrofracking, plus the governor’s disbanding of the Moreland Commission, have been other issues of concern, she said.

“Things didn’t seem right,” Wilcke said of the anti-corruption panel’s being canned. “Hydrofracking — we’re not sure what game is being played here.”

Gleason quipped, “The only thing pure in New York is our drinking water.”

— BY Lincoln Anderson


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