January 6, 2011
The Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club: lasting connections to a Brooklyn power base have meant Atlantic Yards support
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder takes a look at the history of the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, a veritable factory for the minting of sleazy politicians, slimy political operatives and Atlantic Yards enthusiasts.
Within the amazingly (and disturbingly) detailed 1988 book, City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York, by Jack Newfield (R.I.P.) and Wayne Barrett, just let go by the Village Voice, is a highly unflattering portrayal of Meade Esposito, for 15 years the chair of the county Democratic Party until his resignation in 1984 (and his later conviction in an influence-peddling scandal).
Esposito's homebase was the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club in Canarsie, described in the book as "patronage-rich."
The AY connection
What's the Atlantic Yards connection? Well, the club remains one of the city's most powerful, and longstanding ties among those spawned by the club mean support for Atlantic Yards.
Specifically, Forest City Ratner Executive VP Bruce Bender, a former chief of staff to City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, comes out of the club, as Matthew Schuerman of the Observer pointed out 5/31/06.
And that's partly why politicians from southern Brooklyn, like Carl Kruger (under investigation, and a beneficiary of Ratner campaign cash), Marty Golden, Lew Fidler, Mike Nelson, and Alan Maisel, have been staunch supporters of Atlantic Yards, even though it's hardly a priority for their constituents.
And that's partly why the New York Times reported, 12/18/06, that it was unlikely that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, as a member of the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), would block Atlantic Yards:
“I’ve articulated my concerns to the speaker in writing, and beyond that, I think it would be counterproductive at this time to discuss the matter publicly,” said Mr. Jeffries, who said he was “confident” that Mr. Silver would take into account the views of the Brooklyn delegation.
That includes, however, a cluster of state lawmakers from south Brooklyn, who are almost unequivocal in their support of the project as it now stands. Forest City Ratner’s chief lobbyist, Bruce Bender, is close to those members; like many of them, he began his career in the area’s leading political organization, the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club.
NoLandGrab: Thomas Jefferson would surely be thrilled that his name has been appropriated by these paragons of democratic principles.
Posted by eric at January 6, 2011 10:23 AM