Sunday, August 20, 2006

NY Times Endorses Diamondstone. Also Endorses Jeffries–But Why?

The Times has endorsed Ken Diamondstone in the 25th Senate District and Hakeem Jeffries in the 57th Assembly District. The paper feels comfortable bucking the establishment with the none-too-loved Marty Connor, and , to nobody's surprise, endorses the candidate in the 57th–Hakeem Jeffries–who supports The Times' business partner Forest City Ratner in their effort to construct 16 towers and an arena, aka "Atlantic Yards."

Here are the endorsements:
Ken Diamondstone, a small developer in Brooklyn, deserves a lot of credit. He’s running against State Senator Marty Conner, a long-term incumbent who also happens to be a lawyer specializing in election law. Mr. Conner has long been the go-to man for politicians who want to get pesky challengers off the ballot. Naturally, Mr. Diamondstone faced weeks of challenges at the Board of Elections and in court.

The party establishment dislikes real elections, and prefers to bump competitors out of the race—either through their control over local boards of elections or with judges handpicked by those same party leaders. This year, one candidate was told the board mysteriously “lost” her petitions from voters. Another, Terence Park in Queens, had to go outside the county to find judges who agreed that a tiny mistake should not disqualify him.

With that dismal history in mind, these are our endorsements in some of the upcoming primary elections for state legislature:

State Senate District 25 (Williamsburg and Sunset Park in Brooklyn): Miraculously, a Brooklyn judge ruled that Mr. Diamondstone should be on the ballot, giving the district an actual race. He does not have a strong record of accomplishments, and Senator Connor is something of an Albany institution. But Albany needs change, not institutions. We recommend voting for Mr. Diamondstone to send a message that business as usual must stop.

Assembly District 57 (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn): Hakeem Jeffries, a bright and eloquent young lawyer, did such a good job of challenging outgoing Assemblyman Roger Green a few years ago that Mr. Green’s colleagues in Albany rearranged this district to carve out the Jeffries’ home. Now Mr. Green has moved on and Mr. Jeffries has moved into the district so that he could try again.

He is not the only good candidate in the running. Freddie Hamilton, who started Parents United to Rally for Gun Elimination, has had a real impact in this area. And Bill Batson, a former aide to State Senate Minority Leader David Paterson, has raised the level of debate about the Atlantic Yards development. But Mr. Jeffries has the makings of a political star in a place that needs his intelligence and his energy. We endorse Hakeem Jeffries.
It strikes us as VERY odd that the Times chose NOT to identify which candidates support and which candidates oppose "Atlantic Yards" in the 57th District. It shows a lack of understanding of the central issue in the campaign for the paper not to focus on it and clarify where each candidate stands.

We don't begrudge the editorial board the right to choose its candidate, but it should be more forthright in its reasoning. And it doesn't give much reason to endorse or vote for Hakeem other than the hollow, unsubstantiated statement that "Mr. Jeffries has the makings of a political star."

Huh? Wha? How so? "Political star?" Sorry but we'd like to see a hard working community based activist/politician, not a "political star." And we don't need another lawyer in the dysfunctional legislature.

The endorsement tells us more about Batson and Hamilton than it does about its choice, Jeffries. But the paper does make a good point that Batson "has raised the level of debate about the Atlantic Yards development." Which is something that can't be said about this editorial board.

We also can't resist saying this: The Times' endorsement, though the paper clearly doesn't see it, further solidifies Jeffries as the pro-"Atlantic Yards" candidate and Batson as the anti-"Atlantic Yards" candidate.

Thank you NY Times (development/business partner of Forest City Ratner): To the majority of the District, which opposes "Atlantic Yards," your Jeffries endorsement is a Batson endorsement in the 57th Assembly District.


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