The Democratic political establishment — both in the Bronx, and statewide — took a considerable hit last week when many of their candidates, including state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, lost bids to keep their jobs in Albany.
Right here in our community, assuming there will be no surprises in what should be an easy election in November, our representative in the state senate will have a new name: Alessandra Biaggi.
It’s an exciting time for sure, but there are still some question marks on what might be in store for us.
The biggest concern, of course, is what the 34th Senate District is going to do without the piles of cash Klein attracted each year. That money helped make our community better, especially through groups like the Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp., who hosted street parties as well as RiverFest at the College of Mount Saint Vincent — all while prominently thanking Klein with pictures of the senator on banners and posters.
Yet, if a lot of that money dries up, we can’t blame Biaggi or the voters who backed her. Since the dissolution of his Independent Democratic Conference, Klein stood to lose a significant amount of that money, since the Republicans his IDC helped keep in power were no longer throwing cash by way of Klein and his other conference members.
A new senator, however, means a new day. While it will take Biaggi some time to climb the ranks of the senate Democrats, there are hopes that many relations with the community — and those who represent that community — will be far better than what it’s been over the past number of years.
We are, of course, talking about the relationship our local state senator has had with his local newspaper.
It’s a little self-serving for us, but still important, because our job is to provide accountability, shining the light on what’s happening in our community on behalf of those who call this area home.
Over the years, Klein has had an acrimonious relationship with nearly every editor of The Riverdale Press, including our current one.
He has boycott the paper a few times, even going as far as starting his own “newspaper” filled with propaganda about his work as a senator, without ever making it clear where the money to publish it came from.
The most recent time he publicly cut off communication with The Press was in June 2015 when a story about campaign contributions angered him, telling the editor at the time to “go find another target.”
Before that, he stopped talking to the paper because he claimed The Press gave favorable coverage to his last primary opponent, former state attorney general Oliver Koppell.
And in 2013, he and other elected officials gave their local paper the cold shoulder after an investigative series uncovered a system where judges were given lucrative appointments to politicians and politically connected lawyers.
We don’t even have the room for the many baseless claims he made against editors over the years — from Shant Shahrigian to Michael Hinman — from outright theft to retaliation, all over coverage Klein did not like.
Journalists are human beings, thus are imperfect. But we take what we do very seriously. We work to provide a fair approach to all stories, verify and then verify again all our facts, and take into account that politicians are just as human as the rest of us. And when we get something wrong, we fix it — and acknowledge it — immediately.
With Alessandra Biaggi stepping in, we hope this senseless and one-sided battle will end. We work hard to share the positive stories, but we’re duty-bound to share the negative ones, too. There may be days a Sen. Biaggi might be happy with us, and others she’s angry with us.
We hope for more of the former than the latter. But no matter what, we pledge to be fair, and only ask that our elected representatives, in return, are fair to us.