It's all smoke and mirrors


Jeff Klein’s Aug. 23 letter to Senate District 34 Democrats complaining that unnamed “people” are “tarnishing” his record as leader of the Independent Democratic Conference reminds us of the old story about the kid who kills his parents and then asks the court for mercy because he’s an orphan.

The facts show that Klein continues to misrepresent his past and should not be returned to the state senate.

We agree that he formed the IDC to gain political power as leader of a third path that supported the tiny GOP majority in 2011, and helped perpetuate it thereafter. But we cannot accept his explanation that it was to be more effective at passing progressive legislation.

If his concern was Democratic dysfunction, why abandon his party instead of reforming it? Why continue the power-sharing alliance with the chamber’s Republican majority after 2015, when majority leader Dean Skelos was convicted of federal corruption charges in a trial that included a tape on which Skelos said his reason for the coalition was to retain Republican control by keeping the IDC and the rest of the senate Democrats divided?

Klein does not deny that he received personal power and perks from his power-sharing agreement — extra pay and staff, a bigger office, a nice car, and more cash to spread around his district. He didn’t even have to do anything that would be transparent to the voters who elected him, like vote against proposed legislation.

He just had to help the Republicans keep progressive bills from coming to the floor for a vote.

Klein’s letter tellingly asserts only that he never blocked legislation that “has been introduced in the senate.”

Similarly, he rehashes a short list of decent legislation passed on his watch, but is silent about the many other bills which sailed through the Democratic-led Assembly, and which he claims to support, that he did not co-sponsor much less push for hearings and a vote. Laws that would reform our notoriously lax campaign finance laws and arcane voting laws, codifying Roe v. Wade, the Dream Act, and the New York Health Act, and equitably fund all public schools.

His heartwarming story about bringing the IDC back into the Democratic fold in order to fight “dysfunction” in Washington is contradicted by mainstream media analysis that Klein could not avoid Gov. Cuomo’s “political shotgun wedding.” Even then, Klein extracted a price from his fellow Democrats — he became the deputy to the Democratic leader, and the senate Democratic leadership agreed to endorse the Democratic incumbents, including the former IDC traitors.

History also tells us that Klein does not keep his political promises. Facing opposition in the 2014 primaries, the IDC agreed to govern with senate Democrats. But when Republicans kept the majority, the IDC remained aligned with them.

The IDC’s go-it-alone agenda is further exemplified by its recent defiance of a demand by the state’s top election enforcement officer to return $1.4 million of campaign funds raised by a so-called independent committee of the state’s Independence Party, after the state supreme court ruled the fundraising arrangement illegal.

Klein’s letter concludes by asking readers to “be there” for him because he “needs” our vote. Klein is right about one thing — the Sept. 13 primary is very important. We will be voting for Alessandra Biaggi, who asks not what we can do for her, but what she can do for us, Senate District 34, and all New Yorkers.

She has both the platform and endorsements, including The New York Times, to prove she’s the trustworthy Democrat in the race.

The author is writing on behalf of the following members of the Riverdale Huddle: Sue Ellen Dodell, Mihaela Ghiuzeli, Dale Wolff, Julie Marcus, Judith Minkoff-Grey, Annemarie Golden, Carol Radel and Ruth Mullen.

Ellen Chapnick,