Wow! What a pathetic display of power by Jeffrey Dinowitz. In his own club.
On Jan. 29, the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club held internal elections over the leadership and executive committee. Make no mistake, the election was a referendum on Jeff Dinowitz and how he runs the club.
While virtually all his chosen candidates won, he and the club are not used to hotly contested internal elections. Generally, it’s what Dinowitz wants, and members fall in line.
Jeff can feel proud he was able to beat back the voices calling for change, calling for real reform. At least that’s how he can spin it. The word “reform” is in the name of the club. The members who ran against the establishment slate want to reform the club, something that is necessary after a number of years.
I’m proud of Morgan Evers, Ellen Chapnick, Aaron Stayman, Dale Wolff, Daniel Ranells, Dan Padernacht, and the others showing the courage to say our club needs new voices, and more diversity in both people and the diversity of ideas. Especially progressive ideas.
The progressives had candidates like Jack Marth, who proudly cited his work to take out what he called “two fake Democrats,” referring to disgraced and convicted former state Sen. Pedro Espada and former state Sen. Jeff Klein, who had been accused of sexual harassment and assault. Unlike Dinowitz, Mr. Marth actively campaigned to rid us of these men.
Dinowitz and much of the club leadership endorsed and even campaigned for Klein, willing to help a fake Democrat stay in power, keeping the Republicans that Dinowitz and the club vilifies hold onto the state senate for several years, blocking bills Dinowitz now likes to tell us he’s proud to have passed.
As for Espada, Dinowitz waited until about two weeks before the primary to endorse then-candidate Gustavo Rivera against Espada. Dinowitz waited until it looked like Gustavo was likely to win before supporting him.
I know, because I was around actively campaigning for Gustavo and getting threatened by an Espada goon.
Mr. Marth showed courage and conviction working on the Rivera campaign, plus two campaigns against Klein — one for my former boss, Assemblyman Oliver Koppell, and later Alessandra Biaggi.
He’s not alone. Most, if not all, of the alternative slate worked on the campaign for Biaggi.
This is not a criticism of the establishment slate. I have known and gotten along well with many of the members, some going back 11 years. Congratulations to Helen Krim, whom I’ve worked with. I greatly admire her work on health care and immigration, among other causes.
It’s unfortunate the club has been put in the position to support a cowardly Assemblyman who goes which way our party’s political winds blow, determined to maintain his power and influence within the county and state Assembly establishment.
It’s not the club’s fault Jeff’s a hypocrite for deriding Espada for handing power over to the Republicans, but making excuses for Klein when he did worse, and for years. It’s not the club’s fault Jeff had two opportunities to support real Democrats against Klein, but he went against progressivism and the will of the people in this community.
He’s put the club in position to accept nepotism when he spent years critical of fellow Assemblyman Jose Rivera for getting his children in office to turn around and run his own son for office, even using our taxpayer-funded newsletters to promote his son.
It’s my hope that the club abandons what someone at the meeting said to me was the “incestuous nature” of the staff of elected officials being in control of the ballot boxes, with a member of Dinowitz’s staff standing over these boxes, and Jeff standing in front of the boxes right before people cast their votes.
“His tentacles are all over” as someone told me. I was there. I saw it.
Jeff isn’t used to being challenged, and doesn’t handle it well. While Jeff can claim victory, the fact that our political club had real contested elections for the first time in well over a decade shows Jeff has a lot of work to do in his own club to restore the confidence of a significant number of club members, and show us that he is open to the reforms and progressive changes he claims to support.
As I told several people, no matter the results, I would have a smile because elections are a good thing. I also told many people that night that no matter the results, Dinowitz would have a scowl. He claims to believe in the democratic process, but he doesn’t.
I hope our club becomes the reformers that we are supposed to be, committed to reforming the club and our own Democratic Party. Let’s not act like the Republicans in Washington, blinded by party loyalty, unable to see or deal with the problems in our camp — afraid to stand up to our “leaders.”
The author is challenging Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz in the 2020 Democratic primary.