Your candidates for City Council in the 40th District - John Grant, Sylvia Kinard, Saundra Thomas and incumbent Mathieu Eugene - were all there and spoke in that order, interspersed with two others, starting with the passionate left-winger Randy Credico who actually managed to get on the ballot for mayor. To learn more, check out the awesome videos here. After his attack on the evil ONE PERCENT, it was ironic that a black republican candidate for comptroller, John Burnett, who hails from Wall Street, took the podium next to preach his conservative agenda. "I'm a proud Republican" he stated at the end. I wanted to raise my hand and ask if he'd been following the Republicans SINCE Lincoln freed the slaves and the racist Southern Democrats switched parties to become racist Southern Republicans, but I figured he's been too busy following the ups and downs of the financial markets to pay attention to the fact that the Repubs have been on the wrong side of nearly every moral issue for the last 100 years. But he was too busy questioning John Grant about his (Grant's) attack on the "sagging pants" epidemic among young men. Burnett said Grant needs to do his research about the origins of the sag, and he dropped the old inference that it comes from prison "bottoms" signaling their availability for gay prison sex. Speaking of doing your research, Burnett was dead wrong on that one. Think about it - how much "advertising" would you need to do in prison anyway? Gossip gets around pretty quick I suspect. Scopes.com pretty much debunked that homophobic myth, and though prison may have been an "inspiration," its the prevalence of the "sag" as fashion statement in rap videos that caused the sensation. Add in some moral outrage from the older generation, and you've got a full-blown fad along with tattoos and nose pierces and heavy metal. People - it's a SIGN, not a cause. Though I do love Eric Adams' video on the subject...
Next issue was...rent prices. Despite the fact that rent rate laws barely make a dent in the issue of affordability for most New Yorkers, candidate Sylvia Kinard used her time to voice her disdain for rising rents. But as with most politicians, she's only talking about the prices by the Rent Guidelines Board for stabilized apartments. As noted in my previous post, apartments are disappearing from stabilization all the time and in all sorts of ways. Not to mention that its hardly a fair system to those unlucky enough to live in a non-stabilized apartment. She's calling for a 0% increase next year and for years when the median income for the middle and lower classes doesn't budge, as it apparently hasn't for years. But I DID like that she's planning a protest/press event at the Q at Parkside station on Friday at noon about that very issue. Way to choose an excellent location, Sylvia! She's a smart lady, and if she were the only challenger, I'd certainly vote for her. Her heart isn't in it though...her campaign hasn't raised much, and she has no deep support from Flatbush. She may just end up splitting the vote, sending Eugene back to his throne. Sigh.
Saundra Thomas, the Q's choice for council, came next. She was more impassioned than I've heard her yet. (I'll be printing the answers she gave to my list of questions in the next day or two, to give you a better sense of what she's about). It's a shame she's just hitting her stride now, but better late than never. Her early support from popular former councilwoman Una Clarke never turned into the juggernaut I anticipated - even Una's daughter Yvette and my man Eric Adams endorsed the incumbent. I asked Eric about it last night and he just flashed a smile when I asked if his endorsement was made "publicly," because Eugene trumpets it all the time. Ah well. I guess it's just politics, since if Eugene wins, Eric gets to call him friend, and if he loses, Eric just befriends Saundra. Yuck. Nobody says what they mean anymore. Maybe they never did.
Then the incumbent, Mathieu Eugene took the mic. At times screaming at the audience, he made a loud and angry case for his reelection. His claim? In the past six years he has worked tirelessly on your behalf. He has been ahead of every issue. He has brought millions to the district. He is a great leader and a compassionate man, who (as he always reminds us) believes that all power on this earth comes from almighty God.
In a word, I wanted to puke. It's garbage, untrue (well, maybe the God part is true, I'm an agnostic so the jury's out on that one), and designed to deflect the very real fact that Mathieu Eugene has barely lifted a finger for you or for his district. He is never here; he never leads; he doesn't know the people of his district; he doesn't have a clue how City budgets work; ex-staff make fun of his vanity and ego; he holds occasional "forums," then retains nothing and doesn't follow through; ex-members of his staff joke of his vanity and ineptitude and claims of being a doctor; he claims to have brought millions to the district for things that the Council actually CUT in total from its overall budget; he takes credit for projects that were already in the pipeline - Kings Loewe's Theater for instance, and Parkside Playground and Parade Ground playground and affordable housing projects - he never leads; he constantly makes reference to an organization he started called Y.E.S. that helped young people through sports, but the organization folded as soon as he won office amid allegations by the City of shoddy bookkeeping; he voted against Bloomberg's extended term limits but won't rule out running again in 2017 making his potential term 14 effing years (read the City Charter - it's depressing but true, he could actually do it); he's so cheap he pays some of his staff less than minimum wage; he managed to find $20,000 for the Jewish Children's Museum which ISN'T EVEN IN HIS DISTRICT but precious little for popular project IN his district; he lavishes his tiny discretionary budget (other Council members so dislike him they make sure he doesn't get much dough) primarily on pet projects and churches (yes that's legal - read all his giving by putting the name Eugene in here). And the one that I find most sad and perplexing - he trumpets the 10 million dollars he's given to Kings County Hospital from his capital budget. Because "health" is his number one issue. But here's the thing. While buying millions of dollars of equipment for a hospital that has countless other potential funding sources, he hasn't spent that $10 million on projects that could truly benefit the community at large - his actual constituents, rather than the relatively few patients who need those machines. Machines that could have been procured through other means. Machines. To promote health. Because he's a doctor. And to win over the powerful hospital union that endorsed him. Cynical? You bet.
Imagine - community centers, public plazas, a new park, another revitalized park, new senior center, basketball courts, programs for troubled youth, and SCHOOLS. The only thing he's done for schools is to buy some computer equipment, including his much ballyhooed smart boards. Guess what? Few teachers even like or use those stupid smartboards. They're already ancient equipment in the digital realm, way overpriced, and recently I've seen them in classrooms with pieces of paper taped to them - that's how cutting edge and useful they are. The blackboard is still the visual aid of choice, and computer projectors are a zillionth of the price. But given Mathieu's inability to even maintain a website, I can't imagine that he understands or cares.
And after all the nonsense he spouted last night, we had to once again endure his "as a medical doctor" mumbo jumbo. And that's when I lost it I guess.
Folks, the man has never earned a license to practice medicine in the United States. He has lived here for decades. At any time, he could have become a doctor, or updated his credentials. For intents and purposes, he is as much a medical doctor as you or me (except those of you who ARE M.D.s, my apologies). Yes he went to medical school, in Mexico, if he's to be believed. But he has never worked as a doctor in Brooklyn or anywhere else in his naturalized country. Everyone must refer to him as Dr. Eugene, but it's hogwash and designed to make it seem like the man has some tiny bit of credentials to run on. I mean check out this ridiculous piece below on his having held a thing at Maimonides. The digital voice over doesn't even pronounce the name of the Medical Center correctly. And is this hospital in his district? Check out his extended praise service near the end of his speech as a "medical doctor."
So i guess I'd just had enough, and I walked up to the mic and asked "why do you continue to call yourself a medical doctor when you don't have an active medical license to practice anywhere?" He refused to answer, his supporters (including the organizer) started heckling me, and then, as any strong leader responding to a hardball question, he started to say that my blog has been spreading lies about him. I didn't take kindly, so I told him that was ridiculous and asked him to point out one thing I've written that's untrue. The organizer Vivia Morgan, a Eugene supporter herself, told me I needed to leave. Eugene called me "unprofessional" and said to the audience "this man is intent on destroying the community." At the end of his schpiel I went up to shake his hand and apologize if I was too harsh, and he withdrew his hand and gave me the "I'll smack you with the back of my hand" gesture. He looked REALLY mad, almost as mad as his brother who allegedly pushed a Thomas supporter who brought him the subpoena that said they were going to challenge his signatures, signatures that nine people came forward to say were in fact FORGED.
It's all true folks. That's what went down. I was in the hall talking to district leader Jessie Hamilton and Eugene continued to berate me. I asked why he refused to shake my hand, and then why rather than answer my question he decided to tell the audience how divisive I was and how I had lied about him and that my blog was nothing but an attempt to discredit him. And I'm unprofessional. As a what, exactly? A blogger? A constituent? The dude flew off the handle.
In the end, I rode home on my bike, annoyed with myself for losing my cool, and disheartened for the future of our neighborhood. Folks, the guy is a crank. He's inept at best and dangerous at worse. Please, go to the polls. I don't care who you vote for anymore. Just do what you can to throw the bum out.