Is there a gag order on the smart but volatile City Council Candidate Kalman Yeger?
That’s the question after City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood) announced today that his Committee on Vacancies met and voted to designate Yeger as his replacement for the Democratic nomination for his 44th district city council seat.
Greenfield suddenly announced on Sunday he will step down from the city council to head the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council). As he was the only person to hand in Democratic Party petitions last week for the upcoming primary race, election law allows his controlled Committee on Vacancies to hand-pick his successor.
“I’ve known Kalman Yeger for 20 years. He is one of the smartest, hardest-working and most honest people I know. He has worked for Borough Presidents, Senators and Council Members. Kalman understands the struggles of regular people: he rents an apartment, rides the subway, pays yeshiva tuition and works hard for his family. He’s the best candidate to replace me in City Hall and I wholeheartedly endorse him,” said Greenfield in the release making the announcement.
Curiously absent from the press release that Greenfield sent out were any comments from Yeger. A source close to the Greenfield/Yeger team said that Yeger has a lot going on and will eventually reach out to the press, including KCP.
Yeger is a longtime political operative of a number of Democratic Party elected officials. In the last few years he has become a strong operative of Greenfield, and his wife, Jenny Berger, has a politically connected taxpayer job as the Jewish liaison to Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito. When KCP wrote a story shedding light on the job as well as Greenfield socking away more than $300,000, mostly from real estate interests, in a state political account under Yeger and his wife’s home account, Yeger stopped returning any of KCP’s calls or texts.
Sources said Yeger decided to stop communicating with KCP because it wrote about his wife’s taxpayer job in the story. Additionally, the thin-skinned candidate was reportedly upset that KCP broke the story that he wanted to challenge City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Homecrest), his first cousin through Deutsch’s wife.
Yeger actually filed to run against Deutsch, but that now appears off the table with Greenfield picking him as his replacement, but it will require Yeger to move into the district.
According to Greenfield’s release, Yeger is a graduate of Touro College and New York Law School, a lifelong resident of Midwood, and a member Community Board 14 for the last 17 years.
Greenfield also commented on the process of picking a replacement, pointing out that he received an unexpected call from leaders of the Met Council approximately two weeks ago and the law does not allow for a special election.
“The law requires that a candidate be chosen to replace me on the ballot in September, and creates a process by which to do so,” said Greenfield. “This the exact same process as every other ballot vacancy including Senate and Assembly vacancies.”
“The alternative: for me to ‘pretend’ to run for re-election and then pick a candidate through a back-room deal after the election would have been untenable to me. For those who don’t like the legally proscribed process, I recommend that they fight to change the law, not blame those who follow it,” he added.
Greenfield’s arch rival in the district, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, could not be reached for comment on Greenfield’s decision to pick Yeger, but he did Tweet, “It is time for those who genuinely wish to serve our community first, and not themselves, to come forward.”
Among those reportedly seeking to file petitions to run on another party line are Hikind’s son, Yoni, and there is talk in the community of drafting Democratic District Leader David Schwartz to run, but he told KCP yesterday there is no possibility of him running.