KCDC Panel Discussion Delves Into Transparency & Reforms


Anxiety hung in the air during last night’s “KCDC (Kings County Democratic Committee) Transparency & Engagement Panel Discussion 2018,” held at the Clarendon Road Church 3304 Clarendon Road in East Flatbush.

The forum was the main event part of the regular Ernest Skinner Political Association (ESPA) Democratic Club monthly meeting. The club’s founder and namesake, Ernest Skinner, along with fellow founder/early member, City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, MIdwood) are among Brooklyn’s leaders of the county Democratic reform movement.

Panelist Howard Graubard, a political operative and unofficial Brooklyn Democratic Party Historian, opened the discussion calling former Brooklyn Democratic Party Boss “Meade” Esposito, the founding father of what is now the party operations.

Former City Councilman Lew Fidler explains how the rules work for the Brooklyn Democratic Party. Photo by Ernest Skinner

Esposito, a Brownsville native, though widely popular, used the art of seduction to weasel his way into the mind and hearts of his opponents only to than fulfill his own agendas in spite of any early agreements, said Graubard.

Graubard said that [Former Crown Heights Assemblyman]  Clarence Norman, the first  African American to hold county leadership, faced court-house scandal after scandal. He would allegedly give his inside circle a seat at the judicial table despite their lack of efforts to obtain the position, Graubard said.

Graubard said that Norman further denied committees the courtesy of choosing who they would like to see voted into each county. It was even suggested that Norman wouldn’t consider a candidate if they didn’t hire his political team to operate the campaign.

Norman’s successor [former Williamsburg/Bushwick Assemblyman] Vito Lopez had an obsessive desire to control, Graubard said, and implemented non district leaders into the committee  to ensure his continued succession as county speaker almost indefinitely. This didn’t allow any other constituents to be voted into position for many terms. As he asserted himself into leadership, he forced the hands of allies closed. Vito Lopez quickly lost popularity and soon found himself a shadow of new leadership.

Gaubard than accused current Brooklyn Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio of “hearing the words but missing the music.” He painted Seddio as an old fashion political strategist, but didn’t believe him to be directly responsible for last months voting controversy in which Seddio was re-elected as county chair through the strength of proxy votes.

Former Canarsie City Councilman Lew Fidler, the current chair of the KCDC Rules Committee explained how the voting was regulated within the organization and encouraged committee members to speak up regarding perceived underhanded election practices.

Fidler remained stern on the rules of electing members who are not only qualified for the position but who display a high moral and ethical compass. Playing by the rules eliminates vindictive chair holders such as Lopez and Norman, he said.

Skinner then introduced New Kings Democrats Vice President of Political Affairs Emily Hoffman as the only progressive voice on the panel.

A packed house attended the KCDC Transparency & Engagement Panel Discussion 2018. Photo by Ernest Skinner.

Hoffman spoke about the mailbox proxy forms received by many voters urging them to make hasty decisions in regard to policies and chair holders instead of practicing inclusion by way of personal commentary. She noted the ever-present male whom ultimately makes final decisions and disagrees with the lack of representation of the committee. 

Skinner concurred with Hoffman’s lack of diversity stance. He suggested that people such as Democratic District Leader Josue  Pierre make a way for themselves by speaking in their own voice and not just the voice of their mentors. Pierre responded by breaking down the heart of politics and what it takes to see change and shift perspectives.

Williams then floated into the meeting to pay respect to the panelists, members and spectators alike and announced his run for New York City Public Advocate. 

Newly elected Democratic District Leader Doug Schneider’s closing remarks were intense. He called for heavy proxy reformation. He also challenged his constituents to step up or step off. His suggestions of ways to be more proactive as committee members are to organize group activities such as letter writing in support or opposition of bills, and attending meetings instead of filling out proxy’s.

Schneider challenged lawmakers every step of the way to ensure that all checks and balances are handled effectively. He concluded his speech with a quote from Williams “Let’s all go out and make some trouble.”