Lady Boss Bichotte Extends Grip On Brooklyn Dems

Machiavelli, the Italian Renaissance writer and often misunderstood father of modern political science, must be smiling in his grave.

Edu Hermelyn
Rodneyse Bichotte
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte

That after Kings County Democratic Party Lady Boss Rodneyse Bichotte pulled off yet another in a string of backroom political coups – this time the sudden announcement last night of male Democratic District Leader for the 43rd Assembly district Geoffrey Davis resigning and quickly be replaced with yet another political ally – Edu Hermelyn.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Kings County Democrats County Executive Committee for nominating and voting me to be the District Leader for the 43rd Assembly District,” said Hermelyn in a Facebook post as he assumes the influential but non-paid title in a district that includes Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Garden and Northern Flatbush.

Neither Hermelyn, Bichotte nor Davis returned inquires for comment.

But Shirley Patterson, the female 43rd Assembly Democratic District leader and longtime civic and political leader, said she’s fine with Hermelyn as a replacement for Davis.

“The young man is from the district. He’s worked for two of the people in the district [former Assemblyman Clarence Norman and current Assemblywoman Diana Richardson]. I’ve known Edu for 20 years and he’s done a lot in the district. He’s been a coach and helped a lot of people,” said Patterson.

Patterson said Davis likely stepped down to devote more time to his successful nonprofit, the James E. Davis Stop Violence Foundation, which also has nonprofit space in the Bedford Brooklyn Armory redevelopment.

Assembly Member Diana Richardson
Jesse Hamilton

Whether Hermelyn is a solid Democratic Party Executive Committee pick, or as some progressives say, a usurping of Democracy because the appointment means Hermelyn will not have to run for the seat next month, the move could spell further trouble for incumbent Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush).

Richardson bucked Bichotte, who supported her in her assembly run, by backing Monique Waterman-Chandler over one of Bichotte’s top lieutenants, City Councilmember Farah Louis (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park, Midwood) in last year’s toughly fought special city council race.

Besides Bichotte, Richardson has made enemies with a number of electeds, including reportedly Assembly Speaker Cark Heastie (D-Bronx). Additionally, she is facing former state Sen. Jesse Hamilton in next month’s primary.

Hamilton lost a close election to State Sen. Zellnor Myrie two years ago, but carried the 43rd Assembly District. His loss came mainly because he was a member of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference. Many of the new whites to Brooklyn living in the progressive end of the larger senate district voted against Hamilton in droves because they felt he wasn’t ideologically pure enough as a Democrat.

But Hamilton has a long and distinguished public service record in Central Brooklyn and a sterling record of being there for both black and Jewish constituents in the district.

“I know Jesse from way back and I always thought he did good by the community and I don’t give up on him,” said Patterson. “If she [Richardson] had done what she was supposed to be done, there wouldn’t be a problem. I would support Jesse. A lot of people supported Jesse over the years.”

Brian Cunningham
Josue Pierre

The other candidate who has a reason for concern is the well-liked Brian Cunningham, a Jamaican-American, who ran and lost to City Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D-Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush) in 2017 and plans on running again next year.

The 40th Council district is smack in the middle between the 43rd Assembly District and the 42nd Assembly District, where Bichotte is both the female district leader and the assemblywoman.  Her male district leader counterpart is Josue (Josh) Pierre, another of her top lieutenants, and who is also running for the council seat.

Cunningham, along with a number of English-speaking Caribbeans that KCP has spoken with has expressed concerns that Bichotte is looking to form a political block made up of only Haitian-Americans that pledge allegiance to her with little regard to the hundreds of thousands of English-speaking Caribbeans that also call the neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie home.

“What’s happening here is a lot of people think she [Bichotte] wants to create a super Haitian district. That it’s not about electing diverse perspectives but becoming a game of one set of people with the same ideas, thoughts, perspectives and experiences,” said Cunningham.

Cunningham said it is his hope that Hermelyn’s appointment wasn’t just to set the table for Pierre. “He [Pierre] doesn’t need help in beating me if that’s what they’re worried about. Josh has won more elections than me. The voters will make an informed decision on who they will vote for in June 2021,” he said.

The changing of the district leader guard comes weeks after Pierre, on Bichotte’s orders, allegedly whited out the names on nominating petitions of judicial delegate candidates John Wasserman and Christina Das – the former and current president of the Brooklyn Young Democrats (BYD) – leaving them off the ballot.

Ironically, just several months before Bichotte, Pierre and Louis were fetting Wasserman and Das at a BYD party, leaving political pundits thinking with friends like Bichotte and her cronies, who needs enemies.

Either way, the list continues to grow of people who have long supported Bichotte and her followers but who find themselves on the outside looking in at the slightest indiscretion or if they feel they don’t need you anymore.

But Williamsburg/Greenpoint male Democratic District leader Nick Rizzo, who shrewdly guided  State Sen. Julia Salazar to her election victory two years ago over longtime incumbent Martin Dilan, said Bichotte’s heavy-handedness is strictly that of a garden-variety Brooklyn political boss.

“Each boss reacts away from the previous boss’s strategy. We get an aggressive boss followed by a conciliatory boss. So we had Clarence Norman, conciliatory; followed by Vito Lopez, aggressive; followed by Fank Seddio, conciliatory and now we have Rodneyse, who with some county committee moves, Christina and John, and now the district leader has shown she’s aggressive,” said Rizzo.

But Rizzo refuses to pass moral judgment.

“I’ve been in Brooklyn 12 years and studying bosses a lot longer than that. My main belief is it’s not a great idea to make too many moral judgments about them,” he said.

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