Birthed in late 2014, Kings County Politics was my baby – delivered with the help of a few close friends – when my cash flow was skinny as a river drought.
Prior to starting KCP, I had taken a buyout from News Corp to write my second novel, The Street Singer, and to help cover my expenses, I worked for Our Time Press (OTP) in Bedford-Stuyvesant as a freelance editor/reporter/columnist. The publishers and my bosses there, David Greaves and Bernice Greene, remain like family to this day.
Around this time, two things happened that changed my life. The first was I briefly wrote a column for OTP called Kings County Politics, drawing on my institutional knowledge of covering every Brooklyn neighborhood since 2001. U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, whom I’d gotten to know over the years, one day offhandedly suggested that the column would make a great standalone blog and that stuck in my head.
The second thing was I befriended the Bed-Stuy Patch editor Zawadi Morris, who quit that gig to start the BK Reader, one of Brooklyn’s most important digital news sites. As it happened, Zawadi was set to take a holiday cruise with her husband, and she offered me a few hundred dollars to take over her site for a week. This taught me how to post stories online.
The Street Singer was published and to make a few extra bucks, I took to selling it, along with my first novel, American Moses, car-to-car on the subway. During this time, I was also applying for staff writing/reporter jobs, but nothing panned out.
At this point, I decided to stop applying for jobs and throw caution to the wind to start KCP. My very good amigos, Tsubasa Berg and Tom Russotti helped with the design and some start-up advertising.
In starting the site, I made two commitments to myself. Firstly, to call the political balls and strikes in a nonpartisan fashion as I saw them in all Brooklyn’s neighborhoods – Black, White, rich, poor, whatever. The other was, if given the opportunity, to mentor as many young working-class writers as I could to cover the neighborhoods where they worked and lived. Several of these writers went on to bigger and better reporting jobs and it has been my pleasure and honor to have helped them along on this path.
I write all this now with a tinge of sadness like as one whose child has gone off to college because I have sold KCP, along with sister sites, Queens County Politics and New York County Politics to Schneps Media and its owners Josh and Vicki Schneps. They own a large chain of print and digital publications, and as part of the deal, I will become their political editor-in-chief.
But within this grieving process comes my next chapter, which I believe is the essence of a well-lived life. Josh and Vicki are good people, and in joining their team, I’ve reconnected with some people I’ve worked with in the past and whom I like and respect.
Thus, I come into this new venture with positive energy and every reason to believe that I will play a role in helping this company succeed even more.
So forward I march. But you dear readers and advertisers will always have a place in my heart.
Adios. Fare thee well. May your journey be filled with love, song, and great adventure!