The primary elections have come and gone, but controversy dominates the borough’s politics. “Three of Brooklyn’s past four Democratic Part bosses have been indicted on charges of corruption-and if the recent news about current party boss Vito Lopez is any indication, he is likely to meet the same fate,” stated Lincoln Restler who was narrowly elected as the Democratic district leader for the 50th Assembly District after nearly a weeklong recount.
However, despite being the subject of two federal investigations, a city investigation, Assemblyman Lopez was re-elected as the Democratic Party chair in a Soviet-era 47-3 vote. In addition to the landslide vote, Lopez further strengthened his position of power by adding an additional 6 at-large district leader positions to be appointed by him. But rewarding allegiance from supporters with employment and benefits is nothing new to Lopez.
Boss Vito Lopez’s political machine, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, receives more than $100 million in federal, state, and city subsidies. A recent audit by the NYC Department of Investigation found that the alleged non-profit has fraudulently claimed to provide services that it has not. The report also pointed out that the Senior Citizens Council gave a 182% raise this year to its Executive Director Christine Fisher, who is also Lopez’s campaign treasurer. Her $659,591 a year salary, for only 17.5 hours a week of work, is nearly 6 times that of her peer non-profit leaders.
Vito’s girlfriend, Angela Battaglia, works as the alleged non-profits Housing Director. She received a 73% raise this year to $190,609.
Additionally, the DOI report stated that alleged non-profits board is comprised of several individuals that don’t speak English and were unaware that they had voted to approve the exorbitant salaries. Vito Lopez also bragged to the NY Daily News that the center closes down on election days to help him campaign and get out the vote for him.
Boss Vito will likely fill the six additional seats with extreme loyalists like Joe Lentol who fills one of the first five positions that Vito Lopez created. Joe Lentol, a loyalist who vouched for the character of Patrick “Patty Muscles” Romanello before Romanello plead guilty to participating in the murders of city councilman Richard Mazzeo and mobster Louis Tuzzio.
If the Brooklyn Democratic Party wants to be taken seriously at a time of massive change and development in the borough, it needs to cleanse itself of power-hungry individuals that personally profit from supplying services to the poor and elderly. Otherwise, the billion-dollar development deals should be more carefully analyzed. Nobody wants public money to fund criminals.
Thomas Tracy, Vito: It’s my party! Boss adds more hand-picked lackeys to Dem leadership, The Brooklyn Paper
Aaron Short, Vito’s charity shakeup!, The Brooklyn Paper
Aaron Short, Vito’s ‘Money Honeys’ get big salaries – subsidized by you, The Brooklyn Paper
Aaron Short, More Vito problems – two fed probes and more city scrutiny, The Brooklyn Paper
Errol Louis, Will Vito veto Brooklyn voters? Upstart challengers vs. the borough boss, NY Daily News
John Marzulli, B’KLYN POL GOES TO BAT FOR MOB SLAY SUSPECT, NY Daily News
Josepgh Goldstein, Vito Lopez Caught on tape browbeating Brooklyn grannies for votes, NY Post
Erin Durkin & Adam Lisberg, For a moment Vito Lopez reigns at Brooklyn rally, but his seat of power seems to be crumbling, NY Daily News