Op Ed

Op-Ed: Mayor’s problems put LICH deal under renewed scrutiny, by George Fiala

Here’s what the Star-Revue naively wrote back in 2013, endorsing Bill de Blasio for mayor:

We like Bill for a couple of reasons.

Bill de Blasio has been a friend to the neighborhood of Red Hook, as well as all of Brooklyn as a whole. He is from the area, having represented the 39th District as City Councilman until his election as Public Advocate in 2009. His replacement, Brad Lander, is his friend and supporter, and that means much to us. During his tenure as Public Advocate, he has fought for our hospital as well as the entire Brooklyn healthcare system.
Bill represents the working class. His focus extends into the outer boroughs just as much as Manhattan. We believe as mayor, Bill will fight for middle and lower-class rights, and slow down an overdeveloped real estate market where other reasonable services are needed more than high dollar condos.”

We should have known better, but the Star-Revue only began publishing in 2010 and politics wasn’t quite my field before then. What I should have known is that he is a political operator – the opposite of an idealist whose main interest is in governing fairly and honest.

Bill and others out in front of LICH in 2013, rallying to prevent it's closure.
Bill and others out in front of LICH in 2013, rallying to prevent it’s closing.

In the late 1990s de Blasio worked for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was then a member of President Clinton’s cabinet. Cuomo headed HUD, and de Blasio was Cuomo’s NY/NJ Regional Director. In 2000, de Blasio headed the NYC operation for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 NY Senate race. His job was to make sure that Hillary received key support from the various ethnic communities. The NY Times wrote in 2013

“Never was he more instrumental, his colleagues say, than when he soothed the feelings of Jewish leaders after Mrs. Clinton kissed and embraced Suha Arafat, the wife of the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat. Indeed, Mr. de Blasio stayed in close contact with Assemblyman Dov Hikind, concerned that Jewish leaders might endorse her Republican opponent, former Representative Rick A. Lazio.

He went from operative to politician the next year, when he used many of the contacts he had made in the Clinton campaign to raise money for a successful City Council race for the seat now occupied by Brad Lander. He served two terms and then ran for Public Advocate, defeating Mark Green in a run-off. The Public Advocate was a position created in 1993 and has been effective thus far as either a stepping stone to a higher position, or a nice honor for an older public servant.

De Blasio entered a crowded field to run for mayor in 2013. His candidacy was kind of an afterthought until two things happened – Anthony Weiner imploded on the front pages of the tabloids due to lewd texting, and Bill de Blasio made headlines by having himself arrested. The arrest, made on behalf of the Nurses union and others trying to save Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital (LICH), finally put the hospital’s plight on the front pages as well.

The Star-Revue spent a lot of time covering the LICH story, and we thought of de Blasio as a godsend.

He became mayor, and with the power of the office… he did nothing. Instead, he is doing the antithesis, working behind the scenes with the real estate developer that stole LICH in order to further bamboozle Cobble Hill.

Then we read that he makes personal phone calls to real estate developers telling them how much money to donate to his own political action committee. These are real estate developers with business before the city – usually variances so they can build taller and denser and more profitably – at the expense of public space.

Then he has the nerve to write an op-ed extolling Jane Jacobs on the 100th anniversary of her birth. And how has he lived up to promise of her humanistic city? By installing wooden benches!

At a meeting in St. Ann’s church The Brooklyn Paper reports that fed up Brooklyn Heights residents are now calling the mayor’s affordable housing program a “Trojan Horse.” Yes – finally it’s in print.

We wouldn’t have put the following in print as little as two weeks ago – but emboldened by the growing smell of scandal, let’s say what we’ve thus far only heard whispered – that de Blasio was in on the whole plan to get rid of LICH from the beginning.

And here’s my wild conspiracy theory: Governor Andy told Bill he’ll help him become mayor – if Bill would help Andy become President. And so they hatched the whole LICH scenario together, using poor Carl McCall as the hatchet man. All of course, with the ending that the governor wanted: to show his fiscal prudency to the nation, as he closed unprofitable hospitals.

But then Bill was stupid enough to go up to Albany and demand a tax increase to pay for his pre-K idea. Governors raising taxes haven’t played well in recent presidential elections.

Andy couldn’t believe Bill could be such an ungrateful snot rag, and the rest – “the feud” – is history.


  1. John Kennedy Jr. · Died
    Jul 16, 1999
    After the ( accidental ? ) destruction of the Kennedy dynasty, deBlasio runs the NYC operations for the 2000Hillary Clinton NY
    senate coronation .

  2. Or maybe…
    Cuomo and de Blasio are puppets at the very top of their Political ladder.
    The Puppeteer has the $$$ and the media to crush their dreams of Higher Office/Oval.
    And he likes to use his $$$ and his media to crush aND HE JUS LOVES LUXURY CONDOS EVERYWHERE, ESPECIALLY ON A HILL OVERLOOKING nyc hARBOR.




  4. Or maybe the mayor actually had extremely limited powers to keep a state hospital open. Maybe he decided that he couldn’t win LICH without going openly to war with Cuomo, which would have doomed universal Pre-K for 50,000 kids a year, an entire new grade of public school. Nah, it must be a conspiracy. Truly, de Blasio just have *wanted* to close LICH. What’s particularly sad to me is that you are playing right into Cuomo’s agenda to blame de Blasio for LICH closing. De Blasio did a great campaign, helped enormously, but fell short against a determined Governor holding all the cards. I think that you and other activists who blame de Blasio are letting yourselves be played.

    • gbrook@pipeline.com

      It could be either way, but for the record, I’m not an activist – I publish a local paper and run a small mailing company. The article was clearly labeled opinion – or op-ed, and my theory clearly labeled a conspiracy theory. I do believe that the actual truth of what happened has not been told, but it may be some day. I’m looking forward to some more clues on Wednesday at the next meeting of the Cobble Hill Association, and you can yell at me there! Good luck with the strike. Best, George

  5. Josdava@aol.com

    Peter please open your eyes by try to justify the obvious Cuomo, Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio had one thing in common sell LICH to their friends is rotten egg that smell from Brooklyn to Albay