Some news, apparently, is fit to print, but not too boldly. Take, for example, the demure self-censorship on display Saturday in the New York Times’ eye-opening report, headlined “On Island, Largely Blue, an Exception: Trump Tower,” on the handful of New York City neighborhoods that voted for Mitt Romney over President Obama. Overall, the city voted Obama over Romney 81% to 18%.
The headline and the first five paragraphs were about the two isolated election precincts on the Upper East Side of Manhattan Island where Romney won half or more of the vote. It wasn’t until paragraph 7 to find out that the main news began to trickle out: that the “deepest single bloc of Republican support in all the five boroughs” was a four-square-block section of Gravesend, Brooklyn, “dotted with Sephardic temples and yeshivas.”
Finally, well into the jump, we learned that Romney “enjoyed strong support from a range of neighborhoods with large populations of Orthodox Jews.” Many precincts in Borough Park, Kew Gardens Hills and Sheepshead Bay (which is largely Russian, not Orthodox) voted 90% GOP. A note on the accompanying map gave you the money quote: “Mr. Obama’s worst precincts were in Orthodox Jewish areas like Ocean Parkway and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Kew Gardens Hills in Queens.”
The map shows the city’s 5,286 precincts as a sea of blue and red dots, shaded darker or lighter to indicate higher or lower percentages of partisan leaning. The darkest red voted over 80% for Romney, while pale pink gave him 50% to 65%. In addition to the broad swathes of dark red running down Brooklyn from Hasidic Borough Park down Sephardic Ocean Park to Russian Brighton Beach, there are dark red clusters in mostly Italian-American Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, and mostly Irish-American (and storm-ravaged) Breezy Point, Queens.
Mindy Meyer won plenty of attention for her splashy pink-themed campaign for a Brooklyn state Senate seat.
The young Orthodox law student dubbed the ‘Magenta Yenta’ did less well at the ballot box.
She was crushed by incumbent Democrat Kevin Parker by a 97%-to-3% margin. According to the Daily News, Meyer garnered just 2,553 votes in the Flatbush-based district compared to 86,697 for Parker.
Meyer burst onto the scene in the summer when politicos noticed her unusual campaign. Her website, pink and flashy, incorporated glitter and leopard print. Her slogan was: “I’m Senator and I know it.”
“I’m trying to appeal to the younger population,” explained Meyer.
Hurricane Sandy won’t last 40 days and 40 nights, but it still seems pretty Biblical to some.
Flooding has already been reported in parts of Manhattan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for the evacuation of residents in low-lying Zone A.
Despite power and heat set to be shut off in public housing complexes in the evacuation zone, some residents of the Jacob Riis Houses on the Lower East Side have ignored the evacuation orders, DNA Info reported.
The storm has sent emergency response workers and welfare agencies into overdrive. William E. Rapfogel, the CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, said in a e-mail to board members Monday morning that most residents had been evacuated from buildings in Seagate, Brooklyn.
“All our more than 4,000 home care clients (including Bronx JCC and UJC of East Side) have been accounted for, and service plans are in effect including home attendants sleeping at many of their homes,” Rapfogel wrote.
He added that extra food was being stockpiled at Jewish homes in case the bad weather lingers.
Floods are expected in coastal areas such as Coney Island and Brighton Beach, and Williamsburg, home to the Satmar Hasidic community, has some chance of flooding due to its proximity to the East River. The Crown Heights neighborhood, home to the Lubovitch Hasidic community, is much farther inland on higher ground.
New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver is under fire over what the local tabloids are calling a “coverup” of sex allegations against a Brooklyn political boss.
The Orthodox Jewish speaker of the State Assembly doesn’t usually get front-page play, despite being one of the two or three most powerful people in Albany. It’s likely he would rather been left out of this story, too.
Last Friday, Silver censured Assemblyman Vito Lopez over charges that he had sexually harassed two Assembly employees. Following reocmendations of the Assembly’s ethics committee, Silver removed Lopez from the chairmanships of two committees and barred him from employed interns or people under 21.
Lopez has since said that he will relinquish his role as Brooklyn Democratic leader.
But Lopez is not the only longtime politico bruised by the scandal. Following the Friday announcement, the New York Times reported that in June, Silver had authorized a $100,000 payment to settle an earlier set of harassment charges against Lopez.
Kevin Parker doesn’t have any catchy monikers like his pink-loving opponent, Mindy Meyer, in a race for state Senate in Brooklyn.
“She says she’s ‘senator and she knows it,’ but I actually am senator,” said Parker, an incumbent Democrat. “I really do have responsibilities.”
Meyer is now well known by her self-appointed name, Diva of the District. Although Parker has been in office for the past decade, he has yet to trend on social media. That doesn’t worry Parker, though.
“I have a proven track record,” says the state senator in a phone interview.
Parker has been exceedingly diplomatic when it comes to his young opponent’s recent media attention and her unusual campaign strategies, saying only: “I take all challenges seriously, because I take the democratic process seriously. I’m looking forward to debating her on the issues.”
He cautioned her, however, that “deep red doesn’t win in a deep blue district using deep pink,” referring to Meyer’s now famous glittery pink website, and the 21st district’s overwhelming Democratic population.
Mindy Meyer may be the Diva of the District, but the wannabe state senator from Brooklyn has a little homework to do if she hopes to make it big in politics.
The 22-year-old Brooklyn law student looked a bit like a deer in the headlights when a local TV anchor asked her to identify some key state power players in Albany.
Meyer didn’t recognize GOP Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and also whiffed when shown a picture of Democratic Assembly power broker Sheldon Silver.
However, Meyer recovered like a true politician from the ambush by Fox 5’s Rosanna Scotto.
“Honestly that I’m not so worried about,” she said after the pictures faded from the screen. “I heard of these names and I would learn the issues, and I would just focus on causing change for my constituents, unlike my opponent.”
Her opponent, incumbent Democratic State Senator Kevin Parker, also tried to take the high road.
“Every challenge is a credible challenge, this is the American democratic process,” he said. “I don’t know Ms. Meyer at all. She is rather young.”
Results were mixed last night for New York City congressional hopefuls who ran on their pro-Israel credentials.
In Brooklyn, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries trounced Councilman Charles Barron in a Democratic congressional primary where Barron’s harsh criticism of Israel was a major issue.
The results don’t add much clarity to the question of how Republican Bob Turner really won his Queens special election last September. Both the Meng and Jeffries races took place in districts that include portions of the heavily Jewish district that Turner won nine months ago.
Some claimed the shocking victory for Turner was a referendum against Obama’s Israel policy, while others suggested his Democratic opponent’s vote in support of gay marriage was more significant. The answer could help political hopefuls win support in the area’s large Orthodox and Russian-speaking Jewish communities.
Lancman apparently thought that hawkish talk on Israel won it for Turner. In the Queens race, Lancman talked a lot about Israel — so much that his opponents criticized him for it during a televised debate. Lancman’s resounding defeat could signal that his unremitting focus on the Jewish State during the campaign was a bit too much for Queens voters.
“Dear Jew: You are entering a dangerous place. Shield your eyes.”
That’s the Hebrew-language text on a huge billboard that an Orthodox group has paid to post alongside a Brooklyn highway.
The “dangerous place” is Manhattan. The danger isn’t specified, but it’s clear they’re not talking about muggings.
Presumably directed at ultra-Orthodox Jews traveling to Manhattan for work, the billboard puts a stark spin on the new study out yesterday from the UJA-Federation of New York, which raised the possibility of an impending Orthodox majority among New York Jews.
New York’s Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox Jews exist in separate, parallel worlds. In the broadest terms, each group has its own borough. Brooklyn Jews are poor, young, and religious. Manhattan Jews are rich, old, and more secular.
While Brooklyn’s Jewish community is exploding, Manhattan’s is shrinking. And judging in part by the highway billboard, the ascendant Brooklynites have little regard for the declining Manhattanites.
Hoping to preserve its massive growth, the ultra-Orthodox community has been on a war footing in recent months, striking back against web access in its homes and yeshivas by holding a massive anti-Internet rally and promulgating new bans against web use.
The billboard, which has been up for at least a few weeks, seems to signify the opening of a new front in the same war. The billboard was sponsored by an organization called the Congregation of Yad Moshe, which appears to have ties to New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
There’s no explanation on the stop sign red billboard, but the message is clear: Manhattan is unkosher. Stay in Brooklyn.
A new survey of New York’s Jews out today suggests the advent of a much more politically conservative Jewish community that could shift the balance of local New York politics.
The study, conducted by the UJA Federation of New York, knocks down old conceptions of what it means to be a New York Jew. The Jewish community is increasingly Orthodox and poor, with significant numbers of Russian-speaking members and decreasing levels of educational attainment.
“The Russians are not Democrats, and the Hasidim are not necessarily Democrats,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a conservative Democratic political strategist. “When somebody figures out how to put the Russians and the ultra-Orthodox together they’re going to come up with an atomic bomb in Democratic politics in New York State.”
The UJA survey was the largest of its kind ever conducted. As we reported earlier this morning, 32% of Jews in the five boroughs of New York City plus three suburban counties identify as Orthodox, up from 27% a decade ago.
Orthodox Jews are generally more political conservative, and are in greater need of social services than non-Orthodox Jews. Their numbers appear to be concentrated in Brooklyn, where the study found that 22% of Brooklynites are Jewish, up from 18% just ten years ago.
Three weeks ago, the Forward published a story about the dramatic increase in arrests of Orthodox men for child sexual abuse in Brooklyn. The figure that the Forward published — 89 men arrested and charged between October 2009 and October 2011 — was given to this newspaper during two separate conversations with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s spokesman Jerry Schmetterer in early November. When the Forward asked for written confirmation, Schmetterer responded by e-mail: “We are not prepared to discuss this at this time. Perhaps towards the end of November.”
Well, November has come and gone and District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office continues to avoid confirming the number or to answer related questions.
The Forward has requested the names of the 89 Orthodox men who were arrested and the crimes they were charged with. It has also asked the DA to explain the reason behind the startling rise in arrests.
During the previous two years — October 2007 to October 2009 — the DA arrested and charged 26 Orthodox men with sexual abuse. At the time, a D.A. spokesman said these arrests included “some cases” that involved adult victims. Prior to that, the frequency of arrests was much lower.
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