Most of the time, New York Democrats don't offer us voters any good choices. A simple, stark observation, but it has the virtue of being true. This state is governed with all the flexibility and legislative turnover you can find in beacons of enlightenment like, say, North Korea. The truly unfortunate thing about our legislators, however, is that they propagate, turning out Mini-Mes who labor under the same delusions of adequacy afflicting their parent generation.
One of these mini-Mes is on the ballot for Congress today right here in Brooklyn, in the re-drawn NY-7 district, running against Progressive all-star Nydia Velazquez. I'm talking about Erik Martin Dilan, a City Council member of at best limited competence and the son of State Senator Martin Dilan. Dilan père is inadequate even in the State Senate. In a chamber known for benchwarmers, his bench may be the warmest, and this not because of any weight of intellect; if that were more than a figure of speech, Dilan would be floating near the rafters.
But it's the spawn of his loins that's on the ballot, so here's what you need to know: Dilan Junior is best known for his involvement with the failing Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (his wife is that unfortunate entity's PR person). Things at Wyckoff - which is supposed to serve Bushwick, one of the poorest areas in the country - got so bad that it's CEO resigned in disgrace. Before resigning, however, he drew a $700,000 annual salary and had nice little perks like a personal Bentley. That former CEO, one Rajiv Garg, is now a fundraiser for Dilan Junior. In Vito Lopez's Brooklyn, with the right connections, you always land on your feet.
So why is this waste of skin even running? Easy: Congresswoman Velazquez has never played the game of the Vito Lopez machine. She actually fights for her community, and doesn't suck millions of dollars out of institutions meant to serve the needy. She's nurtured a new generation of talent in the same mold.
Last summer, she backed Jesus Gonzalez, a challenger on the Working Families line, in a race for an open Assembly seat that was also a proxy battle among the borough's competing factions, and she helped foster the movement against Lopez in its earliest days.
In January of 2010, she invited Lincoln Restler, who was then leading a reform club called the New Kings Democrats, to be her guest at the State of the Union.
"She supported a group of young people who are generally new to local politics and offered her expertise and credibility," said Restler, who generated an impressive amount of laudatory (and anti-Vito) press in a successful district-leader race later that year. "And that's been invaluable to our efforts."
Not coincidentally, Restler is also being targeted by Lopez this cycle. To run against Restler, who won by just 121 votes in 2010, Lopez recruited the well-known chairman of the local community board, Chris Olechowski, who will presumably be an attractive candidate in a district with a substantial Polish population.
So voters in NY-7 have a choice: they can vote for Nydia Velazquez, an excellent member of Congress - Facebook, Twitter - or vote to spread Vito Lopez's slop to the House of Representatives.
That's a pretty clear choice: Nydia Velazquez.