At a ground-breaking today for CUNY’s Fiterman Hall, which was destroyed in the World Trade Center attacks, Charles Barron got into a shouting match with CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, who was seated in the front row and objected to Mr. Barron’s charge that he had been disrespected by Mayor Bloomberg and Borough President Scott Stringer in both the seating assignments and the speaking order.
Mr. Barron called Mr. Wiesenfeld a “disgraceful racist”–not the first time Mr. Barron has leveled the charge, but also not the first time Mr. Wiesenfeld has heard it. When Mr. Wiesenfeld–who previously served in a number of public offices, including a stint as George Pataki’s executive assistant for New York City–was nominated to the CUNY Board in 1999, the Post reported that he had once referred to blacks as “savages” and had called Hasidic Jews “thieves.” The claims were made by Williamsburg activist Isaac Abraham (who last year ran for City Council in Brooklyn’s 33rd District). The Times described the hearing as “testy.”
Mr. Wiesenfeld’s face turned red as Mr. [Daniel] Hevesi read last week’s newspaper article and other accounts dating back to 1995 that accused Mr. Wiesenfeld of name-calling. ”Mr. Abraham is a person who has been harassing me and my family for years,” Mr. Wiesenfeld said. ”I will not respond to his allegations.”
He asked Mr. Hevesi to end a ”20-year feud,” referring to a political struggle between Mr. Wiesenfeld and Mr. Hevesi’s father, City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi of New York.
Senator Hevesi acknowledged the tensions. ”Yes, there has been a political difference with the nominee in the past,” he said. ”I know that this nominee does not have the character to sit on the CUNY board.”
Mr. Hevesi tried to table a vote, but was denied, and Mr. Wiesenfeld was eventually confirmed as a trustee by the full Senate.