Tells us how you really feel, Councilman Lew Fidler.
Mr. Fidler, who yesterday criticized Senator-elect Simcha Felder for vowing to cross party lines and caucus with the Republicans, took another pass this afternoon in a lengthy statement where he demanded Mr. Felder himself answer questions about the decision.
“Simcha is correct that the parties are not a religion, nor should they be,” Mr. Fidler wrote. “But being open and honest with the voters should be.”
Additionally, Mr. Fidler recalled the time Mr. Felder, a former colleague in the City Council, avoided voting for now-Speaker Christine Quinn by exiting the room, arguing even an abstention such as that would be more noble than outright joining the GOP conference.
“Several years ago as a member of the City Council, Simcha agreed to support a candidate for Speaker and then conveniently went to the men’s room at the time of the vote,” he continued. “I’d much prefer that behavior to the overt choice to mislead. Simcha and I will, I hope, continue to be friends….but he needs to answer the questions or they will haunt him from the first day he takes office.”
Although Mr. Fidler requested Mr. Felder personally answer his questions about when the senator-elect specifically decided to join the Republican caucus, or what he was promised in return, it doesn’t seem the councilman will immediately get his wish.
“As Senator-elect Felder said repeatedly from the moment he began his campaign, he would caucus with the group of Senators that would most benefit his district. When he takes office in January as a member of the Majority Conference, the people of Brooklyn will benefit from his decision,” Mr. Felder’s spokesman, Kalman Yeger, said in a statement when reached for a response. “Simcha looks forward to working with all of Brooklyn’s elected officials – Democrats and Republicans – to provide the most and best to their shared constituents, and firmly believes his decision will enable him to do so.”
View Mr. Fidler’s full statement below:
Statement from Councilman Lew Fidler Regarding Simcha Felder’s Move to the Republican Party:
A Challenge that Simcha Felder Must Answer.
Yesterday, I expressed my disappointment in my friend and former colleague Simcha Felder’s decision to caucus with Republicans and asked for an explanation. Through a spokesman, Simcha issued a statement which on its face lacks any substantive credibility.
Throughout the campaign, Simcha had assured the voters—and me personally—that he would sit with whichever party delivered the most for his district. Transactional for sure, but apparently honest. I took him at his word as did most voters.
Simcha’s explanation yesterday was a subtle yet wholly significant explanation from what he had promised. It waxed poetic about philosophies and abounded with some nonsense about the Republicans in the Senate being compassionate towards the poor and for the middle class.
That begs the question: When did Simcha Felder come to understand the philosophies of the political parties? What changed about the philosophies of the parties since the election that Simcha was not aware of before the election? If he knew, the philosophies of the parties before the election, why did he not state publicly that he would sit with the Republicans? That is the true issue here…..was Simcha Felder being honest with the voters of the district? Since it would be hard to imagine that Simcha learned anything about party philosophy after the election, Simcha did a disservice to the voters of his Senate district. Surely, countless thousands chose him over his Republican opponent because he was the Democratic Party candidate.
Therefore, Simcha—and not his spokesman—owes an answer to those questions—and specific answers, not pabulum—to those questions.
Additionally, if Simcha chooses to revert to his transactional answer, then he needs to tell people what pieces of silver were offered and by whom. Whatever was promised is being paid for out of the public till and the public has a right to know that as well.
I applaud the statement made by my friend and County Leader Frank Seddio. To those that differ, I would suggest that there is a huge difference between endorsing candidates of other parties from time to time and running on a party’s line and then without any intervening event, indicating that the other party is more consistent with the candidate’s own philosophy and organizing the legislative body with the other side. Simcha is correct that the parties are not a religion, nor should they be. But being open and honest with the voters should be.
Simcha needs to answer those questions. If he can’t, and does not think he can philosophically be a Democrat, he ought to do the right thing and change his party enrollment. As Democrats, we are free to—and should—disagree on issues all the time. But when you believe that the other party shares your philosophy of government more than your own, then you should change parties. To thine own self, be true.
Several years ago as a member of the City Council, Simcha agreed to support a candidate for Speaker and then conveniently went to the men’s room at the time of the vote. I’d much prefer that behavior to the overt choice to mislead. Simcha and I will, I hope, continue to be friends….but he needs to answer the questions or they will haunt him from the first day he takes office.