Kiryas Joel, Like Chinatown

The village of Kiryas Joel is claiming credit for John Hall’s victory in the 19th Congressional District over Sue Kelly .

From Ari Felberman, the government relations coordinator for the village:

“Numbers don’t lie. The numbers are very clear, there was a chunk of votes taken out of one column and put into the other. It was basically a doubling of the votes, and John Hall won within that margin.”

The Hall campaign doesn’t disagree. As spokesman Tom Staudter told me, “Obviously it was an important block for us.”

The reason for their endorsement of Hall, Felberman said, was a call from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“Shelly Silver asked that we give him every consideration possible,” Felberman said. “Democrats will be able to do more if they have a united ticket, this will be a clean sweep.”

Then there was the little matter of water pipelines.

In March 2004, Kelly withdrew from a Congressional bill a $20 million federal funding authorization for the building of a water pipeline from New York City’s reservoir to Kiryas Joel. The town had aggressively lobbied for the aqueduct to meet the needs of its fast growing Satmar community. At the time, Kelly said the authorization was contingent on the pipeline serving more than one municipality, and withdrew her support at the time because, according to a spokesperson, “it’s becoming more and more clear that there’s not a regional consensus for this project.”

There was, in fact, sharp opposition to the project, including an anti-pipeline Web site – and an online petition protesting the aqueduct.

After Kiryas Joel shifted their support from Kelly to Hall right before this year’s election — they were initially considered to have been behind Kelly becuase TK — voters began receiving robo-calls suggesting that John Hall must have agreed to a secret deal on the pipeline.

Hall’s office denies it. “John made no deals, made no promises,” Staudter said. “She courted their votes as avidly as John did.”

Kelly’s office didn’t return calls for comment.

Felberman, for his part, said that the calls put out by the Kelly campaign bordered on anti-Semitism and played on the county’s fear of a growing Jewish community.

Asked what the community expected, pipeline-wise, to get from Hall, he offered this somewhat vague response:

“Put it this way, just to be treated fairly, as equal citizens.”

–Jason Horowitz Kiryas Joel, Like Chinatown