Landslide! Liberal clubhouse pol swept aside in centrist uprising

The Brooklyn Paper

Brooklyn’s best-known political club voted its president out of office in a landslide on Thursday night in an effort to move on from the internal strife that plagued it in the past year.

The Independent Neighborhood Democrats chose former a club president, Ira Cure — who by his own admission had not been involved for the last five years — over incumbent Kenn Lowy by a 68-13 vote.

If you’re counting at home, that’s 84 percent for Cure — a Brezhnev-style victory.

Cure sought to portray himself as a candidate who could better handle issues within the club, which has struggled with conflict between its moderate and progressive factions.

That conflict flashed into the public arena last year during a bitter, intranecine split within the club over which candidate the club would endorse for City Council.

Right-of-center, pro-life, anti-gay marriage candidate John Heyer, a longtime member of the club, won the endorsement — though he ended up getting slammed by far more liberal Brad Lander in the more-important election.

In the midst of the controversy, Lowy took a leave of absence as president rather than work to elect the club’s pick, Heyer.

He said he made the decision in hopes of avoiding splitting the club. He didn’t split the club — he motivated it.

“Basically, the people that supported Heyer want me out,” said Lowy before Thursday’s vote.

Some members said that the issue was not over last year’s kerfuffle, but more about Lowy’s leadership as the club struggles to maintain its relevancy in an age of declining clubhouse power.

“A small faction would like to make it about Heyer,” said Mark Shames, the chair of the executive board of the club. “But a lot of people had a lot of problems with Kenn over the last year.

“Cure has no affiliation with any particular faction in the club and is unencumbered by the passions of the moment. … He’s the ideal unity candidate.”

Cure, the landslide victor, agreed.

“I’m a labor lawyer — a professional mediator,” he said. “There are problems with [internal] procedures that I can overcome.”

Reader Feedback

Kenn Lowy from Bklyn Hts says:
This is the exact text from an email that Mark Shames sent Kenn Lowy (*when they say
it's not about sex", it's about sex):
The anger over your leave of absence for the primary could just not be managed. That coupled with the anger over the Brooklyn Paper quotes (whether misquoted or not), which was never adequately addressed with those offended, reached a tipping point. I don't think it was up to those who felt aggrieved to reach out to you as you suggested at the e-board meeting. I tried to tell you from whence opposition was continuing to come but such objections were never withdrawn.
Feb. 19, 2010, 9:27 am
Mark Shames from Park Slope says:
I really don't want to belabor things, but Kenn needs to grasp that there is more to his loss than he wishes to acknowledge. Presenting one e-mail does not reflect a complete picture. IND's past president had problems with an overwhelming number of members and that was reflected in the landslide vote. I had previously told him how he could blunt a significant portion of that discontent with one of the groupings within the club and keep matters from coming to a head. You see a number of us really did want to try to work things out internally. In the e-mail presented here by Kenn, I am telling him that he had failed to adequately reach out to aggrieved members. What seems to be misunderstood by Kenn, even now, is that he had on an interpersonal level offended many people (without regard to politics) and how his actions and those of some people closely associated with him are perceived to have hurt the reform movement with respect to the council race in the 33rd.
Feb. 19, 2010, 11:15 am
Kenn Lowy from Bklyn Hts says:
For the record: Mark is writing about Deb Scotto and a few others who never understood or accepted why I took a leave. There are issues with any President. There were issues with Karen Johnson and Devin Cohen. But they were never put into a situation where the club, for the first time in its history, endorsed a city wide candidate that did not believe in a woman's right to choose or marriage equality. No one is completely blameless. I pissed a lot of people off by leaving. But the others pissed a lot of people off by packing the club and forcing a candidate that, by Mark's own admission, never had a chance to win. That's divisive. The election was a blow out, no question about it. I'm an unabashed liberal. The club is not interested in someone with my views. That's ok. I may not be going to disneyland, but I am going to CBID.

Do you think anyone else is even reading this? RIP IND.
Feb. 20, 2010, 12:50 am
Bill from Park Slope says:
I don't know why I'm doing this, since I'm not a member of either club, but since this exchange is taking place on a public forum, I guess I will add my thoughts.

CBID's candidate in the 39th, Josh Skaller, turned out to be something of a paper tiger, and only beat Heyer by about 400 votes, while losing to Lander by about 2000 votes. It seems to me that a divided IND did about as well as a unified CBID, right? So why is Lowy so quick to suggest that IND will fail now that he is leaving, when it may be just as likely that, without his presence, they may actually do much better.

My sense of CBID, from reading about it from third rate bloggers like Mole333, or third rate operatives like Chris Owens, is that it is a place where people talk a big game, and make alot of noise, but can't win elections, since many (not all) of the members are so self-righteous that no one else will have anything to do with them, and therefore they cannot engage in the kind of coalition based politics necessary in such a diverse borough as Brooklyn.
Feb. 21, 2010, 10:35 am
Kenn Lowy from Bklyn Hts says:
Bill,

Heyer did much better than anyone expected. However, he did not win (from what I have heard) one ED in the 52nd AD, which is what IND represents. He won votes by being a conservative. Being against a woman's right to choose, against same sex marriage and he wants to give vouchers to parents that send their children to private (religious) schools. Those are not the values of the voters that live in this district. That's just a simple fact.

As for winning elections, IND endorsed Simon, Heyer, Yassky and De Blasio. De Blasio is the only candidate that won. If you were at the IND meeting last Thursday you would have heard one person after another asking why IND continues to endorse losers. Which is almost beside the point. Candidates don't need clubs anymore. Brad Lander won easily without any club support. Daniel Squadron won 2 years ago without IND. Clubs have to evolve and figure out what to do next. CBID knows that. IND talks about it, but there's no action. Talk is cheap and easy.

As for Josh, sometimes a good candidate just doesn't catch on. CBID is active in the community and is progressive, IND isn't. There's nothing wrong with that if you're not a progressive. I am and most voters in the 52nd AD are as well. So my feeling is that IND is out of touch.

You should come to a few meetings of each club and see what's going on. I'll be at CBID. Come by and say hello.
Feb. 21, 2010, 11:02 am
Bill from Park Slope says:
Ken,

Fair enough. Thanks for the response.
Feb. 21, 2010, 11:08 am
mole333 from Park Slope says:
Heh...So I'm a third rate blogger Bill? Well at least you don't think I'm fourth rate. Have to say, though, there are some Congressional reps around the country and some NASA scientists who would disagree with you. But truth is both IND and CBID have pretty poor records these days. And locally so do I, so as Brooklyn endorsements go perhaps I am third rate. I do better in Virginia and Iowa than I do here. Go figure.

My main comment is for Mark Shames. You focus on dissatisfaction with Kenn Lowy, which I am sure your faction honestly feels. However, I witnessed far wider spread anger at your faction from the most active members of the club (as opposed to the packers you guys bring in when you need), with feminists and LGBT members feeling that you guys, yes YOUR faction, pushed them aside for one person's blind agenda. Please. Enjoy your club and it's now strengthened power to endorse Suozzi, Heyer and Yassky (twice, though I know you were only on board for one of those times) in their losing bids for office.
Feb. 21, 2010, 5:33 pm
BK from Columbia Waterfront says:
Kenn says: "Candidates don't need clubs anymore. Brad Lander won easily without any club support. Daniel Squadron won 2 years ago without IND." But both Lander and Squardron had the support of one local club: the South Brooklyn Club of the Working Families Party.
Feb. 21, 2010, 8:28 pm
Pat Ki. from South brooklyn says:
Could you imagine if people ( like the Tea Party) actually started making in roads in the People's Republic of Park Slope where I grew up.

I'm sorry is that the alarm clock going off, I must have been dreaming.
Feb. 21, 2010, 9:03 pm
Kenn Lowy from Bklyn Hts says:
Pat: No one should have those kinds of nightmares.

BK: Unless I'm mistaken, Working Families party members can't collect petitions for Democrats. They are a powerful force nonetheless.

kenn
Feb. 22, 2010, 2:24 pm

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