Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Time To Send Tony Avella To The Political Trash Heap

I have nothing but disdain for the the Independent Democratic Caucus, the group of breakaway Dems that governed with Republicans and helped Governor Cuomo with much of his pro-Wall Street, pro-education reform agenda.

The member of the IDC I have the most disdain for is Tony Avella, the "maverick" who stuck the knife into his fellow Dems earlier this year when he joined the IDC, allegedly because he felt the Democratic caucus was "dysfunctional" and he wanted to be able to pass legislature as part of the governing majority.

Avella was full of shit, of course - he had simply been paid off to join the IDC and help promote a center-right agenda.

Since the time of Avella's defection, Governor Cuomo was forced to agree to help Dems retake the State Senate as part of the deal that got him the Working Families Party endorsement, an agreement that is supposed to render the IDC non-operative, since a Dem-run State Senate would have no place for the breakaway IDC.

Too bad for Avella - it is starting to look like Avella joined the IDC at exactly the wrong time in its history.

We'll see if Dems actually retake the Senate and, if so, the members of the IDC actually rejoin the Democratic Party rather than continue to govern as Republicans.

In any case, Tony Avella's now whining because John Liu is targeting him in a primary:

In February, Mr. Avella joined a five-member group of breakaway Democrats that has shared control of the Senate with Republicans. By June, Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, the leader of those Democrats, who is also facing a primary challenge, ended that power-sharing arrangement by agreeing to reunite his coalition with fellow Democrats after the fall general election.

But depending on how the elections turn out, in September and November, some suspect Mr. Klein might make more political moves, particularly if he trounces his primary opponent, G. Oliver Koppell, or if the Republicans gain strength in the narrowly divided chamber.

“If the Democrats keep the same number of seats that they have now, which is one more than a majority, I think there will be that agreement,” State Assemblyman David I. Weprin said of Mr. Klein’s promises as he campaigned last week with Mr. Liu. “If for some reason the Republicans pick up a seat or two, all bets could be off.”  

Still, Mr. Avella wonders why Mr. Liu did not drop his challenge. “His whole issue with running was, I joined the I.D.C.,” Mr. Avella said, referring to the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference. “If the whole Liu candidacy was about the I.D.C., well, we’re going back.” 
Mr. Avella called it “a disgrace” that the party bosses were trying to disenfranchise his campaign. He joined with Mr. Klein, he said, because the “Democratic conference was dysfunctional.” The conservative Democrats in the Senate made cohesion on liberal issues difficult, and votes elusive, Mr. Avella continued. Come January, he said, Mr. Klein’s agreement to join his Democratic colleagues is solid.

For their part, some Democrats in the district think Avella is "paying the price" for his disloyalty:

Representative Joseph Crowley, the leader of the Queens Democratic organization, said it was too late to turn back the forces lined up for Mr. Liu. He said Mr. Avella’s “empowerment of the Republican caucus” in the chamber was a betrayal because the party had backed Mr. Avella so strongly.

He predicts a close race, but said he believed Mr. Avella “will pay a price” among voters in the Democratic base for defecting.

Liu has more money than Avella but Avella has "roots" in the district.

I haven't seen any polling on the race but I'll take Joseph Crowley at his word that he thinks it will be close.

I do hope John Liu beats Tony Avella and sends him - and his expedient political career - to the trash heap.

Few pols running in this cycle deserve to be thrown in the trash heap more than Avella.


  1. I don't agree with a lot of Avella's politics but he will always have my vote as he is an awesome representative of the community he represents. When we had trouble with a roofer, he got us a quick resolution and we got our money back. When a friend needed help getting speed bumps on her block, he did what no other politician did. None of them are perfect and they all sell out at some time but Tony has the back of the community and that is very important.

    1. I suspect your comment is a good indication of why Avella will ultimately win, P.O. Teacher.

      But I disagree fundamentally with your reasoning.

      Avella is scummy, all about political expediency and deserves to be sent to the trash heap for his sell-out.

      Also, IDC helped Cuomo with a lot of his ed deform agenda.

      A vote for Avella is a vote for that agenda.

      Liu is certainly not perfect either - he seems like a fevered little ego in search of applause.

      But on education issues, he's terrific and deserves support.

      But your comment gives me the sinking feeling that many in your district won't see it that way.

    2. I should add, this article on the Avella/Liu race gives an indication of both where you stand, P.O., and where I'm coming from:

      Avella focuses on bread and butter issues, which voters like - as you noted in your comment.

      But other pols think Avella is a whiner and a complainer and needs to be punished for his cynical defection to the IDC - which is where I'm coming from.

    3. My wife and I agree with Pissed Off and Ms. Tsouris. We will be voting for Avella in the primary. I concur with everything Reality said about the IDC and was very angry when Avella switched over. I got in touch with his office to complain after he switched and got an explanation for his vote on the pro charter budget which was a compromise to him but a sell out for me.

      Normally that would be it for me and I understand why it is for anyone else. However, through my Jamaica High School-centric vision of the world, Avella stands out as one of a group of politicians who was always there for us along with David Weprin, Melinda Katz, Mark Weprin, Karen Kozlowitz, Leroy Comrie, and a few others.

      Here is what Avella did for our school. At our Joint Public Hearing in 2011, he didn't stay for ten minutes, make a speech and leave. He remained there for the whole evening talking to us and organizing. On another day, he brought in other elected officials to look at the horrible conditions for the Jamaica HS students in the building compared to the new schools. He then came to the PEP meeting on February 3, 2011 to speak on our behalf.

      Avella would not give up after we lost the rubber stamp PEP vote. He held a meeting with a bunch of us at his office to plan actions. This was followed by a very successful rally at the school that Avella helped to organize. He then promoted a concert at Jamaica by the Cleftones on behalf of the school.

      The next fall, he called a press conference to highlight the unequal treatment our kids were receiving during the phase out and he then penned a letter to the State Education Department complaining about our school's treatment. Subsequently, we got a huge influx of money. (The Holder Report is online if you want to see it.)

      Avella also signed on for the UFT-NAACP lawsuit to stop our school from closing and he was helping me to keep that alive up through 2013.

      He repeated his support for Jamaica after he switched to the IDC.

      So yes I have a Jamaica-centric view of this one but the man gets a great deal of slack because of what he did for us.

    4. From your story, James I can understand why you are cutting him some slack.

      I cannot - Jeff Klein pushed vouchers, charters, and an end to LIFO as head of the Independent Democratic Caucus.

      When Avella defected to the pro-voucher, pro-charter, union-busting IDC, Avella effectively became pro-voucher, pro-charter, pro-union-busting no matter what his stances or actions in his past.

      There certainly have been enough stories around, both here on the blog, and in the Times, of Avella getting slack from people because of the "pothole" work he's done for them.

      We'll see if that's enough to save him this election cycle.

  2. I am supporting Avella for the very reasons that Pissed Off stated. Avella has truly represented his community, unlike many who represent interests such as development and the corporate establishment. Now Liu, who has done nothing for the community except speaking at local high school graduations, is the one to beat? When was he picked up off the political trash heap? Avella, no matter what factional politics he was involved with, always did what he was elected to do and didn't campaign for the following term the minute he took office.

    1. That's cool - but know that Avella will help push ed deform agenda as member of the IDC.

  3. Avella and all the IDC Dems have to go. Thier scummy turncoat tactics basically gave the Republicans control of the Senate. It was because of the IDC that so much of Cuomo's conservative agenda (including his Ed Deform policies and denying school districts funds they need) was allowed to pass. Avella is the classic example of a politician who cares far more about his own interests and power than what is actually good for the state.

    1. The day I heard he joined the IDC, I thought "What a self-serving, conniving @#$%!"

      Haven't changed my opinion about that.

  4. This one has me torn, as each has substantial reasons both to support and oppose.A large part of the opposition to Liu is xenophobia on the part of the few remaining non-Asians in this area, though they may makr up a large number of the turnout on Primary Day.Should be interesting.

    1. Liu is looking to ride Asian support, as is Wu in the lieutenant governor's race.Liu has certainly raised more cash from from more individuals, many of whom are from the Asian community. Of course, that was why Bloomberg has Preet Bharara go after him a few years ago.

  5. Remarkable that teachers want to get their roof fixed and don't give a damn about their colleagues. That's the same self-serving mentality that gives us Mulgrew.

    1. This this teacher does not appreciate a waterfall in her living room. I am also sick and tired of non residents telling me how to vote.

    2. I think the response elected officials offer to constituents in need is important.

      It's clear from both your comment, P.O. Teacher, and Ms. Tsouris', that Avella has been good at that part of the job.

      That should help him in a couple of weeks.

      We'll see how it all shakes out.

  6. For all of those criticizing Avella on education. Over the past few months Avella has secured 2 million dollars to public schools in the district so that all may keep after school programs. He is also a sponsor on the moratorium against the implementation of the common core of standards. Lets not all try and get carried away with the lies that the corrupt queens political machine tries to instill in our heads. The reason Tony joined the IDC is because he bows to no party boss. The reason anyone would put Liu up for an election after his atrocious political history, is so that he may be a puppet for power brokers to count on when strings need to be pulled. I guarantee if Liu wins this election, we will see the same over development occur that happened to downtown flushing while he presided over it as its city council rep.

    1. The members of the IDC have pushed vouchers, charters, Common Core, APPR, an end to LIFO and other things that makes me say I cannot support any member of the IDC. Since Avella joined IDC, I cannot support him. In the end, it doesn't matter much, since I don't live in the district. But both Avella and Liu garner strong feelings both ways, that's for sure.

  7. Is this the same Tony Avila who had a walk-off home run against the Yankees this afternoon? If so, they should have pitched around him and gotten to Tony Liu.

  8. Amazing Avella supporters don't like criticism from outside district. I don't remember them complaining when we spent our money and time to get him elected. Never would have been there without us.

    1. Good point - a lot of outside money rolled into the district to elect Avella, who has never been the favorite of the establishment. There were no complaints from Avella staffers and supporters then. But now there's a bit of "Mind you own business!" going on.