Before a crowd of 400 at a Brooklyn catering hall last week, Assemblyman Dov Hikind had difficulty staying off the podium.
Presiding over a fund-raiser for his newly minted political club, Hikind often upstaged the emcee and, during his own speech, lingered for more than 20 minutes, covering everything from local judgeship races to his own political ambitions.
"We have a lot of important things coming up," Hikind told the crowd of club members and local elected officials, citing upcoming elections. "All of us are going to work together."
Four Orthodox candidates for City Council in Brooklyn will have to defend their signature petitions in court next week as a fifth Orthodox contestant tries to knock them off the ballot.
The candidates claim Irma Kramer is seeking to avoid a split in the Orthodox vote in the Feb. 16 special election to succeed Anthony Weiner, who was elected to Congress last year. "It is shameful and pathetic that Irma is trying to exclude other Orthodox Jews," says Yehuda Levin, one of the candidates. "She did not challenge the liberal, secular Jews."
Among the more interesting objects on Anthony Weiner's desk is a jar-sized capsule containing a formaldehyde-encased baby shark. But he insists there is no significance to the decoration. It doesn't represent his youthful, tenacious political style or the eat-or-be-eaten world in which he lives and seems to thrive.
"It was just an interesting gift" from a friend, he says, adding that, if anything, it reflects his philosophy that "you have to move forward to live."
Ruben Franco, the chairman of the New York City Housing Authority who is reportedly on the verge of being fired, has earned high marks within the Jewish community during his tenure. "He's a real mensch," said Isaac Abraham, a Satmar chasidic activist closely involved in public housing issues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "He has been great in resolving many differences between the Jewish community and the Latino community."
It was a year of bluster and blunder, ascent to higher office and descent to name-calling. This year's collection of political stars includes big-spending Democrats, a loose-lipped senator, irresponsible Council members and an attorney general whose motto of "never say die" probably killed his career.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan will devote his remaining two years in office to promoting aid to families that pay parochial school tuition. That was the impression the Democratic senior senator (who will retire in 2000) left with some of the 35 Jewish leaders he met with privately last week. The meeting took place at the Loews Corporation offices of James Tisch, president of UJA-Federation.
A Jewish political group in Crown Heights has endorsed third-party candidate Letitia James over a member of their own chasidic community, Abraham Wasserman, in what could be the cityís most dramatic City Council race next week.
Some prominent black leaders are intensifying their efforts to stop a white Jewish candidate from winning the Democratic primary for Congress in Brooklyn's majority black 11th Congressional District.
Black elected officials have held a series of meetings, including one Monday morning, to address their growing concern that well-funded New York City Councilman David Yassky could prevail in a Sept. 12 Democratic primary against three African-American candidates. Efforts to convince one or two of them to drop out to avoid splitting the black vote have fallen short.
Rarely do people have to speculate on where Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stands on an issue of keen interest to Orthodox Jews.
But when it comes to mounting pressure to push through some form of tax relief for parents who pay private school tuition, Silver has said little publicly as observers and activists try to predict his eventual position.
Silver, an opponent of tuition vouchers for private schools, recently said he does not accept the position of opponents that tax credits are a back door or stealth voucher program.