Thursday, August 13, 2009

Delia Hunley-Adossa's stealth candidacy for the 35th Council District; will there be a September push?

While candidates for open seats in the 33rd and 39th Council Districts are eagerly debating with and even sniping at each other, in the 35th District, the main challenger--who has championed Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project but has avoided questions about it--is playing very hard to get, as the New York Times's blog The Local reported yesterday.

[Update: Hunley-Adossa finally talked to The Local, but didn't say much, though she did defer to her campaign manager about participating in an online Town Hall. Note that this allows candidates to answer questions in writing, rather than (more vulnerably) in real-time. Ok, she will participate.]

So, what to make of the stealth campaign of Delia Hunley-Adossa, known for her work as president of 88th Precinct Community Council and her questionable ties to the Atlantic Yards project? Perhaps because of the latter, she's avoiding the press and public debates. But is that the way to win a Council seat held by incumbent Letitia James, who won her last primary with 84% of the vote?

I don't think so. I doubt even the AY-loving Daily News could legitimately endorse her after her unwillingness to subject herself to public scrutiny.

Has Hunley-Adossa given up, concluding that the political fight is not for her? Maybe, but I doubt it. Perhaps she'll pour her remaining resources into a final push during the week before the election--remember (pro-AY candidate) Tracy Boyland's stealth campaign in 2006 for (anti-AY) Velmanette Montgomery's state Senate seat.

And Hunley-Adossa or her allies just might gin up a mini-scandal involving James, to be leaked in that final week to the Courier-Life's notorious Stephen Witt, who in the spring broke the news that James was late on her tax bill.

It was a legitimate (if overblown) story, but no one has asked Hunley-Adossa the more important question she wouldn't answer in March: does her dubious organization Brooklyn Endeavor Experience (BEE), a signatory of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) get money from Forest City Ratner? (Answer, as FCR executive MaryAnne Gilmartin revealed July 22: all CBA signatories are funded by the developer.)

Among the other unanswered questions:
  • what environmental expertise does Hunley-Adossa have to run BEE, which aims to address green issues?
  • why has BEE distributed more money in compensation to Hunley-Adossa than it has spent on program services?
  • why does half the BEE board consist of Hunley-Adossa family members?
  • how does she feel about MCing rallies for Forest City Ratner, as she did in June 2008, taking direction from the developer's staff?
(Photo by Adrian Kinloch, who also shot video excerpted by The Local at top.)

"Have You Seen This Woman"?

The Local looked into Hunley-Adossa's mysterious campaign in a piece, as the screenshot above indicates, headlined The Day: Have You Seen This Woman?

Though Hunley-Adossa has spent $23,392 and raised $22,585, according to her latest campaign finance filing, she wouldn't return calls to The Local, her friends and supporters wouldn't comment, and her rivals, incumbent James and longshot Medhanie Estiphanos, said they hadn't seen her lately. The Brooklyn Paper has also run into roadblocks.

James's campaign Tweeted a response: "wondering where the transparency is," with a link to the story in The Local.

Questions coming

The Local plans an online town hall, with readers' questions aimed at the candidates; James and Estiphanos "pledged their participation without hesitation." The Local points to Hunley-Adossa's presence at the July 29 public hearing on Atlantic Yards; I noted that she didn't mention her candidacy when she testified.

The Local did do some sleuthing:
Her campaign Web site doesn’t even show up in the first 100 results of a Google search of her name.....

We found her Web site only by combing through Facebook, where she has 119 friends and 81 fans.


As the screenshot shows, only three people--one of them me (undecided--it's not my district)--answered the web site's online poll about people's priorities.

The platform

Hunley-Adossa's web site is long on biography and pictures of her in the community, long on generalities, short on policy. Her home page offers redundancies and banalities:

Delia M. Hunley-Adossa has a proven leadership record in the community as an advocate and a voice for this community. Speaking out against injustice and standing up when it counts. She believes the priorities for this community are Economy, Education, Affordable Housing and the Environment. Delia believes that people are always first.

It also describes the CBA in generalities, without mentioning Atlantic Yards (though the next paragraph does note that BEE is a partner on AY):
Chairperson of the Community Benefits Agreement Coalition

The Coalition was created to assist with the implementation of the Community Benefit Agreement and facilitate an ongoing dialogue between the Coalition and the Developers, the Coalition and the Developers established a working group known as the Executive Committee, comprised of representatives from the Coalition members and the Developers.


By contrast, Estiphanos addresses issues like the MTA, Education, and Housing, as well as "My Opponent"--criticizing James but ignoring Hunley-Adossa.

James uses a Facebook page for her campaign and has a Twitter feed, as well as the advantages of incumbency, like a Team Tish blog.

On video

Hunley-Adossa's statements in a video interview for Brooklyn Independent Television's Brooklyn Review (4/13/09) are similarly innocuous. "I want to see more amenities brought into the community," she says, also mouthing the mantra of "green jobs."

Estiphanos speaks with far more verve. James, for whatever reason, chose not to participate.

The narrator notes that Hunley-Adossa's campaign treasurer, Charlene Nimmons, also runs another group that signed the CBA, "causing some to accuse both of them of being loyal to Ratner." Um, I guess AYR is part of the "some." It's still a legitimate question, given that Forest City Ratner almost certainly pays their salaries.

The Boyland example & Musa Moore

In September 2006, I described how Boyland's campaign had been sending fliers and putting up posters in the 18th Senatorial District, while skirting the rules regarding campaign finance. Hunley-Adossa has been complying with the rules, but has been similarly unavailable.

The Local's Michael Szeto reported that he did reach Musa Moore, Hunley-Adossa’s campaign manager, who promised to put the candidate in touch, but it was not to be.

Moore has a long history in Brooklyn machine politics. In July 2006, Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice wrote about Brooklyn Democratic boss Clarence Norman (since convicted of extortion) and his ally, then-state Senator Carl Andrews.

In the article, headlined Andrews Amnesia: Why are the media giving the scandal-ridden Norman pal a pass?, Barrett wrote:

While Andrews and Boone were two of the Norman associates routinely placed on the payroll of Norman-endorsed candidates, the new star in that boutique business is Moses "Musa" Moore, who's collected over $370,000 from at least 18 candidates, most of it since 2005. At 34, Moore, who was also paid a total of $110,000 as a senate aide to Andrews until this January, is now coordinating the congressional campaign out of his Visibility Consulting storefront headquarters at 1622 Bedford Avenue. Moore is an Andrews protégé put on the senate payroll in November 2001, four months before Andrews formally assumed the senate seat vacated by Marty Markowitz, who was elected borough president in 2001. Marty Connor, the senate Democratic leader then, said Andrews asked that Moore be hired.

Moore worked on James's campaign in 2005. Now he's working for her rival.

(Update: I'm reminded that James was fined for overpaying Moore.)

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