SPEECH BY STEPHEN PIERSON – LAUNCH OF CITY COUNCIL CAMPAIGN – SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2013 – PAGE 1
Good afternoon, and thanks so much to all of you for coming. My name is Stephen Pierson and I amrunning for City Council in New York's 33rd district.I am not a politician, as my wife keeps reminding me, and I have never especially wanted to be one. But Iam here today because I feel compelled to challenge the incumbent Council member, Steve Levin, andbecause I know I can do a better job representing everyone in this 33
Council District.Steve Levin does not represent the values of this district. The 33rd is one of the most progressive districtsin this progressive city.How, then, did we end up with Steve Levin – a politician who is completely, brazenly, andembarrassingly deferential to the most vile man in Brooklyn politics, Vito Lopez?How did we end up with a Councilman who has wasted millions of our tax dollars, sending them out of our district to Vito's corrupt so-called charity? How did we end up with a Councilman who stood silentwhen his mentor, Vito Lopez, repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted his young interns?I am not generally an angry person or a cynical person. I have run a non-profit for the last seven years. Iwork with incredibly inspiring artists and writers and middle school students. I have an amazing wife andI have an awesomely active two year-old daughter. These things fill my life with joy and optimism.But I cannot stand idly by while Steve Levin demeans this district with his 19th century politics,continually putting his own political aspirations ahead of the needs of this community.Let’s be more specific:Steve Levin was Vito Lopez's chief of staff. Vito got him elected to the City Council. That isindisputable. Since then, Levin has made it his life's mission to pay back his debts to Vito.Vito runs a thoroughly corrupt charity, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. RidgewoodBushwick has been the target of multiple federal investigations. Vito has stacked its executive leadershipwith his friends who all make massive salaries. The Executive Director made $782,000 in one recentyear. Even Vito's girlfriend serves as one of its directors. She made $343,000 in the same year that shesimultaneously earned a full-time salary as a City Planning Commissioner—appointed, of course, byVito.Steve Levin has made it his personal mission to direct as many Council funds as possible to this sham of anon-profit. During Levin's first three years in office, his efforts directly resulted in more than 2 milliontaxpayer dollars being sent to Ridgewood Bushwick.
This so-called non-profit doesn't even serve residents of our district.
To add insult to injury, Steve Levin has also wasted his discretionary spending money on this sham. Eachyear, every Council member has a small amount of money they can give out to their district's non-profitcommunity. I run a non-profit -- I know exactly how vital this money is for the non-profit community of this district. So I find it especially despicable that Steve Levin has repeatedly chosen to send our district'sdiscretionary money -- an average of $50,000 per year -- to Ridgewood Bushwick. During one year,$12,000 of that discretionary money was used to pay for a single lunch.Now lunch happens to be my favorite meal, so I can empathize up to a point. But not entirely.