Criticism of Espaillat and support for Levine in interview with former Assemblyman Brian Murtaugh

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The Uptown Current recently interviewed former New York State Assemblyman from the 72nd district, Brian Murtaugh. Mr. Murtaugh, who teaches a course at Baruch College on New York State politics, discussed the 31st District senatorial primary election next Tuesday. He has strongly supported Mark Levine for the post. 

Murtaugh explains in detail why he feels Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat would be a poor choice for the senate seat. It should be noted that The Uptown Current supports Levine in next week's election. We are also supporting Gabriela Rosa for the 72nd Assembly district seat that Espaillat currently holds. 

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The Espaillat years in Inwood were bad ones with respect to noise and other quality of life violations. Under Espaillat’s watch, we saw the growth of racing on the Dyckman Drag Strip, the unprecedented and ethically questionable expansion of noisy nightclubs posing as restaurants, the lending out of public property for noisy rallies on behalf of political candidates in foreign elections, and the charade of officials holding meetings with the public in which they repeatedly claimed that few, if any, noise or traffic violations were documented and that their management was a problem of “inadequate manpower.” Local residents recognize these denials as nothing more than a fast-talking runaround with the public. The surreal nature of this two-step has led many of us to feel that back-room deals under Espaillat’s watch have led to the rapid up-tick in noise during his time in office.

Instead of balancing the needs of business against the legitimate right of local residents to sleep at night (as Denny Farrell has successfully done), Mr. Espaillat has sided unilaterally with the Vida/Mamajuana cartel, the Miami-based group behind the transformation of West Dyckman Street into our very own Alcohol Alley. Other than publish one publicity piece claiming to have taken action – action that locals have found difficult to identify as real – Espaillat appears to have done nothing to quell the flood of noisy establishments over Inwood. In fact, he seems to have promoted it. I will never forget his participation in that transparent piece of political theater that many derisively call the “Postcard Terrorist Press Conference.” He stood shoulder to shoulder with leaders of the Vida/Mamajuana cartel, throwing the weight of his office behind a ridiculous contention: that local businesses are in real danger from some apparently-elderly, deranged person who can barely put pen to paper. The FBI apparently has declined to investigate, and no findings of a real threat have surfaced since then. The true intent of this press conference, as many Inwoodites recognized from the start, was to garner public sympathy for expansion by the allegedly downtrodden Vida/Mamajuana cartel. It was a shameful, politically motivated slur on the motives of local residents, who want only to achieve balance in an area super-saturated with liquor licenses and the noise- and traffic-violations that have come with them.

We may not know what Mark Levine will do to help residents who want to return the area to some semblance of balance, but he has already done more than Espaillat merely by acknowledging the problem, by attending town halls and other meetings devoted to the quality of life problems that have ballooned under Espaillat, and by personally pledging to local residents that he will take positive action. His election would initiate a radical departure from the political charades of the Espaillat era, and I would welcome it. Espaillat also wrote directly to the State Liquor Authority pleading with them to grant the third (!!!) liquor license beyond their own limit for the western end of Dyckman Street. Clearly, he doesn't care about the quality of life of people in the West Dyckman area, but rather about his back-room pals and their big campaign contributions. By contrast, Levine has raised money - not from a few wealthy donors who expect (and evidently receive!) political favors - but from a large number of small contributors. In short, Levine raises money Obama style, while Espaillat is much more in the mold of George W. Bush: big money from special interests with carpet-bagging agendas.

I encourage you strongly to get out the vote for Mr. Levine in the NY State Senate primary election this coming Tuesday.

Bradley Brookshire
20-Year Inwood Resident

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