Thursday, August 22, 2013

32 BJ Union Rescinds Endorsement Of Micah Kellner For Roosevelt Island, Manhattan East Side NYC Council Seat, Throws Support To Opponent Ben Kallos - Video From Lenox HIll Candidates Forum Yesterday

As reported July 24:

... Roosevelt Island's Assembly Member and NYC Council Candidate Micah Kellner was accused of sexual harassment by a junior staff member....

... There was no suggestion that the inappropriate behavior in either the 2009 or 2011 episodes was anything other than verbal in nature... (via NY Times)
The August 14 Daily News followed up: 
..Our Ken Lovett reported last week that an ethics investigation has been opened into a 2009 harassment complaint against Kellner.

"The probe comes after it was revealed last month that Kellner’s former chief of staff Eliyanna Kaiser brought allegations to [Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver counsel Bill Collins in 2009 that the Manhattan Democrat had sexually inappropriate online conversations with a young woman on his staff," Lovett wrote....
More bad news came last week for Roosevelt Island's Assembly Member Micah Kellner
 Image From NY State Assembly

in his race to succeed Jessica Lappin (who is running for Manhattan Borough President) as NYC Council Member for Manhattan's 5th District which includes Roosevelt Island, the Upper East Side and Midtown East.

According to this August 14 Press Release from 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU):
The Executive Board of 32BJ SEIU voted unanimously today to rescind the union’s endorsement of Assembly Member Micah Kellner for a City Council seat. It was the first time the union, which has 75,000 members in New York City, has ever rescinded an endorsement.

“Given the allegations against Kellner, we cannot in good conscience continue to support his candidacy, and call on him to withdraw from the race," said Kyle Bragg, secretary-treasurer of 32BJ SEIU. “We are deeply disappointed, and do this with a measure of sadness, but it is the right thing to do.”

After rescinding the endorsement, the union’s Executive Board voted unanimously to support Ben Kallos, a lawyer and noted Democratic activist, for the Council seat from the 5th District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. That seat is held by Jessica Lappin, who 32BJ has endorsed for Manhattan Borough President.

“Ben Kallos is a hard-working progressive who has always fought for the rights of working men and women,” Bragg said. “As a lawyer, he fought to get retirement and health benefits for working families, and has been an advocate on issues that are important to the working men and women of New York City, like education, affordable housing, and tax reform.”
 NYC Council Candidate Ben Kallos

View image on Twitter

stated in response to his endorsement by the union:
 I'm honored to receive the crucial support of 32BJ SEIU, representing some of the hardest workers in our city. I look forward to partnering to ensure excellent work conditions, pay and quality of life for all New Yorkers.
I asked Mr. Kellner last week for a comment regarding 32 BJ SEIU supporting Mr. Kallos but have not yet received a reply.

The Lenox Hill Neighborhood House held a City Council District 5 Candidates Forum yesterday.
I will have full video of the City Council District 5 Candidate Forum soon but here is the closing statement of Mr. Kallos

and fellow NYC Democratic Party City Council 5th District Candidate Ed Hartzog on economics/living wage. (Both videos via Ben Max,

Mr. Kallos has issued a policy book which his campaign describes as:
...containing goals in the City Council and areas of policy support. The book contains a vision for a more accountable and equitable local government, as well as steps he would take in the City Council to work towards such results in District 5 and citywide...
Assembly Member Kellner did not participate in the Lenox Hill Candidate's Forum yesterday. A spokesperson for Mr. Kellner explained:
... he's very sick, running a fever, and has practically lost his voice, as Lenox Hill Neighborhood House was informed earlier today. A televised debate for Manhattan Neighborhood Network, already taped, is airing on Aug. 28th at 8 pm, I think, and a live NY 1 debate is taking place on Tues., September 3, airing during the 7 pm hour and presumably being rebroadcast that evening during the 10:00 pm hour.
Based upon my anecdotal conversations with Roosevelt Island residents recently, Mr. Kellner remains very popular among his constituents here. Those sentiments are usually followed by "subject to nothing else comes out about the sexual harassment allegations".


billblass said...

This is good news

billblass said...

Its payback time the rich building owners have him in their pockets

billblass said...

I guess his next move will be to run for rioc. He fits right in

CheshireKitty said...

Kellner? Impossible since he doesn't live on RI. Also highly unlikely he'd be appointed by the Gov. since he's under the cloud of the ethics investigation.

CheshireKitty said...

I'm not surprised Kellner's support is evaporating. He has superior name recognition and funding no doubt, but now his name is also associated with a highly damaging sex scandal. I imagine he will place in the upcoming primary - but maybe not in first place.

CheshireKitty said...

Yes, I agree. Kellner is damaged goods, unfortunately for him. For us, it's fortunate that the news of his improper sexual overtures to one of his employees finally emerged - albeit 4 years after the complaint was filed at Shelly Silver's ethics panel.

The image of a supervisor or boss coming on to an employee - and actually admitting in writing he hired her for her looks, hoping to hit on her later if she didn't have a boyfriend - is highly unsavory.

It's insulting to the employee to say the least and must have caused her tremendous discomfort/anguish once the improper interaction occurred. This is the classic case of an employer trying to take advantage of his position as the employer to sexually harass an employee: Whenever it occurs, the employee is faced with the choice: Give in/keep the job, file a complaint - which will likely finish their chances of promotion or continuing to work in a "normal" as opposed to hostile work environment, or quit and once again go through the whole process of trying to find a job, which is not that easy in today's economy.

The employee in this instance complained - and it's been documented that she did face a hostile work environment subsequently.

Why did this employee have to go through all this travail, this mistreatment, at the hands of Kellner? Once she complained about his messages, it is clear that he made life miserable for her at his office in an effort to get her to quit. This is all highly unethical, wrong in so many ways.

All in all a sad story - I hope Silver's ethics panel finally rules on the complaint.

billblass said...

I wish we had barron On this island he would have saved affordable housing in eastwood. Keliner is in the owners pockets barron will not be a sell out

CheshireKitty said...

I agree, Barron wouldn't sell out. But how likely is it someone like Barron would emerge in our Assembly district? Barron represents Central Brooklyn - has a tremendous base of support, in an area where many constituents struggle. I don't see a politician like Barron gaining traction in Kellner's AD.

billblass said...

Yes you are right

CheshireKitty said...

If Kellner doesn't win the Council seat, he stays on as Assemblyman until the end of his term. He has said he doesn't want to run again for the Assembly. If Kellner wins and Kallos loses, maybe Kallos should run for Kellner's Assembly seat next year.

Janet Falk said...

Kallos has a thin résumé. His promotional flyer said his mother loves him. It was pathetic, not persuasive.

Kellner made a mistake four years ago. He apologized. Let's move on to discuss substantive issues.

Housing, protecting PS 217's class size, keeping an eye on encroachment by FDR Memorial Park, improving transportation services, bringing bike share to the Island, pressuring the next mayor to pressure the governor for elections to RIOC's board, accountability for PSD, among others.

The statute of limitations on Kellner's poor judgement has long since expired.