Two âNice Guysâ
Take the Gloves Off
By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BAY RIDGE â Unlike previous debates between Republican Bob Capano and Democratic Councilman Vincent Gentile, which have been characterized by observers as debates between ânice guys,â the latest forum caught fire with raised voices and harsh disagreements between the two contestants.
The political fireworks display erupted at the annual Bay Ridge Community Council political debates on Tuesday evening, held at Xaverian High School. The event featured the 43rd City Council District candidates, as well as a borough president debate and the attendance of the Republican public advocate candidate without his Democrat counterpart.
âYouâve been presented with a stark contrast,â said incumbent Councilman Gentile at the end of the debate, after Capano, saying that Gentile âlives in the cocoon of elective officeâ and flung several charges at him, all of which Gentile strongly and at times angrily denied.
A big bone of contention was Gentileâs not renewing the appointment of longtime civic activist Harriet Rosenberg, wife of Judge Gerard Rosenberg, to Community Board 10 last year. âRosenberg should have gotten the courtesy and the respect on why she not re-appointed,â said Capano, mentioning another board member, Frances Loftus, who was not reappointed either. âHarriet shouldâve been given a phone call rather than reading about it in the newspapers.â
From the audience questions submitted, well-known local resident Phil Birnbaum asked Gentile, âYou talk about having new blood on the community board. Why shouldnât we elect Bob Capano as new blood?â
âThereâs a real difference between appointed and elective positions. Theyâre not the same. After a quarter of a century, itâs time to move on,â said Gentile about Rosenberg, who later formed Democrats for Capano. Capano, who lost against Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny last year, is also endorsed by the Conservative and Independent parties.
When Capano, who is endorsed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he supports the mayorâs current Age-Friendly Program for modernizing senior centers, Gentile fired back, âThe mayor wanted to cut senior services and close 80 centers citywide last year. Consolidating and closing is wrong. I fund 22 different senior centers, groups and services.â If re-elected, he said, his new seniority status would allow him to seek the chairmanship of the councilâs aging committee.
A question concerned the recent slush funds scandal on discretional monies distributed by council members. âFunds were used by Council Speaker Quinn to award council members,â said Capano. âMy opponent receives money for 12 organizations that got $113,000 in funds. I will take the politics out of the grant process. We need an independent voice that will not march in lockstep with Quinn.â
Raising his voice in anger, Gentile replied, âIâm not part of any slush or discretionary fund scandal. I fund active organizations such as this Bay Ridge Community Council and the Kassenbrock Brothers Memorial Scholarship Fund. I donât know what my opponent is talking about!â
The many city fines that have befallen veterans groups, such as more than $1,000 at the American Legion post on 78th Street, were a contentious issue that was addressed by a City Council bill. Capano told Gentile, âYou misread the bill.â Gentile snapped back, âBob, I read the bill on Fire Department fees. My opponent doesnât understand the veteransâ bill. I will step in and put a bill in that, once and for all, brings the veteransâ groups relief.â
The issue of effectively working with the mayor was raised several times, with Capano touting his Bloomberg endorsement. Gentile reminded him that the mayor has cooperated in helping to alleviate the stink that results from the Owls Head Water Pollution Treatment Plant, as he once promised at a Dyker Heights forum.
And with Capano citing his previous employment experience with Democrats like Borough President Markowitz, in the audience awaiting his debate Republican Marc DâOttavio, Gentile said, âI have the endorsement of Marty Markowitz.â
Â© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2009
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