Hakeem Jeffries: Principled Compromise

Looks like this election hinges on one thing: this Atlantic Yards thingie. This was an issue also in Bloomberg's reelection effort. It is some kind of a project I don't know much about. Bill Batson is against it. Hamilton is for it. Hakeem Jeffries wants a "principled compromise."

I plead ignorance. I don't know a whole lot. I am not too familiar with the local contours of what Hakeem is dealing with. But if I were to offer advice, it would be as follows.

(1) Really work on schmoozing. Shake many hands, say many hellos. Don't get too hung up on issues. Show your human face. Feel easy, make people feel easy. Come across as folksy. Down to earth, in touch. You are highly qualified. That is a plus. But you run the danger of coming across as bookish. Walk the streets. Have fun. Do some barbecue stuff.

(2) Right does not always win. My instinct says you have the most sensible stand on this Atlantic Yards thingie. You are not posturing. You are trying to make the best out of the situation. You want to work a compromise. But you run the danger of coming across as not strong enough, not willing to pick the fight. So do pick a few fights along the way. Don't leave the "principled compromise" plank. But do cite a few instances that might make you want to leave the plank and go anti-Yards. So that although it is "principled compromise," it is "principled compromise" from a position of strength. Also work to show that a blanket opposition to the project is not a position of strength but weakness, because that is like not having the guts to deal with the nuances. Be prepared to run an attack ad or two on that theme.

Summary: Appear folksy, appear strong. Lose your temper a few times if you have to, if you feel like it, don't restrain. Be easy on the smile.

Bill Batson

He walked over to shake my hand at the DFNYC event. (Dean, DFNYC, Daily Kos, Justin, Brooklyn, Nepal) I saw him again at the Mixer where Howard Dean showed. He comes across as a nice guy. But I got to throw in my lot with Jeffries. I am trying to stay on Leila Noor's good side! (Who Is Leecia Eve?)

Besides I genuinely like Hakeem. This guy is making a major financial sacrifice to make a trip to Albany. I like that. And he is so very highly qualified. He is part of the new breed of African American leaders who will give pound for pound in the merit department to any white competitor. He is so clearly part of the Obama Brigade. (Barack The Glass Walls, Ceilings, Smash 'Em)

It was at that Brooklyn event that Hakeem spoke the magic phrase: principled compromise. First time I heard it. And the second time I heard that something about him and his wife! This guy is more interested in getting things done than in posturing.

Hakeem Jeffries has this non politician style about him. He speaks soft. He is so obviously intellectually curious. He is constantly foraging for that next nugget in the conversation. And he is open to the possibility that nugget might come from you.

He oozes promise. He could go national down the line.

Obama Brigade

During my very first conversation with him Hakeem informed me of the new breek of black politicians emerging across the country. It is not enough for them to know of each other. There is a need for formal networking, perhaps an organization.

You rise together.


Every other black politician calls himself Barack these days.

If Barack Obama were to call you what would you say?

"Yeah, right? Barack Obama? If you are Barack Obama, I am Neil Armstrong."


DFNYC did not endorse Hakeem. I lost some respect for the organization. Granted the decision was through a vote, but that is no excuse.


"I am not African American, and I am not going to pretend I am, but I am blac," I told Hakeem at the first Hakeem event I showed up for.

I talked the same theme at an Asian Pacific American get together this weekend that was quite well attended. Rocky Chin organized it. One lady there knew Hillary, been in the White House in 1992.

I gave up on the chopsticks after about six tries. I asked for a fork. Blac is tricky.

I said let's use MySpace for networking, and everyone burst out laughing. My next suggestion was let's have more icebreakers, team building exercises, and everyone burst out laughing. I don't get it. What's funny?

On The Web

Hakeem Jeffries - New York Rising Star - 40 under 40| Crain's New ... grew up in a middle-class home in central Brooklyn ..... an eloquent and highly paid litigator for CBS Corp., which deploys him to tackle complicated cases and quash high-profile lawsuits. Two years ago, when CBS was part of Viacom Inc., he worked on the suit filed in Utah over Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction........ NYU Law School graduate ...... shocked the political establishment in 2000 by nearly defeating 20-year Brooklyn Assemblyman Roger Green....... Mr. Jeffries' residence was spitefully drawn out of the district, but, along with his wife and their two children, he moved back into it ...... Winning would mean a massive pay cut and a commute to dreary Albany Hakeem Jeffries - Moving Brooklyn Forward graduating from Midwood High School in 1988..... bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York, graduating with honors for outstanding academic performance in 1992. .. attended graduate school at Georgetown University, where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Public Policy in 1994. While at Georgetown University, he also worked in the administration of Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. ...... attended law school at New York University, where he was a member of the law review. .. graduated magna cum laude from NYU law school in 1997, finishing in the top 10 percent of his class and delivering the commencement speech at graduation. In 1998, he clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer, Jr. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. ...... Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an internationally renowned law firm, where he practiced law between February 1999 and December 2003........ continues to provide pro bono legal advice to neighborhood community groups, most recently in support of anti-displacement efforts in Central Brooklyn. ....... lives in Prospect Heights with his wife Kennisandra, a social worker, and their sons, Jeremiah, 4, and Joshua, age two.
SVA 2002 Supporters - Hakeem S. Jeffries for NYS Assembly
Why Gerrymandering Must Go (Gotham Gazette. February 14, 2005)
Gotham Gazette's Eye On Albany: New York State Assembly: District 57
The New York Observer Politicker: A Pay Cut for Public Office?
January 17, 2005
Atlantic Yards Report: Hakeem Jeffries: a tougher stand on ...placed a half-page ad in this week's Brooklyn Downtown Star, an "open letter in an attempt to continue the dialogue" about the Atlantic Yards project. Maybe he's been listening to constituents, maybe he needs to nudge closer to rival Bill Batson's anti-Atlantic Yards stance, or maybe he's just reframing his previous sentiments....... mainly as a housing program, not--as originally billed--"Jobs, Housing, and Hoops." ...... There is a housing crisis that is suffocating our neighborhoods. Without a signficant infusion of affordable housing, working families, the middle class and senior citizens will continue to be pushed out of Central Brooklyn. The Atlantic Yards project does have the potential to help alleviate our housing crisis by setting a high standard for the inclusion of affordable apartment units here and in future development.... projects, like this one, using public subsidies and on public land ...... I do not support the use of eminent domain by a private developer to build a basketball arena. ..... “If it’s necessary to create the jobs and housing, then I think we have to take a hard look at the arena,” said Jeffries. ..... The profit to the developer would come mainly from the market-rate housing: 2360 condos and 2250 rentals, not to mention solid revenue from the 2250 affordable rentals....... The proposed project is too dense and would dramatically change the character of the tree-lined residential neighborhoods that it borders. ...... 16 high-rise residential buildings ...... Moving forward, it is important that there is an open process and active public participation at every step, so that whatever is ultimately built is consistent with the neighborhood's values and aspiration...... As your elected representative, I will work day and night to bring about a principled resolution that both alleviates the affordable housing crisis and addresses the serious concerns raised in opposition to this project....... Another reason for the Jeffries' stance may be an effort to distinguish himself from the third candidate in the race, 57th Democratic District Leader Freddie Hamilton, who unequivocally supports the Atlantic Yards project.
Bill Batson
20 years of community-based, city and statewide activism ..... recently resigned from his post as New York State Senate Democratic Leader David A. Paterson’s Director of Community Relations ...... In 2001, Bill was campaign manager for Norman Siegel for Public Advocate..... first came to the 57th Assembly District in 1979 to attend Pratt University .... Bill is finishing his undergraduate degree at the City College’s center for worker education. View Bill's Artwork
Brooklyn’s Barack? Batson declares for Assembly, could block AY project
..... There’s a whiff of the Barack Obama phenomenon about Batson: the biracial “son of an immigrant from Kenya” (in the words of UAC’s Sidique Wai), who grew up in the 'burbs (Teaneck and Nyack) but has lived in Brooklyn (mostly) since he began studying art at the Pratt Institute in 1979. (He's been in the district for five years.) Behind him, his adoptive mother (black) stood proudly and, off to the side, his girlfriend (white) beamed........ “Bill will build bridges across the racial divide that unfortunately still exist in subtle and sophisticated ways,” declared Siegel ...... Batson later cited the need to bridge the gulf between Africans and African-Americans, as well...... Batson’s candidacy—however broad the issues he addresses—will be seen by some as a referendum on the Atlantic Yards project, which he opposes. That’s why a good handful of the three dozen or so supporters in attendance were from the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn coalition. The issue has salience: Siegel lost big to incumbent Betsy Gotbaum in last year's election, but he won the 57th AD.......... he's an excellent candidate for one-issue (Atlantic Yards) voters ...... Green, a staunch supporter of the project..... “It’s not about the names,” he added, thus avoiding mention of the other declared candidate, attorney Hakeem Jeffries, who ran a strong race against Green in the past and, as of February, had already raised nearly $60,000. (There was no talk yesterday of Batson's war chest.) Jeffries has called for a “principled compromise” regarding the Atlantic Yards plan. Batson’s unequivocally opposed...... a win in the Democratic primary is tantamount to election ..... The Obama comparison isn't quite fair--the Illinois Senator-to-be was a far more polished speaker when thrust upon the national stage ......... Over 40 million square feet of new… development has been approved in Downtown Brooklyn in the absence of a master plan..... this wave of development on steroids ...... the funds used in this development bonanza that could be used for schools or keeping hospitals open ...... we have more development than we can afford ..... "Forest City Ratner's development is only nine million square feet of the problem. I say nine million square feet too much." ....... “They call it blighted, and then they give away to somebody to come in and build a massive private development because it’s going to help us, to work as service workers there—I don’t think so” ..... Batson has made a practice of sketching people he notices on the subway
Atlantic Yards Report: Parsing Hakeem Jeffries' views on Atlantic ... Batson unequivocally opposes the Atlantic Yards project. Jeffries, according to a report Thursday in the Brooklyn Downtown Star headlined Jeffries Concerned About, But Not Opposed To, Yards, has more nuanced view. And a closer look at his statements suggests that his fence-sitting could easily migrate to support--especially given the clearer sentiments expressed in an article in the Courier-Life chain. ..... This issue has been threatening to divide people in the district along race and class lines. Bringing in 15,000 people into a community [Prospect Heights] that has only 19,000 already...I need to know how that's going to affect police, fire, sanitation, schools, all kinds of services. I have strong questions. ... Jeffries said there is a complex set of problems that the community faces when thinking about Atlantic Yards, including affordable housing and the massive unemployment among men of color between the ages of 18-35.
“You don’t just tackle these complex set of problems by saying, ‘yes you should build, or no, under no circumstances
........ some of the complex social ills that exist in central Brooklyn ....... Anyone making the case that this is a race about Atlantic Yards will first have to demonstrate that the election of Bill Batson will actually be able to stop what is an already runaway approval process. The incoming 57th Assembly member will have no vote on this project.
LID: Borough Politics May 3, 2004

In The News

Debate a Contrast of Styles Brooklyn Downtown STAR When it comes to contentious political issues in central Brooklyn, everybody knows about the Atlantic Yards project......... Batson and Jeffries are the clear frontrunners to succeed Roger Green's Assembly seat in the 57th District, but recently the female district leader, Freddie Hamilton, has entered the ring....... The two male rivals then refused to bait each other, and instead both lobbed a softball Hamilton's way....... On most local issues there is widespread agreement between the three candidates, except, of course, for the always-contentious Atlantic Yards proposal....... "I agree with Hakeem," said Batson. "I'd like to see more groups get involved with this process." ....... while Jeffries refrained from specifically criticizing Bruce Ratner, the mega-developer who proposed the Atlantic Yards process, Batson had no problem doing so. "I'm not saying anything about the good faith or the bad faith of this developer," hedged Jeffries, before explaining that he'd like to see better legal enforcement provisions in the contract either way.......


Anonymous said…
You wrote re Atlantic Yards: "It is some kind of a project I don't know much about." Then you should be wary about letting a candidate define "principled compromise."
Anonymous said…
Precisely. Hakeem is against the community on this one and he knows it.

There's a reason Bill Batson trounced him in the DFNYC endorsement vote-- maybe you should look into the issue a bit more and see what people who actually live in the distrcit think.