In Vito Lopez Saga, Resignation is Not Enough

After Assemblyman Vito Lopez resigned from his seat on Monday following allegations of sexually harassing young women on his staff, the community and ethnic media is weighing in on the once-powerful Brooklyn politician’s fall from grace.

In a scathing opinion column published in El Diario-La Prensa, Zenaida Méndez deplored that Lopez, 71, has not been further prosecuted.

Assemblyman Vito López’s should be prosecuted for sexual harassment and his chances of being elected to the City Council don’t look good, reports the ethnic and community media. (Photo by Azi Paybarah, Flickr Creative Commons License)

It’s inconceivable that, after the state of New York paid two women more than $100,000 in public money to settle a claim of sexual harassment, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan hasn’t found enough proof to formally accuse Assemblyman Vito Lopez of a crime. (…)

This is a serious matter for many reasons. In 2013, a woman still can’t feel completely safe in her workplace. In this case, I’m sure that the women who found a job with Assemblyman Vito Lopez believed that if there was ever a place where they would be respected and protected, it was the office of an elected official.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle examines whether Lopez, who claims he was resigning not because of the charges, but to run for City Council in the 34th District in Brooklyn, has any chances of winning the Williamsburg/Bushwick seat.

Lopez’ main opponent is Antonio Reynoso, chief of staff for Councilwoman Diana Reyna (currently on leave). He has a professional-looking website featuring a high-powered list of endorsements, some of which include the United Federation of Teachers, Local 1199 SEIU, the Working Families Party, and three Democratic mayoral hopefuls – Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio and John Liu.

The article, by Raanan Geberer, reports that according to official sources, by Monday, Reynoso had raised $86,764, boasting a wide array of contributors.

On the other hand, a “Lopez for City Council” site was not visible on the internet yesterday. Lopez had raised $38,393 as of Monday. Among his supporters were retirees, several attorneys, a manager at Giando’s in Williamsburg, an official at Bushwick United Head Start and his longtime girlfriend, Angela Battaglia. The biggest contribution, $2,500, was from Lopez himself.

The article also interviews different pundits who delve into the resignation’s impact for the city and the state.

Political science Professor Doug Muzzio of Baruch College called the resignation “partial deodorizing” of scandal-plagued Albany.

“Albany needs a more extensive and permanent disinfectant,” he said Saturday.

“It’s a good thing for the state, the Assembly and the people of Brooklyn that he resigned,” said Richard Brodsky of the Wagner School of New York University, who also served with Lopez and Silver in the Assembly.

Another Brooklyn outlet, The Home Reporter News, interviews Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio and Councilman Stephen Levin, who both discourage Lopez from running for City Council.

The article, by Heather J. Chin, includes a statement by his prospective rival Reynoso:

“By virtue of his repeated sexual misconduct and criminal activity, Vito Lopez clearly does not deserve to hold public office.

“Criminals, serial harassers and sexual predators don’t get to call their own shots on when they go to jail,” said Reynoso. “The bottom line is this: a publicly condemned criminal does not deserve the public trust, nor the privilege of representing Brooklyn and Queens in the City Council or the State Assembly. He must drop his campaign immediately, and begin looking for ways to right the wrongs he has inflicted on the people of this city.”

(Editor’s Note: This article has been amended to reflect that the piece in El Diario-La Prensa was not an editorial but an opinion column by Zenaida Méndez.)

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  1. Pingback: Scandals, Upsets and ‘Firsts’ in Council Races | Voices of NY

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