As the size of government at all levels grows, so does obscurity and lack of accountability. Most unfortunately, what goes on under layer upon layer of bureaucracy affects us all, mostly in negative ways.
We can choose to accept the status quo and do the best we can to avoid the fallout, or we can actively fight for transparency and accountability.
One such fighter is Erik Frankel of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York.
Erik Frankel sells shoes. His store, Frankel’s Shoe Co., has been in his family since 1890. According to Yelp, Frankel’s Shoe Co. supplies most of New York construction workers, iron workers, and utility workers with their safety toe shoes and clothes. He has shared his knowledge and experience with workers in Vietnam, Myanmar, China.
Upon returning to the U.S., Frankel seems to have had an epiphany – small businesses, workers, communities are all in danger of falling victim to obscure bureaucracies that claim to help but do nothing but hinder. So he ran for a seat in his district’s Council.
Frankel wasted no time doing his homework as to who his main opponent was, and how in his view, she was a strong spoke in a bureaucratic wheel. Alexa Aviles managed the huge portfolio of the non-profit Scherman Fund. The fund distributed money to various progressive groups locally and nationally.
Then Ms. Aviles ran for a spot in Council District 38 – with endorsements and support from receivers of her largess?
It goes without saying that with high-profile endorsements Alexa Aviles won the race with 9,228 votes vs. Erik Frankel’s 2,209. Interestingly, though, that 2,209 votes was a strong showing, given that the other opponents of Alexa Aviles each received 1 to 3 votes.
The Founding Fathers had a point – folks running the country should do it out of patriotism not necessity. A politician needs to get elected by any means necessary to put food on his family’s table. A store owner does not.
Now, Erik Frankel is running for Congress. Stay tuned.
The Just Vote No Blog recommends Erik Frankel’s opinion piece of October 15, 2021, regarding his run for City Councilmember. His op-ed appeared on Star Review, a paper serving several Brooklyn neighborhoods. Please read on:
Is Aviles Conflicted?
The Scherman Fund is a huge non-profit fund with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, including millions invested in hedge funds, some in the Cayman Islands.
As Program Director, Alexa Aviles managed a portfolio in the tens of millions. She was given a mission to spread the money around to various progressive groups in New York and around the country.
During her tenure, she oversaw donations to numerous organizations in Brooklyn, including key grass roots groups in Sunset Park and Red Hook within District 38.
Ms. Aviles has yet to explain how, as a socialist and a member of the DSA, she justified working for a non-profit largely engaged in investing in the very same capitalist institutions she reviles. It turns out, it was worth it for her.
The Scherman Fund’s 990 tax forms from 2018 show a series of large donations to one organization, Make The Road New York. $200,000 in two contributions for “Sanctuary NYC Campaign” and another $25,000 for “Get Out The Vote”. The 2018 form also shows $40,000 to the Red Hook Initiative for “RedHookFarms”.
It’s no wonder Make The Road’s action committee felt the need to endorse Alexa in the Democratic primary in June. The irony is Ms. Aviles was in charge of the Governmental Transparency and Accountability program at the Scherman Fund. Ms. Aviles clearly was thinking about her run for a long time. She wanted to make sure potential backers knew she means business. Especially in a crowded field with a number of qualified candidates.
While she champions her record as an educational activist and her time as a PTA member, she really has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars, first as a consultant, then at a politically beneficial job as program director of an influential charity.
While we don’t expect to hear from the Aviles campaign on this, we encourage them to at least respond with a statement for the public’s sake. We are running a campaign based on transparency, something that is desperately needed in District 38 where third party groups and the community board have provided anything but.
Our opponent is running with the support of all the very same institutions that have stifled growth in Sunset Park and Red Hook for years. They claim to be for environmental justice and housing justice but have failed to deliver for the working people of the district. They want affordable homes and good paying jobs,not empty promises and continued gentrification.
We’re running a campaign to provide an alternative to the status quo which, despite her radical leanings, Ms. Aviles will continue to represent. We call on her campaign to release the Scherman fun’s 990 tax forms for 2019 and 2020 which are unavailable to the public. We ask them, for transparency’s sake, to reveal if any of the money went to groups which then backed her bid.