In Homestretch of NYC Primary, 1% Plays Dirty

Theodore Hamm Jun 18, 2021

Socialists want crime, vice and dirty streets. 

Such is the ultra-sophisticated messaging of the ads created by a developer-funded political action committee called Common Sense NYC, which has been spending big bucks to promote real estate allies and to smear DSA candidates. 

The leading funder of the PAC is Trump pal Steve Ross, developer of the Hudson Yards, an ultra-luxury project that has received $6 billion in public subsidies (state socialism, anyone?). “Horror on the Hudson” reads the headline of one architecture critic’s appraisal of Ross’ project. 

While Ross dumped $1 million into Common Sense, cosmetics heir Ron Lauder coughed up half that amount. In late 2019, Lauder launched a $25 million campaign dedicated to supporting pro-Israel candidates. It was directed by Bradley Tusk, who is now the main figure in Andrew Yang’s bid for mayor. Last year, Lauder dropped $1 million in his unsuccessful attempt to prevent New York Dems from gaining a super-majority in the State Senate. 

Let’s take a look at what Ross, Lauder and their fellow one-percenters are getting for their money in the current races for city council. 

Michael Hollingsworth is the DSA’s candidate to succeed Laurie Cumbo in the district that runs from Fort Greene to Crown Heights. As Indy readers know, Hollingsworth’s main opponent, Crystal Hudson, is clearly the real estate industry’s candidate in the race. 

In this mailer, Hollingsworth appears to be a one-man crime wave. 

Hollingsworth works full-time as a graphic designer (and campaigns at night and on the weekends), but in the mailer he is portrayed as a “professional rabble-rouser.” The flip-side warns that he “supports closing all jails, [and] putting all dangerous criminals on the street.”

But, as the original photo illustrates, Hollingsworth is a leading community activist, known particularly for his work with the Crown Heights Tenant Union. In the eyes of developers, tenant leaders are criminals. 

In reality, Alexa Avilés is an accomplished and dedicated parent activist and community board member in Sunset Park. But according to Common Sense, Avilés is a deranged public safety threat who wants to close schools just for the hell of it. 

Inverting what most reasonable observers would view as actual common sense, the mailer’s other side warns that Avilés wants to raise property taxes, which “threatens funding for our schools and public services.” 

The Afro-Latina couple shown in the photo would fit the demographics of Avilés’ district. But here they also appear to reside in Hollingsworth’s district. 

Candidates supported by Common Sense, including two competing with DSA-backed Brandon West to succeed Brad Lander in Park Slope-Carroll Gardens, seem destined to usher in a crime-free utopia. Ranked as “Quality of Life” choices one and two, Doug Schneider and Justin Krebs evidently are “the only two candidates committed to our safety and security.” 

It may come as a surprise, but the crime rate in Park Slope is not exactly out of control. 

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