Sept. 16, 2019 By Allie Griffin
In a scathing open letter, the newly appointed co-chair of the Queens branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) denounced Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer as a fake progressive and denied his apparent request to meet last week.
Co-chair of the Queens DSA Jonathan Bailey wrote an open letter to the council member on Medium on Sept. 12, stating “We don’t have anything to discuss Jimmy” in the title.
According to a screenshot of an email in the letter, Van Bramer had asked Bailey to meet up and talk about the proposed borough jail plan, stating he doesn’t like the plan.
However, Bailey speculated Van Bramer was really just pitting for a DSA endorsement for the Queens Borough President race.
“I have been trying to stay off your radar because I was afraid that if you realized that I was the new Co-Chair of Queens DSA it might make it clear how unenthusiastic we are about the idea of endorsing you,” Bailey wrote in the open letter.
Bailey went on to name several reasons why the council member lost his support, such as when he signed on to a letter calling on Amazon to come to Queens. Van Bramer, however, was an outspoken critic of Amazon when the tech giant announced it was coming to Long Island City.
“I know you have been trying to cozy up with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tiffany Cabán, but that doesn’t make you our comrade,” he wrote. “You sold out Queens when you welcomed Amazon’s gentrification as a kickback for your real estate donors.”
The DSA has become increasingly powerful in borough politics, as western Queens has swung further left in recent elections, including with Ocasio-Cortez’s and Cában’s campaigns.
Its Queens Co-Chair said he and Van Bramer had nothing in common when it comes to politics.
“I don’t believe we share any values in common,” Bailey said. “I think you realize that there has been an increase in peoples class awareness and you are now in a poor situation because you built a political career off of the interests of corporations happy to exploit Queens residents and colonize people of color.”
However in a statement, the councilman said he has been fighting the established politicians in the borough and has endorsed liberal candidates in the past.
“I’ve been fighting the Queens machine and standing up for working families my entire life. It took me three attempts to finally beat the county candidate for Council, and I’ve never backed down since, whether it’s being the first Queens elected official to endorse Tiffany Cabán for D.A. or defying Joe Crowley in the Speaker’s race,” Van Bramer said. “I’m proud to run on my record. In this incredibly diverse borough every vote matters, and I’m excited to make my case.”
According to reports, Bailey served as campaign manager for a two-time political opponent to Van Bramer, David Rosasco.
The council member even mentioned the bad blood between Bailey and himself in his email, according to the screenshot Bailey shared, stating “I know we have issues but I was wondering if you would agree to meet up with me soon to talk in person.”
The city-wide co-chair of the DSA, Bianca Cunningham told the New York Daily News that Bailey’s letter wasn’t the official stance of the group. She told the paper that it didn’t go through the correct protocol and voting process to be an official position of the DSA.
“Regardless of whether or not people agree with the views, it’s just not an endorsed statement by the chapter.”