Do you know about the Working Families Party? This radical, far-left party, co-founded by the New York chapter of ACORN, has become a big factor in New York politics. Bertha Lewis was head of ACORN when ACORN got caught helping citizens cheat on taxes and work out their prostitution problems. The Lewis crowd is strongly against charter schools and strongly for the development of massive low-income housing projects and much higher taxes on “the wealthy” in New York. Writing at National Review, John Fund outlines the Lewis/de Blasio tie in and the plight of New York.
Mayor de Blasio isn’t going to have to negotiate with Working Families, because he is in large part their creation. He helped found the party, used the discounted services of their grassroots organizers to win election to the city council in 2001, and then won the citywide office of public advocate with their backing in 2009. Their agenda might as well be his: a new city-wide “living” minimum wage, tax hikes on upper-income New Yorkers, requirements that developers build “affordable” housing units on a massive scale in exchange for building permits, tougher rent controls, retroactive wage hikes for public employees, and severe curbs on the growth of non-union charter schools.
“None of this should surprise anyone,” Steve Malanga, an urban-affairs expert for the Manhattan Institute, says of the party’s policies. Working Families, he points out, was founded in 1998 by hard-core union activists, from the Communications Workers of America, the United Federation of Teachers, and the New York chapter of the ACORN “community organizing” group.
New York political operative Bertha Lewis was the head of national ACORN when its employees were convicted of voter-registration fraud during the 2008 presidential campaign. She presided over its collapse in 2009 after a series of undercover tapes showed its employees in Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., giving advice on how to hide prostitution activities and cheat the tax system.
But now, thanks to de Blasio’s victory, she’s back in the saddle. “Bertha Lewis is one of the city’s most passionate and effective progressive leaders, and I’m proud to have worked with her for years,” de Blasio said during the 2012 campaign. On primary-election night last September, Lewis stood onstage next to de Blasio and told interviewers: “We’re baaaack. The right wing will have to deal with it.”
She was one of the privileged few who attended de Blasio’s private midnight inauguration at his house in Park Slope on New Year’s Day, and is busy seeding his administration with her operatives. “Our ties in the government run deep,” she boasts. She also makes clear de Blasio is on a tight leash: “When we disagree with Bill, we’re going to say it. We’re not letting people off the hook.”