July 14, 2020 Editorial
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has gone AWOL.
He has not answered one question put to him this year by the Queens Post publications—after nearly 10 years of quick responses and lengthy statements.
The Queens Post ran an article Jan. 20 covering the borough president debate that was held in Sunnyside. The article contained some strong accusations leveled against him by Donovan Richards.
Richards challenged Van Bramer’s anti real estate stance–saying that it was prompted by the emergence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and that he had taken hefty contributions from the real estate industry for years.
He also said that Van Bramer had supported the Queens County Democratic Machine at times, despite saying he staunchly opposed it.
Our reporter naturally researched Richards’ arguments and reported on them.
She found that Van Bramer had taken tens of thousands of dollars from big real estate developers for many years, while noting that the council member stopped accepting them in 2018.
Additionally, our reporter revealed that Van Bramer had contributed large sums in 2017 to support candidates who were part of the Queens County Democratic machine. She also noted that he backed Joseph Crowley, the leader of the so-called machine, in 2018 when he ran against Ocasio-Cortez.
Van Bramer has ignored the publication ever since that article ran. E-mails and texts to his staff have not been acknowledged.
E-mails last week to Van Bramer’s staff asking him about an anti-Semitic incident in Woodside were ignored.
E-mails asking him about his thoughts pertaining to the development plans in Long Island City–ignored.
Constant texts to Van Bramer’s chief of staff Matt Wallace, who the publication has had a good relationship with for many years, have been unanswered.
Last week, a young freelance reporter of ours looking to launch a writing career managed to get through to Van Bramer. The reporter, 18 years of age, asked him for comment concerning a Sunnysider who had established an outdoor library on Skillman Avenue.
Van Bramer’s response to the reporter: “Yeah… it’s not personal to you. I made a decision in January to not respond to anything from the SP [QueensPost].”
The Jan. 20 article that drew Van Bramer’s ire also detailed the campaign contributions Donovan Richards had received from the real estate industry and his associations with the Queens County Democratic machine.
Richards, unlike Van Bramer, has responded to e-mails and provided statements to the publication since.
Van Bramer is a civil servant and has a responsibility in a healthy democracy to answer to the press. He shouldn’t pick and choose who he responds to based on whether a publication puts him in a good light on not.
The publication has been very complimentary to him over the years. There have been many stories about the good work he has done to bring schools to the district, revamp local parks and combat discrimination.
The publication even honored him at our 10 year anniversary party in December, which he attended.
The role of the Queens Post, however, is not to be a cheerleader for Van Bramer. Our role is to report the news good or bad.
Van Bramer might read this and attack the publication. He might look at the comment section (which is no different than what’s on social media) and attack us for it—despite having never done so in the past 10 years.
Maybe he will claim fake news. Who knows.
We hope, however, he takes the high road and addresses these findings– or at the very least responds to the publication in the future.
The publication is owned and operated by two immigrants– one from the Philippines and the other from New Zealand– and our goal is not to create division.
We just want to report the local news and try to let the community know what’s going on like we always have. However, in doing that, we are dependent on our leaders to step up and provide us with the information needed in order to do so.
Czarinna Andres and Christian Murray, co-publishers of the Queens Post.