Embattled Assemblyman Vito Lopez Says He’ll Resign, Seek City Council Seat
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Scandal-plagued Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez is stepping down from his seat next month, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says Lopez shouldn’t spend even another day in office.
And as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday, the Assembly will move on Monday to expel Lopez.
There was a “closed” signed on the door of Assemblyman Lopez’s district office in Williamsburg when Kramer first got there Friday. But it didn’t take long for an aide to come by and put down a steel curtain to prevent prying eyes from seeing inside.
Kramer: “Why are you putting this gate down?”
Aide: “I don’t have a comment, excuse me.”
Kramer: “How about his decision to resign?”
Not many people seem sorry about Lopez’s decision to leave the Assembly on June 20, the last day of the legislative session. There has been no love lost for the one-time Brooklyn power broker ever since he paid $103,000 to settle sexual harassment claims that gave new meaning to his tabloid nickname, “Gropez.”
“People should never vote for him. He got proved for abusing girls. It makes no sense,” Julio Tapia of Williamsburg said.
MORE: Read Resolution (pdf)
In announcing his resignation, Lopez pulled an amazing bait and switch. He was facing expulsion from the Assembly next week for his dastardly deeds, so he resigned to run for City Council. Really.
“I expect to run a vigorous campaign on the issues facing the citizens of my community,” Lopez said in a statement “and hope to continue to serve them in the City Council.”
Assembly Speaker Silver said he’s still going to have the lower house vote to expel him, and the move is backed up by two of Lopez’s victims, Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera.
Their lawyer, Kevin Mintzer, said, “Ms. Burhans and Ms. Rivera believe that Mr. Lopez’s many victims deserve an immediate vote on his expulsion. All members of the Assembly should be on the record about whether they will tolerate his behavior.”
When asked about the potential of voting for Lopez for City Council, Williamsburg resident Val Mesrin said, “No, definitely not” and when pressed why, “the sex scandal” was the answer.
“No, I wouldn’t vote for him,” another resident said.
“I would vote for him. I know him over 20 years. He’s always there to help,” added Luz Pena of Williamsburg.
“I don’t know what he’s waiting for, just holding on as long as he can, I guess,” one man told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.
“He got to go. If what they’re saying is true, he has to go,” said another.
“It’s crazy, wanting to stick around. Nobody likes him and what he’s being accused of, he should just go home,” said still another.
One woman said he throws great block parties, but she’s been hearing about claims of harassment for years.
Lopez is banking on his constituents to support his bid, but Council Speaker Christine Quinn said his actions should drive all New Yorkers to come out and help support his opponent, Antonio Reynoso.
Reynoso called on Lopez to drop his campaign, saying he does not deserve to the privilege of representing Brooklyn and queens on the council.
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