By Howard Koplowitz
Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich is accusing City Councilman David Weprin’s (D-Hollis) Assembly campaign manager of intimidating northeast Queens civic leaders as he weighs whether to seek the same seat himself.
But the campaign manager, Corey Bearak, denied Friedrich’s claim and accused Friedrich of taking advantage of the civic leaders, who collectively signed on to a letter to the editor in a Queens weekly newspaper.
The assembly seat is being vacated by City Councilman-elect Mark Weprin once he takes his new office Jan. 1. The seat covers northeast Queens.
The exchange began when Fresh Meadows civic leader Marc Haken wrote in a letter to the editor earlier this month that “I will vote for David [for the Assembly] in the special election, and I know that all of those actively involved in civic and community activities will do so, also.”
That led Friedrich and 10 other civic leaders to sign a letter in response to Haken’s letter, saying Haken does not speak for them.
In an e-mail provided to TimesLedger Newspapers by Friedrich,Bearak wrote to Queens Colony Civic Association President Angela Augugliaro that “there was really no reason to sign on to this kind of letter,” referring to the letter from the 11 civic leaders.
Bearak said the letter “will be misinterpreted as opposing BOTH Weprins and the only way to get out of that may be to do a letter supportive of David.”
Friedrich, who is considering a run for the Assembly seat soon to be vacated by Weprin’s brother, Councilman-elect Mark Weprin, took that exchange as intimidation.
“The only interpretation of that statement is one of intimidation,” he said. “The letter [to the editor] was noncontroversial. It’s not a campaign letter, it’s not an endorsement letter. We simply said that Marc Haken does not speak for ourselves.”
Bearak said the e-mail, which he considered private, should not have been released by Friedrich and denied he was trying to intimidate anyone.
“First of all, two of the 10 civic leaders never heard from me, so to say I’m intimidating people is false,” Bearak said. “I think it is beyond the pale of Mr. Friedrich to take a personal e-mail and make it public.”
Bearak said the letters were only meant to tell “friends” that he believed they had been taken advantage of for selfish reasons on the part of Friedrich.
“He was using civic people to get at his opponent, and that’s inappropriate,” Bearak said.
Bearak also said there was no way for Friedrich to know of his intentions.
“I think the words [in the e-mail] speak for themselves and he wants to reinvent the English language? Well, he can’t,” Bearak said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.