Since the last issue of the Juniper Berry, a number of events have transpired in Council District 30.
Councilman Dennis P. Gallagher was indicted on rape and assault charges stemming from a July 8th incident at his campaign office, located directly above his council district office. He says the sex act was consensual, his alleged victim says it was not. This column will not focus on the disputed aspects of the investigation. Instead, let's take a good look at undisputed facts of this case that have shed light on the character of our councilman.
Here is a man who, on an afternoon when he was supposed to be in church (at least that's what his campaign literature says he does on Sundays), spent his time at a bar located directly across the street from his home. Drinking hasn't been a crime since the Prohibition Era, but a pub really isn't a smart place for an elected official who claims to be a family man to be hanging out, especially not at an establishment within a stone's throw of the home he shares with his wife and two boys.
After bellying up to the bar, Gallagher brought a woman who was 9 years his senior back to his office. Neither party disputes this. However, what has gotten lost in the headlines is the fact that the councilman drove her there after spending the afternoon drinking ‒ a major lapse in judgment on Gallagher's part.
If the meeting was consensual as Gallagher claims, we'll find out soon enough whether safe sex practices were used. If not, this would have left Gallagher, his alleged victim and his spouse vulnerable to potential disease ‒ and would represent yet another major lapse in his judgment.
Dennis Gallagher foolishly failed to heed the advice of his attorney and testified before a grand jury on Wednesday, August 1st. The panel didn't believe him, and he was swiftly indicted on August 2nd. He appeared handcuffed before a judge at his arraignment on August 3rd, but walked home a free man after his brother posted bail for him. One newspaper reported that the Gallaghers are having financial difficulty and couldn't post the bail on their own, and public records seem to hint that this may be true. How is a councilman who rakes in a 6-figure salary ‒ when most of his constituents survive off of about half that much ‒ not able to hold onto his earnings? There is no doubt that it is due to more bad decisions on Dennis' part.
Gallagher hasn't authored any bills or won any victories for our communities since being re-elected in a one-candidate contest. Running unopposed meant that he wouldn't have needed to spend a lot of time fundraising or campaigning, so we have to wonder why he's been so lazy over the past few years. Instead of focusing his time and energy on helping the neighborhoods he represents, he has been busy attacking our organization and everyone else who is either not in agreement with him or friendly with us.
Even more disturbingly, Gallagher has continued to actively raise money despite making a promise to a constituent that he would not run for any public office after his council term expires. This was evidenced by Gallagher's lavish fund raiser held just this past May. In November 2005 he accepted a donation from now-indicted assemblyman Brian McLaughlin and kept the money despite accusations that McLaughlin stole from children's organizations. So what is all this fund raising for if Dennis isn't running for another office? Did he lie about his intentions, or is he planning to distribute his donations to other political allies?
JPCA President Robert Holden was the Vice Chair of Community Board 5. Board members have told us that Dennis Gallagher called them before the most recent election and pressured them to cast their ballots against Bob to ensure that he would not be re-elected to that position or retain a seat on CB5's executive board. As you are aware, Gallagher had previously removed Edward Kampermann and Tony Nunziato from the same board.
What goes around comes around. Just after making bail, Gallagher was stripped of all his committee memberships and reduced to plebe status by his colleagues on the city council. The council calls this action standard procedure. We call it karma. While Dennis has not stepped down, and still claims to 'represent' us in the secured corridors of city hall, he has been invisible in the community since the incident. While his nauseatingly contrived weekly photo ops in the papers will not be missed, it hurts our community further to have a councilman who has no presence in the district, as evidenced by his absence during the recent flooding.
Dennis also had a hand in the destruction of 185 trees on the St. Saviour's property. Councilman Tony Avella confirmed that Gallagher was well aware of the developer's plan and did nothing to stop it. In fact, we believe he may have been the one to order the action.
At the rally we held to protest the rape of the land, one neighbor yelled, Gallagher got the trees and then God got Gallagher! While this attendee's sentiment is understandable, the truth is that there is no one to blame but Dennis Gallagher for the predicament he is in. God gives us free will, and then leaves it up to us to make smart and just decisions. Dennis Gallagher admits to committing adultery in his office with a woman he picked up in a bar after an afternoon of consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, tales of Gallagher's drinking exploits in neighborhood bars are nothing new, are a major reason for the trouble he is in and may partially explain his irrational behavior over the past year-and-a-half. He has disgraced not only himself, but more importantly, he has disgraced his family and his constituency.
This past June, Gallagher told a group of grammar school principals he was honoring that the community appreciates their "passion for ... making sure [kids] are going in the right direction."
Ironically, part of those principals' duties now include making sure that kids don't head down the path taken by Dennis Gallagher ‒ someone who was supposed to have been a role model for them.
Thanks to Dennis Gallagher, our area now has zero representation in the city council. The man is completely ineffectual and will now be spending most of his time defending himself against felony charges on taxpayer-funded time. For the good of the constituents he was elected to serve, Dennis Gallagher should resign and allow someone who is not under a cloud of suspicion ‒ and actually wants to work ‒ to take over the responsibilities he has been evading for some time now.
Every other citizen of the city of New York already has this much. The communities of Council District 30 deserve no less.