Brooklyn Councilman Simcha Felder, embraces the Hebrew meaning of his first name, happiness, by using humor to fight public nuisances.
In January, Felder, a Democrat, introduced the ‘Gotcha Bill’ to advocate that people who park their cars in alternate-side zones as well as at municipal meters should be given a “five-minute grace period” before being issued a parking ticket.
Felder also responded to calls from homeowners who faced huge fines for littering at times when they were at work. Many homeowners had cried foul and claimed the tickets were doled out en masse to raise revenue, rather than for enforcement of sanitation regulations.
“I sponsored legislation that was subsequently signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg, which limited the hours that tickets could be issued to between eight and nine in the morning and six and seven at night,” he said.
“I support Felder’s ‘Gotcha Bill’ because it’s meant to save people money. I also support his plan to fine people for feeding pigeons and to give pigeons birth control because many parts of Borough Park are covered with pigeon droppings,” said Galina Vaynman, 54, who plans to vote to re-elect Felder.
“He’s a ‘people person’ and whenever I’ve seen him on television or heard him on the radio, he’s made me laugh.”
As a result of the recent term-limits extension, Felder, an Orthodox Jew often described as the funniest City Councilman, will seek re-election. At this time, he is one of few lawmakers who are unopposed.
Despite being voted “Funniest Councilman” by his colleagues in a City Hall News poll, there are his constituents who don’t find some of his bills funny.
“I don’t agree with Felder’s proposal to fine people who feed pigeons. Pigeons are God’s creatures and we should help the animals. Perhaps Felder should focus on more important things like people who drink alcohol and go to the bathroom outside,” said Limor Grobman, 23, a Borough Park resident.
Others feel he is doing a fine job.
Eli Berger, 49, the owner of Linick’s Toys in Borough Park said, “Felder is always around. He’s out there for us. He does what’s right. Not what’s popular. He’s a ‘mensch’ with good sense of humor-even his concession speech when he lost for State Senate was funny.”
Even though he is currently unopposed, he is in a soft campaign mode utilizing new campaign methods.
He maintains a website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Flickr online photo album. Still he believes “the best way to campaign is to reach out to voters and speak with them face-to-face.”
“Keeping my finger on the pulse of the district has always been a major priority, and I’ve found that doing so is both the best way to represent my district and to stay in office,” he added.