The former city councilman from Brooklyn was elected in November 2012 to the State Senate, defeating incumbent Republican state senator David Storobin. Felder ran as a Democrat, but within days of being elected, he decided that he had more in common with his Republican counterparts and intended to caucus and vote with them.
Far from an idealogical move, the party change was likely a savvy business and political move, as Republicans control the State Senate in Albany (for now) and nothing moves without their blessing.
So by aligning with the forces that be, Felder was ensuring more of a say in the state legislature, even if the move was described by Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio as a “disgrace and a complete betrayal of his constituents.”
Felder represents a portion of south Brooklyn that has a large Orthodox Jewish population. Felder himself is a devout Orthodox Jew - his father was the spiritual leader of the Beth Aaron Congregation in Borough Park - and that is far more important to a majority of his constituents than whether or not he believes in “Democrat” or “Republican” party values.
So we doubt that it is going to bother Felder much from a political standpoint that he was named one of the most environmentally unfriendly Albany lawmakers by a group called EPL/Environmental Advocates, who “honored” Felder with their Oil Slick Award.
The group specifically highlighted Felder's support of a bill that would have blocked communities across New York State from taking action to reduce plastic bag waste.
The legislation was intended to prevent the city from imposing its own five-cent fee on plastic bags that the de Blasio administration tried to implement. In announcing its selection of Felder for the Oil Slick Award, the group said the measure was “essentially transferring the Senate's dysfunction on to local governments.”
You could say that “dysfunction” is only made worse when voters elect a Democrat to even out the power of balance in Albany, only to have him or her switch their party affiliation to align with the controlling party.
But who would be crazy enough to do that!
We doubt Felder is losing any sleep over the Oil Slick Award, just another one for the trophy case.
And in case you were wondering, the only city elected official to fail the group environmental scorecard was Assemblyman Ronald Castorina of Staten Island who despite, as the group argues, represents a district ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and in turn climate change, voted against climate action legislation.