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Seabrook surrenders committee

Storm-battered Councilman Larry Seabrook resigned as chairman of the City Council’s civil rights committee but clung to his primary post on Thursday, February 11, as some former challengers circled like so many bloodthirsty sharks.

Seabrook pled not guilty to extortion and fraud charges on Tuesday, February 9 in response to a 13-count federal indictment. Allegedly, the third-term northeast Bronx councilman raided City Hall’s coffers for friends and family.

Seabrook has taken on water, so to speak. But he and attorney Murray Richman hope to weather the storm. Richman quizzically absolved Seabrook of any wrongdoing on February 9.

“He’s a survivor,” educator and former 12th Council District challenger Johnnie Goff said. “I don’t know if he’s going to lose his seat.”

Seabrook surrendered a $10,000 lulu when he resigned as committee chairman, but the gesture hardly satisfied former 12th Council District challenger Jerome Rice. More than a year ago, Rice confronted Seabrook on the street and posted a video online.

Seabrook had voted to extend City Council term limits from two to three terms. “Misappropriation of funds! Term limits!” Rice shouted.

Rice finished well behind Seabrook and challenger Andy King in the September 2009 Democratic primary. On Saturday, February 13, he returned to Seabrook’s office on White Plains Road. The indictment has substantiated Rice’s “deepest fears” and will harm the northeast Bronx, he said.

“I want Larry to step down immediately,” Rice fumed. “I’m going to put on the pressure.”

Although Goff and former 12th Council District challenger Andy King have diplomatically yet to join Rice on the attack, both confirmed that they’d run in a special election if Seabrook were to resign.

Former 12th Council District challenger and Harriet Tubman Democratic Club president Algernon Quattlebaum has fielded phone call after phone call from distressed Seabrook constituents, he said.

The councilman is also the male Democratic district leader in Co-op City. Quattlebaum hopes to address constituents’ fears, possibly in a town hall meeting, he said. Rice, for one, is concerned that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will lock Seabrook and the 12th Council District out when funds are distributed, he remarked.

“These are serious charges,” Rice said. “There is no way [Seabrook] can do his job.”

The Co-op City resident asked why some former challengers have held back.

“When you remain quiet, you’re part of the problem,” he said.

Goff ended her 2009 campaign early and endorsed Seabrook, who later tapped her to head the new Northeast Bronx Education Commission.

“I supported [Seabrook] as he worked for the good of the schools,” Goff said. “I wanted to see our schools get new libraries and science labs.”

Seabrook could not be reached for comment.

Some City Hall insiders expect the feds to haul in Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo next.

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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