Staten Island Democrat Claims He Lost Party Post Because Of His Age

By Nicholas Rizzi on March 12, 2014 1:05pm 

 Robert Castro, 62, former North Shore District leader for the Staten Island Democratic party, claims he was let go from the executive committee because of his age and working on a rival campaign. The party said he was let go because of poor work performance.
Robert Castro, 62, former North Shore District leader for the Staten Island Democratic party, claims he was let go from the executive committee because of his age and working on a rival campaign. The party said he was let go because of poor work performance.
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Richard Luthmann

PORT RICHMOND — A Democrat from Staten Island claims he lost his party post because of his age and has started to rally support for the chairman to resign.

Robert Castro, 62, of Port Richmond, said he was asked to step down as North Shore district leader for the Staten Island Democratic Party and was offered a position as the Hispanic Outreach coordinator for the party — but the promised spot never was given to him, the Staten Island Advance first reported.

However, party chairman John Gulino denied the ageism allegation and said Castro was let go because of poor performance.

Castro hit back by saying Gulino should step down because he's "very shallow, very Italian."

In January, Castro was sent a letter by Gulino saying that his membership in the committee was terminated so the party could "seize the opportunities, energy and ideas our younger generations offer," according to the letter.

"It's ridiculous that you shouldn't be older than 60, that's what they told me," Castro said. "I worked my ass off for these people, I really believed in the party, for them to remove me like a child."

Castro said another reason for his dismissal was the fact he worked on Richard Luthmann's unsuccessful borough president campaign instead of the party pick Lou Liedy, who eventually lost last year's race to Republican James Oddo.

"They took it to a personal level not to a professional level," Castro said.

Gulino — who is in his 70s — denied the allegations in a statement and said Castro's claims are "patently false and lack factual basis."

He said Castro was let go not because of age or support of Luthmann, but because of poor performance.

"Serving as a member of the executive committee is a privilege for individuals who have worked tirelessly to strengthen the party," Gulino said in a statement.

"When an individual does not meet that standard, but tries to undermine the Democratic Party and its values, they are relieved from their position."

"It's such a non-story," a party source told DNAinfo New York. "(Castro's) accusing someone older than him of age discrimination."

According to the source, over half of the members of the executive committee are over 60.

Castro was promoted to Hispanic Outreach Coordinator in early January, but the source said Castro made no contributions in his new position and stopped attending party events for the entire year before he was let go.

The source also denied claims that Castro was let go because of his support of Luthmann and said members who supported John Mancuso's in the City Council primary instead of Mendy Mirocznik were still on the board.

Castro, who has enlisted the help of Luthmann, said he was never officially given duties or the title of Hispanic outreach coordinator for Luthmann, but the BP candidate said he worked tirelessly on the recent campaign trail regardless.

"There never was any communication of what his job responsibilities were," Luthmann said. "Bob just kept on going along. It's ludicrous to say his job performance was poor."

This week, the pair sent out a robocall to every registered Democrat in the North Shore about the situation, sent out emails and are planning to visit various political clubs in the borough. The party source said as far as they know it, the duo have been unsuccessful in drumming up support in the club for any action.

Luthmann said they're not ruling out legal action against Gulino, but are trying to resolve the situation through other methods first.

For his part, Castro called on Gulino to be removed from his post to help the party move forward.

"We need a fresh chairman, apparently he seems to be very shallow, very Italian, very Sicilian," Castro said.

"He has such bitterness and anger at certain individuals that he'll take it to the extreme."

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