Sunday, 25 August 2013

Mayor of New York

The papers came out with their endorsements this weekend. Here are mine.

For Mayor: Bill de Blasio

I had a hard time settling on this guy because he has some demagogic tendencies that I dislike. His grandstanding over St Vincent’s hospital was over the top given that he had no visibility on the issue until election time. Perhaps that’s not entirely his fault, but getting arrested over the possible shutdown of another hospital in Brooklyn a few weeks back was equally grandiose and looked crass. Nonetheless, he’s pushed the hospital/health care access issue back to center stage in the mayoral race where it should have been in the first place. He’s good on police abuse, good on the growing income divide, and strikes a defiant tone, which might indicate that he means business. Hard to say, but our best bet.

The other candidates have slowly self-eliminated as possibilities, starting with Quinn who reminded us this past week that she is a Bloomberg clone who only recently started to move out from under his dominance because she needed to look NOT like a Bloomberg clone. She got religion at the very last minute on stop & frisk and allowed that vote to come forward because there is a strong consensus now in the city to put a stop to it. But she keeps repeating that Ray Kelly should continue as police chief, which means her sudden change of heart on his policies is phony. It’s too bad because Quinn is not a dummy, and it would be cool to have an out, married lesbian as mayor. But she allowed herself to get pulled too far into Bloomberg’s orbit, and we’re done with the both of them.

Bill Thompson seemed like a respectable possibility, but over the past few weeks he’s made unsettling noises, moving to the right even of Quinn in some cases. His alliance with Republican godfather Al d’Amato is creepy. And where has he been while Bloomberg went hog-wild for the last four years? Thompson ran against him in 2009 and did remarkably well despite being outspent by gazillions to one. His low profile suggests he was just waiting around trying not to make anyone mad so he could come back now. Next.

John Liu was my early favorite, and he has a good record as city comptroller in uncovering corrupt practices under Bloomberg. But he ran into a campaign finance scandal early on and sank into last place. His team’s actions were illegal, and they got caught. But it felt like a set-up, which would make sense if the people Liu exposed had powerful friends. He stayed in the race and could be an interesting force in the future given the city’s growing Asian population. But now that he’s not a contender, and the race is very tight at the top, I’m saving him for later.

Then there’s Anthony Weiner.

For City Comptroller: Elliot Spitzer

I’ve written about this one before, and the only thing left to add is how interesting it has been to see all the Democratic establishment line up against Spitzer and to support inoffensive Scott Stringer, the bland career pol who thought no one wanted this glorified auditor job and decided to go for it when it became clear he was too minor leagues for the mayoral slot. I saw Stringer speak at a fund-raiser a while back, and he’s a perfectly nice bureaucrat and as inspiring as a Methodist sermon. Spitzer is a threat to the big boys, and they know it. We want him. Badly.

For Public Advocate: Leticia James

This is de Blasio’s current job, and it comes with almost no budget and little clout. But it’s a platform to stir the pot from, and obviously a stepping stone to grander, city-wide things. James is the Brooklyn councilwoman featured in the film, Battle for Brooklyn, where she clearly sided with the urban planning advocates against the developer mafias. She’s been term-limited out of her council seat and is making a move for a larger audience. Her main opponent is Daniel Squadron, another seed from the Chuck Schumer Tree of Sleaze. Squadron seems all right, but then again so did Anthony Weiner who came from the same place. If Schumer is for it, I’m agin’ it.

For Manhattan Borough President: Robert Jackson

A whole slew of unknowns are battling for this spot, also largely ceremonial. I encourage people to vote for my outgoing city councilman, Robert Jackson. I see a lot of these guys at local events, and you can quickly tell who has an original take on things, thinks strategically, and goes to bat for the community. Jackson represents uptown where all the poor people live, and his opponents, while apparently worthy community activists, come from neighborhoods where average rents are in the 3-4K range and sometimes a lot more. Nuff said.

Primary votes are notoriously poor for turnout, so a few people paying attention can make a big difference. With the Democratic margin so overwhelming, and no one of interest on the other party lines, this Sept. 10 vote should be the definitive one. There are some real choices here; let’s act.

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