Vol. 18, No. 21 Nov. 3 - 16, 2005


In the Public Interest

Race Wraps Up
As the mayor’s race enters its final stretch, the fight between incumbent Michael Bloomberg and former borough president Fernando Ferrer still seems rather lackluster. “It doesn’t appear to be much of a race at the moment,” said Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who is supporting Ferrer despite often being at odds with the borough’s Democratic machine.

The two candidates finally squared off in a debate last Sunday, with Ferrer more on the offensive. He attacked Bloomberg on issues like education, housing, the economy and the city’s failed Olympics bid. “I certainly would not have confused an economic development program with globetrotting for the Olympics,” said Ferrer, referring to Bloomberg’s many trips in promoting the bid.

But most signs indicate that Ferrer’s chances next week are dim. “I read the polls,” Dinowitz said. “The majority of Democrats are behind Bloomberg. Based on people I’ve spoken with … he’s going to win in my area.”

Even Ferrer’s efforts to pull out big political guns have done little. Former president Bill Clinton appeared with Ferrer in Morrisania last month, but the photo-op did not go as hoped. The event in was marred by an inadequate sound system — further hindered by the placement of reporters behind rows of kids — and only one mention of Ferrer’s name by Clinton. Ferrer has also appeared with U.S. Senator John Edwards, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, and black activist Jesse Jackson.

But the long list of city officials and organizations who have endorsed Bloomberg has diluted the pull of national Democrats. Many Democratic Council members, unions and churches, along with almost every large city paper, are all supporting the incumbent.

Ferrer spent his last weeks campaigning on the issue of the divide between the poor and rich in New York, a theme used in his 2001 mayoral bid. “We have grown farther and farther away from each other in this city of possibility,” said Ferrer in a Bronx speech.

But that appeal doesn’t seem to be resonating this time. “Mike Bloomberg has moved this city forward and now is not the time to change direction,” said Rev. Albert Sutton, head of a large Baptist church in Highbridge, during an endorsement event.

Voting Information
The general election for mayor and other city positions takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. You must already be registered. For more information, including poll locations, contact the city Board of Elections at (212) VOTE-NYC or visit them on-line at

In the mayor’s race, Republican incumbent Michael Bloomberg faces Democrat Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president. Six minor party candidates are also running (one of whom is on the “Rent is Too Damn High” ticket). The Democratic incumbents for public advocate and city comptroller are not facing Republican challengers.

Opponents of the borough president and local Council members all pose weak challenges. Council Member Oliver Koppell is running against Republican Steve Bradian, and Joel Rivera faces Republican Steven Stern. Maria Baez has no Republican challenger. Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión is going up against Kevin Brawley, who is on the Republican and Conservative tickets. Brawley is the former chair of the Bronx Conservative Party.

Voters will also get to decide on several ballot measures, including whether to issue a $2 billion state bond for transportation projects. The funds are slated to be used for major projects and maintenance, including $19 million for the Bronx River Greenway and $6.6 million for traffic management on the Bronx River Parkway, according to state Department of Transportation figures.

Immigration Funds
Council Member Oliver Koppell allocated $75,000 last month to organizations serving new immigrants. Locally, funds will go to the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center for ESL classes, and the Organization of Bangladeshi Americans.

Stop the War
Congressman José Serrano reiterated his call last week to bring American troops back from Iraq after the 2,000th U.S. soldier was killed.“We have lost far too many precious lives in a war that was sold on twisted logic and lies,” said Serrano in a statement. “Nothing short of a full withdrawal is acceptable.”

Phony Funding
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión teamed up with a new ally, Queens Council Member John Liu, in decrying the MTA’s decision to give holiday discounts to passengers last month. The officials said that the $900 million budget surplus, which was suddenly discovered by the MTA, would be better spent on service upgrades.

“Less than 12 months ago the MTA was crying poor and demanding a fare hike,” said Carrión in a statement. “[This is] nothing more than a temporary gimmick.”

The MTA proposal, which was approved last week, includes half-price weekend trips from Nov. 23 to Jan. 1 and 30-day MetroCards that last for 40 days.

Carrion and Liu, the Council’s Transportation Committee chair, argued that the MTA would better use the funds to improve station conditions and overall service. “[The MTA] surrendered to short-term gratification at the expense of long-term reliability,” Liu said.

The MTA has said the discounts represent a small fraction of the total surplus.

Unexpected Allies
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Jeff Klein put away their past differences and held a joint town hall meeting last month. “We’re doing our best in trying to work together,” Dinowitz said. “We both want to do what’s best for our constituents.”

The two come from separate sides of the Bronx Democratic political divide. Dinowitz is from the Riverdale-based Benjamin Franklin Reform Club and Klein is a member of the regular Bronx Democratic organization. Dinowitz fanned the flames when he endorsed Klein’s challenger, Steve Kaufman, in last year’s Senate race.

The rapprochement comes on the heels of new alliance between Council Member Oliver Koppell, a Club member, and Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the Party chair. But Dinowitz said his turnaround has nothing to do with Koppell’s unexpected partnership. “That’s his thing,” Dinowitz said.

Making Law
o The city will study the feasibility of creating job centers for day laborers after legislation was signed by the mayor last month. The workers, typically undocumented immigrants, frequently stand outside to solicit work. The city hopes to create centers to pair employers with workers.

o A bill to create a mandatory recycling program for rechargeable batteries is moving forward in the Council, passing the Sanitation Committee last week. Retailers would take back the batteries at no charge and send them to manufacturers for recycling.

o Council Member Oliver Koppell is the bill’s lead sponsor. The full Council was scheduled to vote on the legislation early this month, and it is expected to pass.

o Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has been busily recruiting more support for a package of legislation he sponsored to crack down on human trafficking. Dinowitz held a public hearing on the issue last week, and organized a discussion among trafficking experts and Assembly leaders in September.

o An amendment sponsored by Congressman Eliot Engel to help emergency-related communication passed the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee last week. The provision seeks to create a $500 million grant to help emergency responders utilize a part of the digital television spectrum

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