Vol. 18, No. 21 Nov. 3 - 16,  2005



Where’s Freddy?
New York City voters could be forgiven for thinking that Mayor Bloomberg’s opponents in next week’s election are John Corzine and Doug Forrester, who are, of course, running for Senate in New Jersey. The three wealthy candidates are so ubiquitous on TV with their multi-million-dollar ad campaigns that the relatively meager ad buy of Bloomberg’s real opponent, Fernando Ferrer, is barely noticeable.

If Bloomberg is so confident in his own record, why does he feel the need to bombard us with ads?

But Ferrer bears responsibility for the eclipse of his message, too. He has simply not taken advantage of free media. On an average day, we get about 10 press releases e-mailed to us from the Bloomberg campaign, not to mention the mayor’s office. But we get zip from Ferrer. We asked to be put on the press list and for the next couple of days received one or two releases, but then nada. Ferrer has appeared in his home borough. He spoke at Bronx Community College, which is in our coverage area, but we didn’t hear about it until after it happened.

Other Bronx media outlets say they also haven’t heard from the candidate. The Ferrer camp wouldn’t even designate a spokesman to appear in a surrogate’s debate on Gary Axelbank’s BRONXNET talk show on Monday. So, four times a day, all this week, Ninfa Segarra will get a chance to make her case for the mayor as the show is repeated.
Ferrer’s handlers, who talk like they’ve already won, even when they’re behind almost 30 points in the polls, seem to be operating according to a mysterious calculus.

In a New York Observer article, Ferrer consultant and former Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez said: “Freddy’s candidacy for mayor will change the world. It will never be the same. The consequences of this campaign will live long beyond 2005.”

The Bloomberg spending spree is unseemly and we worry that the city’s progressive campaign finance system will be made obsolete by wealthy candidates who opt out of it altogether. It seems inevitable that fewer candidates will choose to tie a hand behind their back while rich political opponents get to whack them with everything in their bank accounts.

Still, we’re disappointed that Ferrer, a scrappy Bronxite who saw this borough through some of its toughest times over a solid 14-year tenure, laid his stickball bat down long before the game was over.

Faith in Loew’s
The scene at Loew’s Paradise Theatre on Saturday night wasn’t just impressive because one of the borough’s most treasured landmarks reopened.

It was that it reopened in such style. Rather than gut the Paradise for a gigantic carpet emporium (only the exterior is landmarked, so that was not out of the question), developer Gerald Lieblich painstakingly restored the former movie palace to its former grandeur.

The Paradise even has a state-of-the-art kitchen and a lobby restaurant run by a celebrity chef.

The new Paradise will mainly be a concert hall, rather than a movie theater. Some will lament that, but it will still be a cultural venue, and Lieblich deserves tremendous credit for having faith in such an ambitious commercial venture. We hope that Bronxites will affirm Lieblich’s vote of confidence at the box office.


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