Friday, September 23, 2005

NYC Mayoral Election: Why would people vote against their own interests?

When the current New York City mayoral campaign began I was excited because the candidate that impressed me the most was Charles Baron. I saw him on one of those talk shows with the likes of Shawn Hannity and quite a few others. The odd thing about this program was that you had responsible people representing both sides, not your usual Hannity-Colmes slant so prevelant on Fox. I was amazed at how Baron was able to totally frustrate the conservative pundits to the point where they were making fools of themselves every time they opened their mouths. When Baron dropped out of the race in deference to Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields I was shocked. A local weekly newspaper New York Press was also impressed with Baron but suprisingly Baron made the list of the New York Press' 100 most dispicable New Yorkers mainly because of his untimely exit from the mayoral campaign. When I look at the current political climate I can't help but think of the best seller "What's The Matter With Kansas?" This book shows how Kansans, especially low to moderate income Kansans continue to vote Republican and vote against their own interests. Well I think a book should be written with the title......"What's The Matter With New York City?" because here too, we continue to see people voting against their own interests. Governor George Pataki allegedly concurred with a New York State judge who said that an eighth grade education was sufficient for inner city school children. New York state had to be sued in order to get the educational funds that were diverted upstate. Knowing this I was stunned when I saw signs in Washington Heights which read "Hispanos For Pataki" In his close to three terms as Governor of New York what has Pataki done for hispanics or other inner city residents of color....NOTHING. The governor defended the heinous Rockefeller drug laws which equally punish black and Hispanic youth. Pataki won his first term as governor on the death penalty platform and we all know who gets incarcerated and who is more than likely to get the death penalty. Racial politics has reared its ugly head in prior mayoral elections and there is no reason to believe that it won't happen in this one. Who can forget the antics of what I consider to be the nation's premier right wing rag The New York Post, which featured a cartoon showing Al Sharpton bending down and Fernando Ferrer kissing his bottom. This disgusting display of bad taste was seen by many white New Yorkers, who unfortunately read The Post and were galvanized to the Bloomberg camp. Now if this cartoon had been drawn in let's say the New York Times and we had let's say we have Bloomberg kissing Giuliani's rear there would be an outrage. It would be the lead story in the papers and in all the media. But very little was said about the Post cartoon. If you are right wing you can get away with it. That brings us to the present where Billionaire Bloomberg finds himself with a fourteen point lead over Fernando Ferrer. I wonder if there is a group called "Hispanos For Bloomberg", there probably is. Even though Hispanics make up the city's largest ethnic group they are not the city's ethnic group with the largest number of registered voters, that distinction still goes to the whites, who are expected to turn out in large numbers for Bloomberg, who has according to polls 42 percent of the anticipated Democratic vote. This is something that should not be happening in a Democratic city. Is it racism? Many New York City residents have short memories. During the time of the Republican convention when thousands of city residents and others were hurded into a vacant pier garage with hazardous chemical fumes Mayor Bloomberg's polls numbers were in the toilet. But according to Quinnipiac that is not the situation today. What changed it all? Was it the fact that you couldn't turn on the television set without seeing a Bloomberg commercial telling us how in New York City everything is now wonderful. Test scores are just great and we have an end to social promotions. Being a New York City school teacher I see children who still graduate when they really don't deserve to. There are principals who are being forced to pass students who should repeat. The trick is they are graduating a few months later. Yes they do go to summer school but some how they still graduate. A gullible public will believe anything they see on television , even if it is not true. The papers say that unemployment in down, but of course the same of trick is just don't count the people who have given up and stopped looking for work. Just a few months ago the New York Amsterdam News reported that half of the city's African American males were unemployed. With that disturbing fact how can you account for the existence of the group "African Americans For Bloomberg" with such luminaries as former Red Sox/Met baseball star Mo Vaughn and supermodel Iman. Like Bloomberg these people have very high incomes but what do they have in common with the black man or woman on the street. Do they feel their pain? Do they know the anguish of trying to find decent affordable housing....I don't think so, but yet there are those in the black community that will be swayed by the "bling-bling" and just like the people of Kansas vote against their own self interest.... even in the biggest Democrat enclave in the country. During the Bloomberg years one group who I am sure Bloomberg can count on is landlords. He has given them everything they have wanted, forcing thousands to live elsewhere. Have they forgotten? Yes it looks as though Mayor Bloomberg will get re-elected BUT if certain circumstances prevail he could lose 1) The media continues to tell us that there's really no contest that Bloomberg is far ahead, but what if this isn't true and is just a case of wishful thinking? 2) Although Dennis Rivera of the powerful union 1199 supported Republican George Pataki in the last gubernatorial election and was expected to endorse Republican Mike Bloomberg in this mayoral election, Rivera is apparently upset about something regarding 25,000 employees of 1199 (at this time I don't know specifically what it is). Another powerful union The United Federation of Teachers under the leadership of Randy Weingarten was about to knuckle under the Bloomberg barage but rank and file union members made it perfectly clear to Weingarten "NO WAY" If both the UFT and 1199 unite and flood the city with telephone calls and an all out effort to dethrone Bloomberg.....Michael Bloomberg could actually lose. The whites will vote for Bloomberg, but many whites are members of the UFT and 1199 if they are motivated they could siphon off the white vote that the Bloomberg camp is taking for granted. Fernando Ferrar is a decent politician who has done well in his long tenure as Bronx Borough President bring a substantial number of jobs to that borough. But Ferrer made a seemly fatal error when he spoke in front of the New York City policemen saying that the police were not responsible for the murder of Amadou Diallo. This statement has infuriated members of the African-American and African community of this city, causing members of those communities to say that they will sit out the election. This happened because apparently Ferrar was trying to walk that racial tightrope. He needs at least 30% of the white vote to win and I guess this was just one way that he could endear himself to the whites of New York City. As an African-American I am also angered by Ferrer's statement but I feel we have to look at the big picture. All four Democratic mayoral candidates made very good presentations in the televised mayoral debates. Weiner made a graceful exit from the race to save the Democratic party millions. Miller because of his relatively you age may be heard from again in the future. But the front-running incumbent and his multi-billionaire friends were the beneficiaries of all those George W. Bush tax cuts. Michael Bloomberg may disagree with the selected president on some issues but he is solidly in the Bush camp. He helped prevent the Central Park antiwar demonstration. He also gave Bush seven million dollars. This he has given to a man who started a war under false pretenses. He has given seven million to a man who has attempted to alter the social security safety net that has been in existence for almost seventy years. This is the man who has endorsed the estate tax that deprives our nation of badly needed income for programs designed to help the neediest among us. I can't see how Mr. Bloomberg can be for the people of New York City. I also can't understand why the people of New York City would vote for Mr. Bloomberg.

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