Monday, September 9, 2013

Primary objectives

The long and perverse reign of Republican and crypto-Republican mayors in New York City—20 years!—is about to come to an end, and the normal condition, in which the Democratic primary is the de facto election, is about to resume, with any luck at all. I'm about to make some endorsements!
Dante's dad is the very tall white guy with the blue tie.

Bill DeBlasio, of course. I originally liked John Liu best, as the leftmost candidate, and a fine comptroller, and a member of my own minority-in-law, which is badly underrepresented in city government, but I have been sad about his apparent inability to stop his campaign [jump]
workers from collecting contributions over the limits and laundering them into fake bundles (I originally thought it was a case of what I regard as entrapment by the Feds but I am now hearing that some of it is real); and in any case it's wrecked his chances. Meanwhile, Big Bill, always my second choice, has turned into my first, showing real charisma, and seems almost certain to be able to defeat the enemy candidate, King Michael's prime minister Christine Quinn, as well as whatever driftwood the Republican primary casts up. As far as Quinn goes...
It's too bad we can't have a Chinese-American or a black or a gay female mayor, but it's not our fault. And few of us really want a dick-selfie–posting mayor Carlos Danger, however witty he may be, especially if his career in office, now more than 20 years long, is really not very distinguished.

We do get DeBlasio's family, which is kind of like Obama's in being a lot more fun than politicians, only quite a bit more so. His children are not merely biracial but also named Dante and Chiara. And we get someone who is committed to reining in the NYPD's terrorizing of blacks, Latinos, and Muslims, and to allowing cell phones in schools—actually all the Democratic candidates are pro–cell phone, but DeBlasio wants to have non-union corporate-sponsored obscenity obscenity charter schools pay rent to the school buildings in which they are unceremoniously laid like cuckoo's eggs, which is about the best thing anybody has said on the subject of the school system since the campaign began. And he will, if elected, be the first mayor of New York with his own kids in the public school system, not only because he's not afraid to have them there, but because he's young enough to have kids that age.
Tish James advocating endangered adult literacy programs.
Public advocate: according to the Times,
Ms. James, Mr. Squadron’s strongest competitor, describes herself as a fighter, but in a recent debate she refused to answer a question about her campaign finances and instead attacked the questioner. She promised to be a “thorn to bureaucracy,” but the city needs more than a thorn. Ms. Saujani has done impressive work helping young women acquire technological skills, but she tends to speak of herself as a potential mayor, not public advocate.
I'm not clear what the Times thinks a public advocate in New York City does, but I think the job description is of two main responsibilities, to be a thorn in the side of bureaucracy and a potential mayor, so huh?

The potential mayor part is less important, given that mayors rarely die, abscond, or become so much more incompetent than they were when they started out that they must be removed. Letitia James, known as Tish, is certainly the thorniest candidate, with a loud and radical voice, and I'm voting for her. (The thing about the campaign finances is sloppy accounting, as far as I can see—a failure to report all her spending last spring—that might be disquieting in a candidate for comptroller, but is really not very shocking.) She's not even a Democrat, strictly speaking, but a Working Families, that is a member of the Working Families Party, which is kind of cool (normally Working Families simply cross-endorses the Democrat, trying to keep her or him honest, but in James's case it's the other way around).

James—and Stringer!—show off their moves, starting a little after 2:00.


I've been voting for Scott Stringer for this and that office for years and years now. He's one of those guys you might feel sorry for, because he was at the end of the line when they passed out the charisma and got a short helping, and yet he's just as emotionally needy as any of them, but he seems to be a real boy scout in terms of honesty and readiness to work, and better suited to the comptroller's job than most professional politicians in that way. And I'm sure he's just as smart as Elliott Spitzer, just less of a showoff.

I've done my share of voting for Spitzer too, and don't much regret it, but while I think he was a great attorney general, I have a less positive impression of his work as governor, even before he screwed himself out of the job; does not play well with others, taking a prosecutorial tone with the legislators and then being startled when they resisted. Also, I forgive him for paying for sex but not for trying to win the election in the same way. Having so much money you want to bypass the public financing system like Obama is bad enough, but when you're so rich it's your own money then as far as I'm concerned you're still just Client no. 9.
Scott Stringer rolls up his sleeves, sort of.
Borough President:

I've been voting for Gale Brewer for years too, as my representative to the City Council, and now that she's running for borough president there's no real reason for me to stop. All the candidates are fine, and I'll be happy to go with whoever wins the primary, but Gale used those notorious Member Items to send my kids and dozens or hundreds of others to chess tournaments in Denver and Nashville and got righteous about the rats that invaded the neighborhood and does her grocery shopping where I do (at least once every four years; she was a very conspicuously carefully dressed shopper when I saw her there last week, her husband looking anxious and aware of being in the way), so what the hell.
Brewer in high campaign mode.
City Council:

This was the hardest. The candidates in my district are all pleased to call themselves progressive and mean it, have attractive résumés, and are unfamiliar to me. I was about to go with the progressive machine candidate (yes, on the Upper West Side we have a progressive machine, figureheaded by Congressman Jerry Nadler), Marc Landis. I ruled out Noah Gotbaum as the scion of a dynasty (his father ran the AFSCME District Council 37, a very glorious union local, and his mother served as public advocate), and Ken Biberaj as a capitalist (vice president of the Russian Tea Room on 57th Street). The Times spectacularly endorsed Mel Wymore, a transgender man who happily acknowledges that his children still call him Mom, but the paper's reasons were chiefly about zoning issues in which he played a productive role, and I just don't get emotional about those. The issues I get excited about in local elections are education, education, and education, and one candidate, the paleofeminist Debra Cooper, had a lot more to say about it than the others, all of which I agreed with.
Debra Cooper on the Columbia campus. Photo by Ayelet Pearl for the Spectator.
And there you are. If you don't live in New York, don't forget not to vote, and have a gorgeous day regardless. See you anon!

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