This morning, at the ungodly hour of 9 A.M. Ferrnando Ferrer and Mike Bloomberg got together for the first official debate in the mayoral election. Asking the questions for this debate were Dave Evans, political reporter for Eyewitness News, Errol Lewis from the Daily News, and Denise Oyea (O'yea?) from Univision. In a post-fake-haloween daze we zoned in and out of the debates this morning, and this is what we can remember:
Uptdate: "Professional" coverage of the debate is beginning to trickle in.
Bloomberg starts and the first question is about his cash. Bloomie, who looks short and is wearing a very bright red tie, explains the mass o' money he's spent as a factor of his not having his own democratic machine. He doesn't think he's over-killing it. Ferrer doesn't think it is right in a city where "1 in 5 lives in poverty."
Ferrer gets asked what of Bloomberg's projects he would scrap and his immediate response is the Atlantic Rail Yards. Did he just say something about "scratching the surface of a Nets arena in Manhattan?" Last I checked the Yards were in Brooklyn. Anyway, Ferrer objects to "the lack of transparency" and calls the Yards project the "twin brother of the West Side boondoggle." Bloomberg, surprise, couldn't disagree more and reminds Ferrer that Sharpton agrees with him (you could almost hear him go 'nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.').
And now we get people on the street! A gentleman who won't take off his earphones complains about not being able to get a job. He doesn't ask a question, he just talks about it. Now back to the debates!
Bloomberg talks about employment options in the city. Sorry, we dozed off for a minute. Ferrer just called Bloomberg's economic development plan "globetrotting for the Olympics." We laughed. Ferrer says the key is small businesses, not big, for economic development.
The best thing so far is that Ferrer won't let the West Side Stadium go. In ten minutes he's mentioned it a bunch. And now we're up to the "two New Yorks" that Ferrer sees in the recent Goldman Sachs back downtown deal. Bloomberg doesn't agree, saying that he hasn't given that many corporate breaks, and that Ferrer is just harping on the exception, not the rule.
We dozed off for a few minutes.
Ferrer says that he is going to cut our taxes (well, and add some).
Bloomberg doesn't apologize for his tax increases.
More money talk.
A guy on the street is pissed about subway security, which he feels is lacking. Bloomberg says it is increased, you just don't see it. That guy sitting next to you? Could be a cop. Oh! And now Bloomie got a chance to mention that he takes the subway. Also, he says until we stop losing service because of switched wires he doesn't support fare increases (hmmm....). Ferrer supports a Mass Transit System that is 'safe, reliable and affordable.' Bloomberg's appointees to the MTA aren't wimps, they are "potted plants" for not doing enough.
We are so tired. They are talking about emergency management and we can barely keep our eyes open...
Sounds like Bloomberg is talking about crime and admits that there are too many shootings and too many guns in the city. Ferrer uses this as a way to connect Bloomberg to Bush which is clearly making Mike furious. When Freddy says that Bloomberg supports Bush's policies on guns Bloomberg cuts in and emphatically says that they did not agree on this issue.
And we're on to housing! A guy on the street is mad because you can't afford to live in even Harlem anymore. The city, the guy says, is turning into a playground for the rich and their servants. Ferrer loves this saying that the bubble is over and things are bad. Bloomberg, surprise, doesn't agree. We've switched from home owner assistance to rent assistance. Ferrer wants equity and affordability all over the city. Sounds nice to us.
And on to the homeless. Some 32,000 New Yorkers sleep in shelters each night. Would Ferrer support city owned housing for the homeless? Yes. Bloomberg responds by tooting his own horn as to the buildings he's added and gotten rid of. His focus now is firstly on preventing homelessness. He refuses to promise any kind of subsidies though.
Oh, and now we're up to education. A woman on the street thinks that bad test scores are more the teachers fault than the students. Bloomberg thinks he's on the right track. Ferrer starts talking about drop out rates, and Bloomberg shoots him down for not understanding the numbers. He tries to explain, we doze off. Oh, wait, Ferrer says his facts and understandings are correct. But we're moving on to the fact that Ferrer thinks that dropping the Board of Education wasn't the big deal that it was made out to be. Why, the questioners want to know, hasn't Bloomberg focused on high school kids? In time is the short of his response.
Ferrer really doesn't buy this. He won't leave any children behind! Bloomberg looks like he wants to get out of there.
And now another New Yorker on the street wants to talk about the mess that is Ground Zero. If Rudy were still here, she says, things would be better by now. Ferrer talks some about ground zero and so does Bloomberg but on this topic they are both so full of hot air we're not going to recap that for you.
Bloomberg is listing new parks and ferry terminals, the freedom tower he says is about to go up (really?) as a way to start talking about residential development by Ground Zero. Ferrer thinks that there should be no more multi-million dollar condo's built with city assistance. Ferrer attacks Bloomberg for not refilling recently emptied seats in the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which Bloomberg says he hasn't done because that we be presumptuous and that those seats should be filled by a who ever wins the election.
And now we're talking about Police brutality (who remembers when that was the hot issue in the city? those were days...).
Bloomberg is now defending the fact that despite being a Republican he hasn't been able to get the best results from the Republican governor and federal government (his response: we do ok). Ferrer says he would do battle. This is very boring.
Bloomie gives a shout-out to Chuck Shumer and Hillary Clinton. Freddy pulls the I like Clinton card and then asks Bloomie if he likes Bush. Bloomberg says "George Bush is the President of the United States. I agree with him on some things and I disagree with him on others. I represent the People of the City of New York. When I disagree with him I've been very vocal, as I have when I disagree... LaGuardia said that there is no democratic or republican way to pick up the garbage, which may be why I got the endorsement of the sanitation union..." Ferrer lets this slide and starts talking about the Republican National Convention and the War in Iraq. Clearly, Freddy is going to try to turn this election on national politics.
Bloomberg's pet peeve of the city: everyone wants new services and nobody wants to pay for them.
Ferrer, on the other hand, is mad that we get ticket blitzes at the end of the month and yet the city can't keep track of how many kids drop out of school.
Bloomberg plays up that he made 'tough decisions' and tried to do 'what was right for the city' further, he says, he is not beholden to anyone. He wants more time because there is more to do.
As for Ferrer, he really wants to return to his "Two New Yorks" speech. He is running for mayor "so that millions of others can cross over that very same bridge" he did. He wants to end the drop-out epidemic in our schools, and to ease real estate and poverty crises.
And we're done. We're going to back to sleep now.