By Robert Press
BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 30- Last week the Ben Franklin Democratic Club (BFDC) held a mayoral forum, and the big question was if Anthony Weiner was going to show.
Weiner announced that he is running for mayor just two days before the BFDC mayoral forum so he was not listed on the program that went out before he announced. The BFDC said the day before their mayoral forum that yes indeed candidate Anthony Weiner would participate in the mayoral forum. Weiner was joined by Bill DeBlasio, Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, and Erick Salgado in a format where the candidates spoke alone and answered questions that came from the audience. John Liu was scheduled as the last speaker in this forum, but was stuck in traffic and did not make it to the forum before it ended. Most of the candidates were going from event to event, borough to borough.
Hours before the forum trucks began showing up from the various local television stations since this would be Weiner's first mayoral forum after he announced his candidacy only two days ago. Reporters wanted to see the reaction from the audience to Weiner, and if the club who supported Weiner in 2005 would do it again in 2013. This however was not a debate where the candidates would interact, but a forum where each candidate was given 6 minutes to speak and then up to 7 minutes to answer questions from the audience.
The first Democratic mayoral candidate to speak was current Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio. DeBlasio spoke of “A tale of two cities” almost sounding like a rerun of Freddy Ferrer when he ran in 2005. He said that he wants to build 200,000 units of affordable housing, and tax the wealthy to pay for Pre-k and after school programs.
Second was former councilman Sal Albanese. He said that with his 11 years as a teacher that poverty is the main reason many children fail in school. He wants to have more pediatric wellness centers, and create more jobs. Upon questioning Albanese said that education will be his top priority, as well as affordable housing, and senior programs.
Third was long shot candidate Rev. Erick Salgado. The attention however was taken away from Salgado when Anthony Weiner entered the room. As Weiner moved to his seat to wait to speak he was followed by a dozens of cameras, and reporters. Salgado had given a brief history of himself, and closed by saying that he wants to rent out the public schools when they are not being used to non-profits.
Fourth was former City Comptroller Bill Thompson. Thompson spoke of his experience as President of the old Board of Education saying more student gains were made back in 1999 when Rudy Crew was Chancellor then now while a prosecutor was in charge (without naming Joel Klein). He then went on to slam the mayor and city council (not naming Speaker Quinn) for changing the term limit law in 2008. Thompson also said that of the 76 newly announced schools that only 2 were really new schools, and the others were only schools that were closed and were being reopened as new schools. He ended by thanking the BFDC for their endorsement in 2009 and said that he can win in 2013 with the clubs endorsement.
Fifth was former congressman Anthony Weiner. Weiner opened up about how his grandparents lived in Riverdale, and moved to his parents settling in Queens. After a few more words Weiner then said that he was sorry that he had made a terrible mistake, and asked the audience for forgiveness. Weiner spoke more of health care saying that the city has health care facilities that need to be used more to keep the costs low. He said that he has ideas on education, and that the city is now worse off then in 2005. He thanked the BFDC for their endorsement in 2005, and said that the city needs to elect a Democratic as mayor, and that he can do it in 2013.
Sixth and last was current City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Quinn tried to take credit for almost everything in the city from keeping the crime rate low and fire houses open to the Living Wage Bill. On a question of changing the term limit law Quinn said that in 2008 Councilman G. Oliver Koppell (who had left by then) and other members of the council came up with the change of the term limit law. To a question of being overbearing Quinn said that she is tough, pushy and fights for the city every day. She ended by saying that she is “One Pushy Broad”.
After Quinn finished there was a wait, but BFDC President Ellen Feld said that John Liu would not be speaking as he was held up in traffic, and then ended the forum. You can go to my blog at www.100percentbronx.blogspot.com to see photos of the candidates and read more about the forum. There was no winner or loser as this was not a debate where the candidates interacted, but a forum where each spoke one at a time. After the forum was over I asked many in the audience if they could forgive candidate Anthony Weiner as he had asked. The results were that most men asked said yes, while most women said no with a couple of women even saying that they could not vote for a pervert.
On Tuesday May 28th the BFDC held an endorsement meeting to vote to endorse a candidate for mayor. Since this endorsement meeting is after our deadline I will have the results next week. Unlike the Bronx Democratic County organization who has already endorsed Bill Thompson for mayor I believe that the BFDC will be true to their independence and will not endorse any candidate for mayor at the May 28th endorsement meeting. That way the club can have petitions from all the mayoral candidates and not anger any of its members who may like one specific candidate.
If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.