Friday, July 22, 2005

Russell Harding Goes to Jail

After a long, agonizing period of feigned mental illness Russell Harding, the symbol of the Giuliani administration’s slogan, “one city, one standard,” finally got sentenced for stealing from the NYC Housing Development Corporation, the agency he was unqualified to run in the first place. Only the Times story, however, alludes to Harding’s father Ray who was the recognized patronage king of the former mayor’s reign.

We bring up the Giuliani slogan because Harding symbolizes the blatant hypocrisy of the Giuliani years where nothing, except perhaps law enforcement, was done without pure, unadulterated political considerations. Though, when you consider the reasons for firing Bill Bratton, not even law enforcement can be considered above crass politics.

We bring this up because we just returned from Staten Island were we are working with local civic groups on the anti-Wal-Mart campaign. About ten years ago the first BJ’s was defeated in the Charleston neighborhood at the behest of their councilmember, now Judge, John Fusco. You see, this was in the middle of Giuliani’s promotion of his megastore policy which, in his usual fashion, he subordinated to his own political interests.

In fact, without Giuliani realizing it, he and the Alliance made a fine team together. Whenever there was a megastore proposal in a community that had supported the former mayor we went in, helped the local civics organize the anti-development effort and, once done, sat back and let the Giuliani do his thing. And do he did – in Forest Hills, Mill Basin, and Bay Ridge the ex-mayor stepped in to prevent the very kind of stores he argued were vital to the city’s economy.

This brings us to a Wal-Mart point. No matter how much rhetorical and theoretical support for the store exists in the City, it all comes down to location and it will be those locations that will step up to defeat the behemoth.