Thursday, September 15, 2005

What Freddy Needs to do

The gracious concession of Anthony Weiner clears the way for Freddy Ferrer to immediately concentrate all of his efforts on trying to defeat the billionaire incumbent in November. The task is clearly formidable and will require a great deal of ingenuity and creativity. An orthodox campaign will simply not work. Freddy needs to find ways to throw Bloomberg off balance, force him into situations that require spontaneity, and challenge him in directly personal terms.

In doing so he needs to somehow use the mayor's great wealth, a fortune that he pretty much pledged not to use in his re-election campaign, against him. This strategy, however, can't be employed in any crude redux of the "two cities" theme that was used against Freddy four years ago.

One of the best issues to use in this regard is the BTM eviction of the market merchants and the mayor's promise to do the same to the businesses at Willets Point, where Bloomberg famously remarked that, "the land is too valuable for the businesses that are on it." The issue here is an economic development policy of favoritism for the well-connected and well-heeled.

In the same vein the mayor's response to the complaints of bodegas that the so-called "bodega tax" on tobacco was costing the small neighborhood stores around $250 million a year ("It's a minor economic issue"), points to the same "mind over matter" economic royalist attitude that sees the little guy-small store owner or average citizen- with disdain.

In addition, and Freddy knows this issue really well, the cozy relationship between Doctoroff and Related's Steve Ross can be effectively dramatized and used to symbolize the way that economic development in Mike Bloomberg' world is based on "patricianage". Just as the merchants can be evicted in the BTM, using the pretext of a phony "public market clause", so can the Fernandez brothers be by-passed on Bradhurst Avenue as Doctoroff-Bloomberg push crony aggrandizing deals in the name of economic development.

The entire economic development strategy here rests on mega-developments that overwhelm local communities and push out small businesses. The end result, as published reports show, is the increased poverty rates in NYC that demonstrate how economic progress is far from being a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Of course in this regard the entire debacle on the West Side needs to be re-visited. The more Freddy can make this election about Steve Ross, Steve Roth and Woody Johnson the more he can simultaneously hit out at the mayor's obscene spending levels. How many fire houses and day care centers could be opened with the money the mayor is spending? Why, if he has such a great four year record, does Bloomberg need to spend $100 million to convince the public of what should be self-evident?