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The Bloomberg Years

From the Haitian Times

November 20, 2001

It is no exaggeration to say that Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani was no friend of the Haitian community. He never tried to reach out and when he had to do so, he turned his back on us.

He tried to demonize Patrick Dorismond after the Haitian American man who was shot to death by the police nearly two years ago. That incident sparked more tensions between the police and the community, coming on the heels of the Louima incident.

But thanks to terms limits voters ushered in Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire media mogul, whose campaign and victory last Tuesday night defied all of the political experts. We believe that a Bloomberg administration will be a more open and courteous one to the Haitian community. It doesn1t take much by the standard of his predecessor.

While the Haitian media had to cajole and shove Democratic Mark Green to take out radio ads, Bloomberg readily took out ads, although he had $50 million to spend on the race. But he could have easily ignored us. His campaign reached out and tried to learn as much as they could about the Haitian community.

They still have a ways to go, but there will be plenty of opportunities as Bloomberg takes office. Outside the Haitian community, Bloomberg has shown that he has what it takes to mend fences. A day after his victory, he met with Fernando Ferrer, the Bronx Borough President, who lost in a bitter runoff against Green. He shook hands with Rev. Al Sharpton. This was something that Giuiliani never did in his nearly eight years as mayor. Green had spent the last weeks of his campaign running as far away from Sharpton as possible.

In trying to woo the white Jewish vote. The tactic and a strong backing of Giuliani of Bloomberg, did Green in. He lost a race that was supposed to be his for the taking. We know that many Haitians had invested time and effort for Green. He in turn, had spent considerable amount of time reaching out and meeting various community leaders and activists. Much has been said about Green1s self-destruction. He had promised jobs and access to the Haitian community. His loss should not change much of that. Any mayor, an we believe Bloomberg does, has to realize that it cannot shun one of the largest growing black immigrant groups in the city. While Giuliani did and gotten away with it, the wave that swept him into office eight years ago had changed completely. The Haitian community has survived those hostile years and now we should start to strategize our path.

No matter who presides at City Hall, we should continue to organize ourselves into a strong community that has articulated a common vision for the collective. If we do that then we can begin to be taken seriously and make some serious inroads for our community.

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