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City Council District 5 Candidate Debate

by Gotham Gazette Staff, Oct 21, 2005
 

On October 18, 2005, two candidates for City Council district 5 debated issues of the city budget, noise, healthcare reform, and housing. The candidates are: Jessica Lappin (Democrat/Working Families Party) and Joel Zinberg (Republican/Independence/Liberal). The event was sponsored by Citizens Union in partnership with the Carnegie Hill Neighbors and Friends of the Upper East Side. It was moderated by Edward-Issac Dovere from Our Town newspaper.

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The following is an edited transcript of the event.

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OPENING STATEMENTS

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Jessica Lappin: Good evening, my name is Jessica Lappin. I am the Democratic nominee for city council in the 5th district. I am a born and bred New Yorker. I grew up in Manhattan, went to Stuyvesant High School and then to Georgetown University for college, and then came back to New York City, the city that I love after a brief stint in the private sector chose to pursue a career in public service. I've been working in this community for the last seven years. I started out in 1998 doing constituent service for Gifford Miller and was most recently his district chief of staff.

I'm tackling the issues that I think are important to this community. Working with parents and teachers to improve our schools, to build additional classroom space at PS 290, which now has music and sciences classes. Working with transportation advocates on the East Side, saving bus stops on 55th street that are very important to our population. Working on housing issues with tenants on the East Side and particularly on Roosevelt Island, who have been in danger of losing their homes.

I've been working day in and day out on the ground tackling these issues. My experience in the community and down at City Hall will enable me to be an independent voice for progress and for reform within this community. And from my work in City Council, I think I have a good sense of what works well and what could work better. And then I have some reform proposals I hope we'll get to discuss tonight: to streamline the budget and the bill drafting process, to make the legislative process in general more transparent to the voters and to the public and to the membership of the City Council. I'm working to make the culture of the institution one of more transparency and accountability.

So I believe my experience will enable me to be an effective advocate, to hit the ground running, and I hope that I can earn your support tonight and your vote on November 8th. Thank you.

Joel Zinberg: Good evening. My name is Dr. Joel Zinberg. Like my opponent, I am a life-long New Yorker, also a Stuyvesant High School graduate. I went to Swarthmore College, where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, high honors. I came back to New York for medical school at Columbia, also attended Yale Law school where I was a law journal editor, and I've been in New York ever since.

I am running because I am concerned that the progress we've made in the last few years, the last 12 years to be exact, under the Giuliani and the Bloomberg administrations is in danger. It's in danger if we don't elect council people who have real world experience, who share the experience and perspective of their constituents. I think we have a council that unfortunately is full of politicians and people who have been aides to politicians. They've never worked in the private sector; they don't share the experience and values and perspective of their constituents.

What I want to do is utilize my real-world experience so that we can bring some innovative ideas like reforming Medicaid, using city resources to save $500 million a year, a proposal that was praised by the mayor, praised by the New York Post, and praised by the New York Sun as an innovative, original idea, something you don't see from career politicians. I want to utilize my background to restore quality in the city hospital system.

I want to utilize my background to know that we have alternatives to the Second Avenue Subway by improving the Lexington Avenue line. I've also been a volunteer in the community both in the 19th precinct community council giving free breast cancer screenings and on organizations the preserve the rights and protect the rights at human research centers.

I think it's important to hit the ground running. But I think when you hit the ground you have to know which direction you're going. The only way you know that is by working in the community and having the real world experience.

THE BUDGET DEFICIT

Question: How do you propose the city address the projected deficit in the city's 2007-2008 budgets? Are there new revenue streams that you would propose? Are there specific inefficiencies or wasteful programs you would seek to eliminate?

Joel Zinberg: I think you were talking about the impending budget deficit, which was coming in the out year. Now we have a surplus but there's going to be a budget deficit in the future. You have to start thinking out of the box. You have to think about some innovative ideas. It's not simply a bunch of sound bites saying we're going to cut this; we're going to do that. We need some innovative ideas.

For example, like my Medicaid plan. Those of you who saw the New York Times article, know that we lose billions of dollars every year. New York City spends $5 billion a year on Medicaid. We could be saving by applying city resources to cut back Medicaid fraud and abuse $500 million a year.

I think we can do a lot of things like reform in education; we've already established standards and accountability under the Bloomberg administration, but let's expand that to the whole system. Let's look at those lengthy, complex, ridiculous contracts that create crazy work rules that cost the city money and are completely inefficient – things like the custodians' union. Let's consider the possibility of outsourcing some of the non-educational functions and possibly save that money, and get a more efficient performance.

Let's hold the line on taxing and spending. Let's look very carefully at not increasing, not simply saying that we're going to throw money at every problem. And finally let's look carefully, as the Citizens Budget Commission did, at the possibility of reforming the pension programs and the health benefits for city retirees. Not for the people who've been there already – we have a bond with them – but go forward making it much more like the private sector.

Jessica Lappin: When Gifford Miller was elected speaker during the first budget when we were facing a similar budget deficit, and we cut $3 billion dollars out of the city's budget over the last few years. We are facing this huge budget deficit next year, and I think Joel has some good ideas about Medicaid fraud and we are going to have to find a way to deal with our escalating pension costs and our debt service, which are eating up a large portion of our city's budget.

But I will say if Governor Pataki stopped appealing the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision, we would be able to bridge our budget gap in one year. And if he would stop saying that our kids were only entitled to an 8th grade education – the state's highest court has mandated that the inequality in education funding be addressed, and the state has refused to do it. The governor has fought every step of the way to address this inequality, which has a huge impact upon our city's budget.

And I'll say that that when you balance the budget you have to do it in a way that's mindful of prioritizing and protecting our core city services. I don't think we should go back to being a city with only 20,000 cops on the streets. I think we have to make sure that we are still picking up our trash, keeping our city safe, and making sure our kids are able to go to their schools and be taught in our classrooms.

CITY COUNCIL REFORM

Q: Do you feel the operation of the city council is in need of reform? If so, how would you help create a more open, transparent, and effective city council?

Jessica Lappin: Having worked sort of within the City Council and at City Hall, I think there are things that the City Council should be doing better, and there are a few specific reform proposals I want to lay out briefly.

One, I think the process for the public to track legislation as it moves through City Council should be more transparent: as bills are amended, as bills are voted upon, it's very difficult for the public to follow the process, and I don't think it should be that way. I think there should be a sort of streamlining of the bill drafting process so that members know when their bill will be drafted so that their ideas can become laws. I think there should be e-mail notification to the public about the agenda about what's happening in the body and to the membership of the City Council as well. These are some things that would help to change the culture of the City Council and make it into a more transparent body and make the membership more accountable to the people they represent.

Joel Zinberg: I think the first thing you have to seriously consider when you talk about reforming the city council is to change it from being a one-party system. In the council, 48 of the 51 members are Democrats. Most of you know and you can remember from history when you have one-party rule you usually get no debate, you get poor results, and I think the current council speaks for itself. That's one thing we have to do, we have to elect me, we have to elect my fellow candidate from the other district, Patrick Murphy, to get some new fresh voices, new fresh perspectives. I think are some more procedural matters you could pick. You could allow committees a greater role in the budget process, so that there particular area of expertise should be allowed to be heard in the budget process, something that's now allowed now. You should allow those council committees to function more independently of the speaker so that they can exercise that expertise. You should strengthen the process of allowing council members to propose amendments to bills. It's not a matter of merely transparency; it's a matter of there being dictatorial policies by the speaker. Finally, I think you have to loosen restrictions on the discharge petitions so more things are actually voted upon. But it's not a simple question. But it's a question that easily can be undertaken if you have a two-party system and people willing to do it.

Jessica Lappin: I just wanted to say that I think it's more important to have a member of the majority party stand up and be an independent voice for progress and reform within the institution, and I have always been and will continue to be an independent voice, to stand up to the speaker, whomever that person is, if appropriate, and to make my voice and my views known on behalf of my constituents.

PRESERVATION OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE

Q: The next question comes from Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District. We have been working for many years to landmark important examples of modern architecture on the Upper East Side. This is a threshold issue throughout the city. What are your thoughts on the preservation of modern architecture?

Jessica Lappin: Well, I've worked with Friends of the Upper East Side and Municipal Art Society, and we fought Trump because we didn't think it was a good example of modern architecture and worked with them to try to landmark pieces in this district that are. I think that part of what makes New York City dynamic is that it is a city where there is change and progress and development. But that said, you have to protect the important parts of our history so that as you look back over time we have a record of how the city evolved and became what it is today – such a special place. So I think it's important to work with our historic preservation groups to do that.

Joel Zinberg: I couldn't concur more. It's very important I don't think there's a pat answer to the question. I think each case is individual, obviously. There's no way to say that a Guggenheim Museum isn't a classic simply because it isn't old enough, or that an old building is a classic simply because it is old. It's something that has to be undertaken on a case-by-case basis. I think we have to leave this to the people who are very expert on this, people in the landmark commission. So, we can't make the city a museum, but on the other hand you can't turn it over to developers. It's a mixture, and it's a delicate balance, and it's an ongoing process.

Q: The second question from the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District. How do you plan on working with the community boards?

Joel Zinberg: The community boards perform a very important function in our community. They are the sounding board for people in the community to be able to express their opinions, to let people in positions of power know and in government know what's on their minds, and to have a voice that can ratify those opinions, or publicize those opinions. I think it's imperative that anyone whose going to be on the City Council express their willingness to work with the community boards, whether it's on landmark-type issues or any other issues. I can tell you in my district things like the waste station on 91st street or the water shafts down in the 50s have been called to public attention because of the community boards. They have been calling the politicians to account and without their voice and without people willing to listen to their voice you have a much more political process.

Jessica Lappin: The community boards are the most basic, classic form of local government, and I've really enjoyed working with community board 6 and community board 8 over the last seven years, whether it's through on the environment and education committee of board 8, we've had meetings once a month for years about the 91st street garbage station, or having meetings about bus stops on 55th street. They are public servants who come and meet and they discuss the issues that really impact our quality of life. I have worked with them I want to continue to work with them.

The City Council member appoints members of the community board. I think it's important that our council members appoint people who are thoughtful, substantive, progressive, involved in the community, educated on the local issues. The meetings go on late, into the night, if you go to community board, they usually go until midnight sometimes. That we have people who are willing and are dedicated to do the work that needs to be done is fantastic. I look forward to continuing to work with them.

Joel Zinberg: I wanted to add that I, too, have attended community board meetings at the land use committee and the sanitation and environment committee as recently as about a week and a half ago. I also attend the 19th precinct community council, a very similar kind of community organization, which performs and important function. And I did it because I'm interested, I did it not because it was my job, but just because it's an important role for any citizen to do. Everyone in this room should be attending those meetings as well.

CONSTRUCTION NOISE IS RESIDENTIAL AREAS

Q: This is from Carnegie Hill Neighbors. The question is about noise. How would you work with the City Council and the mayor to reduce noise for construction in residential areas?

Jessica Lappin:Noise is the number one complaint to 311. It is a critical quality of life issue in our community. And I have worked with neighborhood residents to organize anti-horn-honking rallies, to get the 19th precinct to come out and issue summonses to motorists who are illegally honking their horns. I've worked with neighborhood groups to address the problem of noisy bars. I think the City Council has an opportunity to pass a revised noise code and to tackle construction noise, bars, and horn honking. These are real issues that the City Council can address by re-writing the noise code. And I think that we should in the next session be doing that.

Joel Zinberg: Noise is the number one complaint and I can tell you from my years at the 19th Precinct Community Council and discussions with Inspector Rogers and the community affairs officers that they try very hard to enforce the laws. It's a very difficult task. The fact of the matter is, you hear a loud radio, you hear a loud neighbor, you call 311, you call 911, the police office comes over, by the time they're there, the noise is off. It's not a simple matter, but there are certain things that can be done and certain organizations that can be held responsible. It's very clear we have to limit construction hours and not have construction in the middle of the night. You also have to be clear that you cannot necessarily have commercial waste trucks loading at all hours of the night – you've all probably been awakened by a truck slamming that container at three in the morning and people screaming. So it requires changing the code, it requires common sense, it requires a little bit of thinking out of the box and the continued participation of our police and our citizenry.

Moderator: Candidates will now have a chance to ask questions of their opponents.

PROPERTY TAX REBATE

Jessica Lappin: My question ties into the question about the budget gap for next year, because we are facing a considerable budget deficit – do you support the mayor's plan to give a $400 tax rebate next year?

Joel Zinberg: The interesting thing is that most people don't realize that the only tax that the city controls obliquely is the property tax. So we have a city council that refuses to reign in spending, refuses to act responsibly, refuses to look at new ideas that could potentially save money – it forces us to raise taxes. And what's the tax we can raise? The property tax. Now, if you act fiscally responsible, then you have the opportunity to cut back taxes. So I think if indeed the budget warrants it – at the moment it appears that it does – I am in favor of continuing that. If circumstances should change then I think then we'd have to re-think that question.

MILLER'S MAILINGS

Joel Zinberg: In the September 7th Democratic primary debate, one of your opponents, Eric Cesnick, asked if you would call on Gifford Miller to return the $1.6 million in taxpayer money that he used to pay for what were clearly campaign mailings. Your answer was evasive and not responsive and you refused a request by Mr. Cesnick and the moderator, Dominick Carter, to answer yes or no. Mr. Carter finally concluded, quote, "that's a no answer." My question is, why won't you publicly urge your mentor, Mr. Miller, to return this taxpayer money that was obtained by circumventing normal council bidding rules and used to benefit Mr. Miller's campaign?

Jessica Lappin: I have answered this question publicly at forums before the NY1 debate, and again on NY1, and I want to do it again. I was not working for Gifford Miller in April when… I left his office in April, when he sent out those mailings. I think it was a mistake. He didn't ask my advice. If he had asked my advice, I would have told him that I thought it was a mistake. And beyond that, you know I'm here to discuss my campaign, my race, my issues, and my ideas. For him to give back the money, that's a decision that he has to make on his own. I've answered this question many times, and I'd like to move on and discuss some issues that impact this community.

Joel Zinberg: Interestingly, that's almost verbatim the answer that was given at that September 7th debate and I think anyone who reads that transcript or heard the answer tonight can conclusively say it's a non-responsive answer. It's not an answer to, yes or no, will you urge him to give back the money. It's a simple question.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Q: What is your plan to preserve affordable housing in New York City?

Jessica Lappin: I have been actively working with tenants on the East Side and on Roosevelt Island to tackle this issue. When the rent laws were set to expire a couple years ago, I traveled to Albany with East Side tenants. We lobbied together, side-by-side, at the state's capital, and rallied, talked to our legislators, and convinced them to renew the rent laws.

I've worked with the tenants out on Roosevelt Island, one of the poorest, probably the poorest residents in the district. They're Section 8 tenants, and they now have a deal they have brokered with their landlords, they're going to be able to stay in their homes. And I'm working with the middle-income tenants who live across the street so that they can do the same. And I think a lot of what you're City Council member can do and should do is work one-on-one with tenants in this community.

On the broader scale, I favor inclusionary zoning as a way, if developers are coming to City Council and asking for something, they should give something back. They should give affordable housing to the community. And then I think that's a tool that our City Council members should use to promote the building of new affordable units. I like the idea of creating a vehicle for people - whether it's developers or tenants - to purchase their homes with low-interest loans. That's something that would greatly benefit the middle-income tenants on Roosevelt Island. And I think encouraging some of the tax credits for green building and for the building of middle-income that already exists are also ways that we can continue to address this crisis in our city.

Joel Zinberg: The key issue here is how to increase the stock of affordable housing. And you increase it by utilizing government programs in partnership with private programs. And I think what Mayor Bloomberg has been doing the last few years is a fantastic example of that. He's managed to get $130 million from the Battery City fund downtown for building affordable housing, he promoted inclusionary zoning, and he recently announced a partnership between private foundations, banks, and the government to build affordable housing.

It's not something you do by fiat; it's not something that the government can or should order. It just doesn't work that way; it can't be mandatory.

I think that what Mayor Bloomberg is showing is that if you put your mind to it, when you're flexible, when you're willing to negotiate, and take into account the interests both of the tenants and of the people who are seeking to build the housing, you can accomplish great things. In addition, he has also been right there negotiating to extend Section 8 housing for people, in their negotiating to convince landlords to stay in the Mitchell-Lama program. You can't put people in who have taken a deal twenty years ago and simply change the rules. He knows that. But he's been in there, offering incentives, trying to get them to do it, and I think he's been very successful and I think that's what we need to be doing.

Jessica Lappin: I think it does matter not just the affordable housing we create, but working in this war of attrition to save what we can. And I think that is an important component that the city should be looking at moving forward. For example, if the city offered low-interest loans to families on Roosevelt Island and enabled them to purchase those apartments, we would be saving a thousand units. We should keep people in this city and we should stop this hemorrhage. To lose a thousand units of affordable housing, that means we have to build a thousand more just to stand still. I think that's important.

THE MTA

Q: And our next question is about the MTA. For those of you don't know, the MTA is currently run by a board, which has several members appointed by the mayor and the majority of members appointed by the governor, so it is controlled by Albany. The question is, are you in favor of the city taking over the MTA?

Joel Zinberg: The MTA was formed several years back by merging several different transit authorities. And I'm not sure that the city taking over is necessarily a solution. I do know about one thing that very easily can be done to improve the MTA. What the MTA has done is maintain separate structures back from the old days when it was four different agencies. You have four duplicates on many different aspects of their administrative staff. You just don't need it, it's wasteful, and you could save tremendous amounts of money by eliminating that. I just don't know that having the city run it. It covers a much broader area that just New York City is necessarily a solution. Aside from which, it's a state agency and it may be out of our hands under in any event.

Jessica Lappin: I imagine this question has grown out of frustration from some people in this room who are feeling that the MTA is one of the most unresponsive agencies known to man. And it's really unbelievable.

When people protest simple things they're completely unwilling to take any input from the public. And I don't know I haven't really thought much about the city taking over the MTA. There are some things that trouble me – keeping more than one set of books, raising fares, cutting service, not really giving the people who live here a say in how the agency is run. I want to note that there's going to be a Transportation Bond Act on the ballot that impacts MTA and their future projects, particularly the Second Avenue subway, but other projects across the city and the state as well. And if you are in favor of the Second Avenue subway and other infrastructure enhancements to MTA then I would urge you to vote yes on the Transportation Bond Act in November.

HEALTHCARE

Q: How would you manage health care in New York City?

Jessica Lappin: Well, I'm not a provider, and we have one here I'm sure he's going to talk about his ideas. But I have tried to find ways to bridge the gap. I think there should be universal health care in this country. I think that there should be universal health care in this country. Until that happens, until the Constitution mandates that we provide our citizens with care, for me, that's part of what being a Democrat means, is taking care of people who should have access to health care and not leaving our poor and our seniors to lie ill and die in their homes and on the street.

I have tried to find creative ways working with the community to bridge the gap. The city is somewhat limited in what they can do, by offering free mammograms to those without health insurance. Working with neighborhood health last year when we were getting panicked calls from seniors during the flu vaccine shortage with people who were afraid that they wouldn't make it through the winter, finding a way to get almost all of our seniors their shots. I've tried to find creative solutions to a really difficult problem.

Joel Zinberg: The problem of health care in New York is kind of a microcosm of the country. I think a good example of misguided attempts by the current City Council is the Health Reform Act they recently passed by overriding the mayor's veto. And this was termed by an editorial in the New York Times as such chop a block solution for local governments of what is indeed a national problem.

The council decided they were going to require... they start off with a very broad idea then they finally narrowed it down to large grocery stores and... they were going to require them to provide health care. I submit, and I think the Times agrees, that, number one, it's probably pre-empted by federal legislation. Number two, it's just a bad idea. A single locality cannot mandate something, then it puts itself at a tremendous disadvantage.

What we need to do in health care is we need to be innovative, we need to, for example, my idea for reforming Medicaid utilizing our resources so that we can save that $500 million and then actually use the $500 million for things like hiring more teachers, for firefighters or police, or, heaven forbid, letting people actually get health care with that $500 million rather than throwing it out the window. I think you also have to look seriously in involving the community in breast cancer screenings. I have done— I didn't just arrange for breast cancer screenings, I was there, I performed it as a public service, and I've done it for ten years. I ran the breast clinic at the city hospital. I was trauma surgeon at a city hospital. I know about disaster planning. This is something you need someone with real-world experience to approach.

MARINE TRANSFER STATION AT 91ST

Q: Next questions is very much a neighborhood issue. What are your positions on the 91st Street marine transfer station?

Joel Zinberg: I have publicly and repeatedly said that I am against reopening the 91st Street marine transfer station in any form. I am very concerned that we have heavily residential community, we are talking about retrofitting and doing construction on a station which sits immediately adjacent to the Asphalt Green Recreation Center, where thousands of children go every week for recreational purposes. We are talking about a road that bisects that center. I am against opening it in any form.

Now, I think here is an area where I am clearly different from my opponent. She has said on several occasions including the September 7 debate, on her Web site, and in her answers to Citizens Union as reflected in their primary voter guide, that is OK with her if they open that station as a recycling center.

I think that gives you no advantage and gives you all of the disadvantage. Because you still have to do construction. You still have an active road; you still have trucks on the street; you still have snarled traffic; you still have pollution; and you still have a station that endangers our kids. So I am against it. And I can't not figure out why she is not.

Jessica Lappin: I am happy to have an opportunity to clarify my position, which maybe you have misunderstood, which has been consistent with that of the community. The city has been overburdening communities throughout the city unfairly through this current plan, which is in place. And I think the next solid waste management plan has to address that. The answer is not putting a garbage station in the heart of a densely populated residential neighborhood and a public park.

The mayor, for some reason, is dead set on opening a garbage station on 91st Street. Working with the community, I testified at City Hall, I helped organized rallies and letter writing campaigns, and we convinced the chairman of the sanitation committee and the majority of the City Council that we were right.

Unfortunately, when the land use application came up for a vote and the City Council turned it down, which would have ended this project, the mayor vetoed the bill and said we have to have a garbage station there. And in that time frame, the Gracie Point Community Council executive committee, Asphalt Green, and the speaker of the City Council all worked together to come up with a potential compromise to help negotiate with the mayor a plan that would be less devastating and that involved recycling.

That hasn't worked. We are back to square one. Community council is no longer supporting that position. They are currently filing papers to litigate this matter. When this comes up next term, if I am in the City Council I am going to do whatever I can to defeat the mayor because we can not, should not, have a 24 hour a day, six day a week commercial and residential facility in the heart of our residential community.

PAST EXPERIENCE

Q: How will your past experience define your work in the City Council and give you an advantage as a member?

Jessica Lappin: I have worked in this community over the last seven years as a volunteer, as a senior level staff person at the City Council, as Gifford Miller's district chief of staff working on the ground with tenants, neighbors, seniors, community activists, and transportation advocates to improve our quality of life and to tackle the issues that are important.

When it comes to education, I am in the schools, I visit them twice a year, I meet with the principal, I go to the PTA meetings so that I can hear what the issues are and help to address them.

When it comes to working on transportation issues, I meet with transportation advocates, whether its discussing the Second Avenue subway and discussing how that is going to impact the community and how we move it forward or pushing for bus rapid transit on First and Second Avenues. I have been the community, on the ground, and will be an effective advocate, and hit the ground running from day one.

Joel Zinberg: As I said before, when you hit the ground you have to know which direction you are running in. And if your only perspective is that you've worked for a politician for seven years and you have never been in the real world, I would argue that that is not the appropriate perspective, it's not the perspective of your constituents. When I say real world experience, it is not simply an abstraction. It is not simply a slogan. It is a prerequisite for knowing what is important and what is not important.

So when I talk about health care, it is because I worked in a city hospital for ten years, I ran a breast clinic there.

When I talk about a disaster plan, it is because I was a trauma surgeon for 10 years at a City Hall.

I know what it is to deal with emergencies and those kinds of situations. When I talk about Medicaid, it is because I had that experience.

When I talk about the Second Avenue subway, it is because I ride the Lexington Avenue line and I know that the Second Avenue line probably won't be built in any of our lifetimes whether the Bond Act is approved or not. And we need to improve the Lexington Avenue line now.

When I talk about education, it is because I have been a professor at Columbia Law School and a professor at Mt. Sinai and Columbia Medical School, and I have four-year-old daughter who will be attending public school next year. Because you see some candidates have actually thought about where their daughters are going next year and they have spoken with their wives about it.

CLOSING STATEMENTS

Joel Zinberg: This November 8th, New Yorkers who living on the Upper East Side in District 5 have a choice. I think it's a crystal clear choice. They can continue the progress that New York has made under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations. They can do it by reelecting Michael Bloomberg. They can do it by electing council members who will work with him. And not toe the party line and work reflexively against him.

They can elect someone who has real world experience. Or they can elect someone whose sole experience and sole qualification is that they worked as a political aide. They can elect someone who has innovative ideas, thinking outside of the box. Someone who wants to save $500 million in Medicaid fraud and abuse. Someone who would like to improve the Lexington Avenue signaliing line so you have greater capacity now while we wait for the Second Avenue Subway line to be built. Or you can elect someone who repeats the same old tired nostrums that we have heard for years and years, the same sound bites. They can elect someone who is independent, who is not afraid to say what he believes regardless of which party is involved. Or they can elect somebody who is the product of a political machine. They can restore integrity and two-party balance to the council. Or they can continue business as usual.

I offer a fresh alternative to the council, which is dominated by poliiticans who have little private sector experience. They live in a hermetically sealed world, which I think destroys their perspective. They are more concerned with debating national and international issues, than addressing local problems. They are more concerned about their own political advancement than with the interests of their constituents.

I think Michael Bloomberg said it best when he endorsed me, and I will quote him; "I know that district 5 needs someone like Dr. Zinberg who has years of real world experience to offer. His many years as a surgeon, lawyer, and professor and volunteer in the community make him exceptionally well qualified for the City Council. He continues to impress me with original and innovative ideas. This November 8, please vote for Dr. Joel Zinberg who will be my partner in continuing to move this city forward."

This November 8, please vote for a fresh perspective. Vote for someone with real world experience. Vote for a change. Thank you.

Jessica Lappin: It's been a pleasure to be here, talking about my record in the community, tackling the issues that I think are important. And there a couple we can get to.

I want to discuss briefly part of what makes this city special, is that it is the cultural capital of the world. The City Council has historically been a defender against the mayor's repeated attempt to cut funding for our parks, our libraries, for our cultural institutions, not just the Met and the MOMA, but smaller institutions like the York Theater and the Turtle Bay Music School, that make this city special. I think it is important for the next council to continue to stand up to the mayor and to do that.

On public safety: we are the safest large city in America and we have to keep it that way. I am very proud to have been endorsed by the police union, the detective, and the firefighters because I have proved that I am dedicated to public safety.

And I am proud to have received the endorsement of our Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, or State Senator Liz Kruger, of Assemblymember Bing and Granis, the League of Conservation Voters, National Organization for Women in New York City, because I have shown that I am an independent voice for progress and reform, willing to tackle the issues, to stand up, to speak out when its important and necessary. The New York Times said that "steely resolve, dedication and energy" that would serve the residents of this district well. And I hope that on November 8 that I can count on your vote and your support.

 
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