The Race for Mayor
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: MAYOR

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First Televised Mayoral Debate, August 21, 2001

ANDREW KIRTZMAN: Good evening and welcome to the NY1/New York Times Democratic mayoral debate. I'm Andrew Kirtzman, and this is my colleague, Joyce Purnick of The New York Times. We are coming to you from the studios of CUNY-TV in Midtown Manhattan. . . .

So my first question goes to all the candidates. Maybe we'll start from my left this time.

A recent New York Times poll shows that New Yorkers now hold a more optimistic view of their city and its future than in any time in nearly a quarter of a century. You all like some of the things that Mayor Giuliani has done and dislike some of the things that Giuliani has done, but clearly a lot of New Yorkers like a lot of the things that Rudy Giuliani has done as mayor. Look into the camera and tell New Yorkers exactly what aspects of the city you will guarantee will stay the same or get better for the next four years.

PETER F. VALLONE: Since I've had the privilege of working with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his predecessors, Mayor David Dinkins and Mayor Edward Koch, I worked alongside the three of them and it took not just one person, but it took a lot of work to get the city where it is today, and I like to think that I had something to do with it. No mayor can do this alone. The mayor has to work very closely with the City Council, arrive at a consensus, and I think we did that. Not only have we adopted 12 on-time balanced consecutive budgets, and not only have we made this city a much safer city, but we also built up a surplus of over a billion dollars for this city to go into the next century, and I think that that's something we should be proud of, without raising a solitary single tax.

KIRTZMAN: So what aspects of city life will you guarantee the voters of New York will either stay the same or get better while you're mayor over the next four years?

VALLONE: There's no possible way that I would ever let the city become unsafe again since I'm the one that created the Safe Streets, Safe City program, which is responsible for the 10,000 cops that we had. What Mayor Giuliani did with those 10,000 cops is to come up with a Compstat system, which gets the kind of accountability for the police officers to make this not only the safest city in town, but to set an example.

KIRTZMAN: Mark Green.

VALLONE: It's the kind of things we should be doing for the other agencies.

MARK GREEN: I guarantee that every service will either be as good or better. Why else would I be running? I promise you no - through no effort of mine will any service get worse. There are four areas that count. First, a chief executive in New York City, any city, is held up to the standards of is crime down and lower, and are test scores high and higher. And so I'll do everything feasible not only just to keep the good news on crime, but continue the good news on crime by more creative strategies on community policing and swifter, surer discipline. So crime goes down with misconduct. Second, how do you get test scores up? The Board of Ed. is broken. I want to change it by assuming more mayoral control and focusing on smaller class sizes, the instant that kids are biologically ready to learn or not, K to 3.

The other two, Andrew, are we have to build more housing, not more stadiums. Unless we have more housing, my daughter won't be able to leave home ever and companies won't move here because their employees can't afford to live here. None of this can happen without going beyond Rudy Giuliani. And racially and by borough uniting a city that's been all too divided under him.

KIRTZMAN: Guaranteeing that all the city services are going to be better when you finish your mayoralty is a tall order.

GREEN: I didn't say that. I said I guarantee that all will be as good or better.

KIRTZMAN: Are you willing to guarantee that if they're not as good or better that you won't run for re-election?

GREEN: Of course not, that's up to the voters to decide. Joe Namath predicted victory when it was brash. He won in '68 when the Jets beat the Colts. Allow me, in the spirit of Joe Namath, to predict on running to make the city better by 2010. I'm not looking backwards, Andrew, I'm looking forward.

KIRTZMAN: Fernando Ferrer.

FERNANDO FERRER: Undeniably, New York City has gotten better in so many respects in the last eight years, but I do not view the last eight years as an unalloyed success. Just ask the New Yorkers who can't find a decent place to live at a price they can afford, or the parents of New York City public school children who are still deeply conflicted about their public schools, finding too many of those children trapped in schools that cannot succeed. Or the one out of four New Yorkers who has no health insurance and no decent and reliable access to health care. Or too many New Yorkers who find themselves on the wrong side of the divide of distrust with their own Police Department. Those are the things that need to change to bring this city to the very next level.

KIRTZMAN: What aspects of city life will you guarantee New Yorkers will remain at least as good as they are or get better?

FERRER: Undeniably, every New Yorker's personal sense of individual safety and security is the predicate for a civilized life in this city. And that's the thing that we must - you'd have to be crazy not to say I will devote my administration to dealing with.

But there are also other problems that do affect the quality of life. How can anyone deny that having a decent and affordable place in which to live, a good school to send your children to, decent and regular access to health care and a good relationship with your own Police Department are predicates for stable family living in New York City?

KIRTZMAN: Alan Hevesi.

ALAN G. HEVESI: I guarantee that if I am the mayor, there will be not one step back in the fight against crime, that the Police Department will be recognized for the extraordinary job that it's done, that we will raise the salaries of police officers and we will also deal with the issue of police misconduct. I guarantee that we will have a substantial affordable housing program. I've identified several revenue streams that are new that will be the basis for that program. I guarantee, as well, something my friends and colleagues haven't touched on: that the city will be more business friendly, that we will partner up with industry and business to provide the kinds of services that are needed, industry by industry, profession by profession, in order to increase their ability to do business here and to prosper, because when they prosper we then have the resources to meet our mission. And our mission is to help poor people and to provide affordable housing and help the ill and the elderly - a very, very substantial social agenda. And I guarantee that the single most important focus in my administration will be reform of the public schools. Please ask me how we will be doing that.

KIRTZMAN: O.K. We will get to the public schools in due time. Joyce.

JOYCE PURNICK: Hi, everybody. Let's stay for a moment with crime since you all mentioned it and since that's the No. 1 priority or close to it among many New Yorkers, according to that Times poll and other polls. You all have praised the crime drop. You have also indicated that you're going to make major, or at least significant changes in the management of the Police Department. How do you guarantee to New Yorkers, many of whom have said in interviews that they're a little worried about backsliding - how do you guarantee that you're going to make sure that we don't backslide, that we have strategies that will continue to fight crime? In particular, can you tell us, therefore, which strategies you think work - those of the Giuliani administration --

VALLONE: Let me --

PURNICK: -- and which do not. Why don't we start with you, Mark Green?

GREEN: The Giuliani administration began at the same time that parallel processing took off. They brilliantly used --

PURNICK: Parallel processing?

GREEN: -- computer mapping. They brilliantly used computer mapping to track crime by borough, by neighborhood and by block. And if, on Utica Avenue or Fordham Road, grand theft auto was up, that precinct commander had to have an answer what - how to respond. That kind of mapping and accountability has worked. That kind of holding someone responsible has worked. Second, the quality of life policing - basically Commissioner [William J.] Bratton later explained, the idea was to, if a kid jumps a turnstile, there's some higher probability he has a gun on him. So with lesser offenses, you can pat someone down lawfully and get guns off the street, which has also worked. We're now at a limit though. If cops and communities, especially communities of color, continue to have this angry mutual stereotype of each other, crime reduction may stop. I am very interested in lowering these barriers between cops and communities. So cops on the beat need allies on the beat, reporting crime, providing evidence, saying there's a drug den over there, Officer Smith, let's work on it together. The city investing in community-based organizations so there is this kind of proactive, not just reactive, policing. Chicago has done it, San Diego has done it, Boston has done it. I know we can do it.

PURNICK: Mr. Ferrer.

FERRER: At the very same time, Compstat, an important innovation in administrative feedback and accountability, was born. A good thing in this city. At the same time that happened, community policing was dismantled in the very opening days of the Giuliani- Bratton police administration. That planted the seeds for an enormous number of the problems that we've seen develop over the last eight years. And bridging that gulf of distrust between people and their own Police Department is important in restoring a relationship that will at the end of the day keep everyone safer - the police officer who does their job heroically every day, and community member who wants to live in a safe, well-patrolled, decent neighborhood on a safe, well-patrolled decent block.

PURNICK: Mr. Hevesi.

HEVESI: Mark and Freddy have dealt with one part of a problem that you raise, that has two parts to it. You asked about the strategies for policing. One, sustain the police force at or near 40,000 police officers so we have the manpower to do the job. L.A. has 9,000 cops; we have 40,000.

Two, there are new deployments that are required, and community policing is part of that because the world has changed. There aren't 2,200 murders anymore. They have been reduced by 72 percent. And the crime rates have been reduced by 63 percent. So you have to start thinking about de-emphasizing the street sweeps and increasing the manpower and the ability of precinct commanders to do their jobs in their locales, working with local leaders, community leaders, elected officials, preachers and so on.

Third, new technology. The Compstat program was a technological breakthrough. It has to be sustained and continued because it's the basis for performance standards. It's how you measure precinct commanders. But you need to have a camera in every car and a camera and a recording device in the precincts so that the confrontations between citizens and the police are now recorded, and that will affect their behavior. You need mobile computers so that the identification of a suspect can be done immediately rather than spending half a day going back to the precinct and using the Teletype or whatever we use to find out from Albany. There's a lot more, and I know you want to restrict our time.

VALLONE: You could use my time, Alan, if you want.

HEVESI: May I? I'll take advantage of that, Peter, trust me.

PURNICK: Mr. Vallone.

VALLONE: The difference between my colleagues and I is they can talk about this, but I've actually done it. You asked, your specific question was how - what would you do to make it different? Well, I signed, and I'm the only one here that signed a piece of paper called Safe Streets, Safe City in order to earmark our taxes at a time when we had to reduce the budget by $2 billion. I signed a piece of paper together with then-Mayor Dinkins and the other leaders of the State Legislature, that we would utilize the 10,000 new cops by placing them in the neighborhoods, where they belonged. As a matter of fact, we put a head count in each neighborhood where we wanted those cops because no one on the Legislature or the governor trusted us to do what no one, ever, else had done.

What I would do immediately is to go back to what I signed, the promise that I made. And the promise that I made is that everybody in this city would know their police officers, and the police officers should know their neighborhoods. That's the best protection that you could possibly have. We would use what Rudy Giuliani brought in terms of the Compstat and the computer techniques that he brought in, but we want to see those police officers, we want to see those police officers on the street and that's the best crime prevention in the world.

GREEN: Peter is right, he's the only one who signed that paper on this panel and the only one who came forward and sued Howard Safir when he and the mayor denied police misconduct existed, found a pattern of the department protecting rather than punishing officers who routinely racially slandered kids in communities or used excessive force. And I helped triple the rate of discipline at the department. That's not enough.

And so I have laid out a plan to help cops on the beat. I've been meeting with cops privately without brass around. They are miserable, feeling underpaid and under appreciated. So I want to invest in precincts, because where you work reflects what the top brass think of you; invest in tuition assistance up front. The higher the education levels at the start, the less the misconduct and the greater the productivity.

PURNICK: Stop-and-frisk sweeps. Would you discontinue them, modify them, beef them up? What would you do about them?

GREEN: Assemblyman Denny Farrell once creatively said stopping and frisking these kids is great, if it's not your kids. Racial profiling is wrong, it's illegal under federal law. Should I be mayor, I'll stop it by issuing an executive order and guidelines when you stop and frisk’§|

VALLONE: Let me just add that racial profiling already is against the law and we have a bill on tomorrow that the City Council is on the verge of passing which will give us the statistics that are necessary from the Police Department to find out whether racial profiling -

PURNICK: So You'll discontinue sweeps or modify it?

VALLONE: No, we wouldn't discontinue. I think stop-and-frisk can only be done when you have reasonable cause to do that. You can't just willy-nilly stop and frisk anyone. The City of New York is paying hundreds of millions of dollars in damages out. So you have to modify it, clean it up and make sure that you've got the right people you're stopping.

PURNICK: Mr. Hevesi.

HEVESI: I think there are clear guidelines that were sometimes ignored by the police during '94 and '95. You are allowed to stop and frisk, and you are even allowed to profile. If a crime has been committed and a witness says the - I saw the guy do it, he was a 6-foot redhead, the police are allowed to stop 6-foot redheads in the neighborhood, in the immediate vicinity. What is not permitted is the random stopping of young black males or Latino males in the hopes - even though there's no crime, there's no connection. . . .

PURNICK: Mr. Ferrer.

FERRER: Stop-and-frisk policy must always adhere to constitutional principles. Stop- and-frisk policy run amok is racial profiling. So let's not get theoretical about it anymore, and put a human face on this. Couple lives in Ditmars Park, an upper-middle-class enclave in Brooklyn. Their home looks like it belongs in a magazine. Their 18 - just 19- year-old son, when he comes home too late and his parents recommend him take the car instead of riding the train too late, is prepared to be stopped, as he virtually is, every other night in that car. By the way, that young man, Frankie his name is, is black. That's the dictionary definition of racial profiling. That is what must be not talked into decline and into prohibition, which must be legislated into prohibition. . . .

PURNICK: Let me move to housing. . . . One of the issues that ranks very high in all the polls is concern about affordable housing. You all have plans. Even the most ambitious of the plans, however, would build, I think it's 150,000 units - I think that's yours, Mr. Ferrer - in 10 years. There's a coalition of housing experts who say we need a quarter of a million units built. There's no way - in 10 years - there's no way the city is going to be able to afford to do all of that. My question is: What can you, as mayor, do to stimulate the private sector, to encourage the private sector to build the rest of the housing that we need, particularly when economists say that the rent regulations that we have, and other restraints, are impeding the building - the private sector from building housing? How do we break that cycle? Let me start with you, Mr. Ferrer, because you're smiling.

FERRER: Thank you Joyce, I happen to like to smile about this subject: something I know a little bit about. In over 14 years as borough president of the Bronx, I've not only presided over and participated in the planning and execution of the construction of nearly 67,000 homes and apartments, but that changed neighborhoods. It changed markets and marketplaces. It did something else, too. It encouraged the private sector to build in other parts of the Bronx completely unsubsidized, save for the as-of-right tax abatements that they are entitled to, as any builder would in undeveloped land in this city, built several thousand units completely unsubsidized. That was a good development in the Bronx. And that occurs throughout the city where there is enough public sector investment. But something else needs to occur. To really open the faucets, get the housing we need, both publicly assisted for low-, moderate- and middle-income people and to get the private sector to step up as well, we're going to have to engage in very profound reform of our Buildings Department, not to merge it with the Fire Department, but reform it and make it more expert, get it away from its love affair with paper and get it into technology.

PURNICK: You would do nothing about rent regulations, rent stabilization.

FERRER: Well, I was getting to that. It's a very complex issue. I think we've got to keep rents affordable in this city. We've got to keep owners in the business of private rental housing. That's a very delicate balance. And no one is ever happy with the outcome. But what we must do is have a clear and transparent process, not merely for a rent guidelines board that assesses increases in rent on the basis of actual cost instead of projected cost, but since no mayor likes to give up power, this is one mayor who would to the City Council in an advise- and-consent procedure on every member of the rent guidelines board. Let there be full examination of their bona fides and their credentials. Let everyone have confidence in the honesty and accuracy of the process.

PURNICK: Mr. Green.

GREEN: The city project Housing First, New York Law School have done separate studies on this. And affirmatively we have to tell the Buildings Department to start building again. We need a gut rehab of a department where it forces citizens to hire expeditors who know the computer system that other citizens don't.

Second, we have to reduce the mob tax on building. It's not nearly as high as in the carting industry, but I have ideas other than just licensing tens of thousands of contractors and subcontractors to have independent private sector inspector generals attached to companies putting up units to reduce the cost by making sure organized crime doesn't come back in. And I've done a lot of work on that, obviously, in the carting industry.

But finally, very few cities - I would keep rent regulation and control as it is with vacancy rates going from 4 to 2 1/2 percent, Joyce, in the last four years this is no time to further decontrol apartments to the marketplace. Finally, almost no city I know does the private market put up affordable low- and middle-income housing, notwithstanding your colleague John Tierney's brilliant essays in The New York Times, and he's here today. I would keep rent control, and we have to have government coming up in my generation with the equivalent of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper, of 421A of Mitchell-Lama and should I become mayor, I have an idea on how to generate $100 million in fresh revenue to bond it and put up a lot of units. I will have an affordable housing summit with all developers, not-for- profits, union leaders, scholars to figure out the revenue stream and the creative government mechanism to build again.

PURNICK: Mr. Vallone.

VALLONE: Yeah, I'm very pleased that all of my colleagues have adopted my original idea that I came out with to start an affordable housing trust fund. And I showed where the money's coming from, from the additional real estate taxes we'll be getting from the sale of the World Trade Center. That could be leveraged to - $100 million is leveraged to more than a billion dollars a year. You could work with the partnership, like we have been doing with - and other not-for-profits to build the kind of affordable housing that is necessary in the city for people up to an income of $100,000, because we're not just talking about people with very low incomes, we're talking about holding the middle class in the City of New York. The only reason we still have a middle class, in many respects, is due to the rent protection that is absolutely necessary. But when you have a leader of the State Senate who says that rent protection is going to end in this city, we better start building affordable housing. The only reason we have any rent protection at all is because we have a housing emergency. We must build affordable housing in this city. You could fill that pot, Joyce. If you got another $100 million of revenue every single year, in 10 years you can have 200,000 units of affordable housing, which is the estimate of what we are short now. People have to have an option, people have to have a place where they can choose or none of our young people will ever be able to afford --

GREEN: I will imitate your good ideas, why not? But I have never agreed with spending the revenues from the sale and future taxes from the World Trade Center on housing. I want to keep Port Authority assets and sales to Port Authority purposes, which is regional transit, like the Second Avenue subway.

VALLONE: I was talking about the affordable housing trust fund.

GREEN: No, I know, but you want to spend - -

VALLONE: No, I showed you --

GREEN: -- the World Trade Center money.

VALLONE: -- where I'm getting the money. That's our World Trade Center, that's city money. That's city-owned property.

GREEN: You said you want to also spend World Trade Center money.

VALLONE: No, I said the real estate taxes that would be due to the City of New York based upon the sale or rental of the World Trade Center. . . .

HEVESI: Well, I've got to respond. We have more millionaires in this city than any other city. We have more poor people in this than any other city. And to have a stable middle class and working class, we cannot, at this time or in the foreseeable future, eliminate the rent control and rent regulation system. It would be an enormous dislocation to almost two million people. That's No. 1.

No. 2, I really encourage those who are listening and the press as well to find out the details of what I have heard my good friend Peter Vallone say any number of times, that you can take $100 million and leverage it to a billion a year. And I don't believe that's possible --

VALLONE: I issued a report on that, Alan, I issued a report on it.

HEVESI: Excuse me. Well, I'll be glad to read the report. . . . That doesn't make it - excuse me, Peter, you can take 100 million a year and commit it for a number of years, 15 years or 20 years into debt, and get $1 billion, but please don't keep telling people it's a billion a year.

Now, what I believe in is using those - I agree with Peter on the theme that you use the new revenue stream, real estate tax revenues from the sale of the World Trade Center, which is a $70 million net because right now the Port Authority does give the city $30 million in . . . payments in lieu of taxes, and you add to that what should have been part of a mix to create a housing trust fund, which is the revenues from Battery Park City, which are profits approaching $50 million.

And the third piece is you commit the comptroller to do what I have done through my seven and a half years, which is to use pension fund money, absolutely safely and guaranteed, to rehabilitate 10,770 units of housing. Then you can have a very substantial affordable housing program of 105,000 in four years.

PURNICK: Mr. Hevesi, if I can stay with you for a moment.

HEVESI: Sure.

PURNICK: How do you respond to the perception, which is shared, clearly, by the Campaign Finance Board, that you were trying to game the system by basically having volunteers run your campaign, volunteers in quotes, and not even having a campaign headquarters? I mean, what were you thinking?

HEVESI: Well, No. 1, I was thinking that the law permitted us to do these things, and No. 2, if anybody has that perception, they have to look at the facts. What happened? What happened is with all the tumult and the spinmeisters trying to create an impression here that you are identifying, the bottom line is the Campaign Finance Board and our campaign had a disagreement over one single issue: could a political consultant be a volunteer? That was the only issue. And that issue, we still think we're right, they think they're right. We didn't contest it. And ultimately it took an extra several days. We said, all right, we'll pay our consultant. And we are paying our consultant and the Campaign Finance Board had certified us to be in compliance, no fees, no fines, no penalties. And they released our $2.6 million in matching funds. So that's a misimpression.

KIRTZMAN: O.K., we are now at the stage of the debate where are going to ask each candidate to ask a question of one other candidate. So why don't we start with you, Fernando Ferrer? Who's your question for?

FERRER: Well, this is a question really for all my rivals in this.

KIRTZMAN: We're limiting it to one, if we could, we have time restrictions.

FERRER: Well, then if I'd pick anyone, I'd pick my friend Mark Green. In some of the most roiling debates about policing in this city, the protest that took place before One Police Plaza, it's peaceful civil disobedience over the Diallo shooting, killed in a hail of 41 bullets. My understanding is you declined to get involved in that. On the issue of the four cops involved in that shooting, you called for a report to be issued. You read the minutes of the commissioner's firearm control board and you promised after the inspection of that report you would come up with a conclusion on that. At our first debate, I asked all of my friends if they would join me in calling for the firing of those four cops. Common sense says they shouldn't be carrying a gun and a badge anymore.

KIRTZMAN: What's the question?

FERRER: Alan Hevesi joined me. What is your position on that today? Where do you stand on that.

GREEN: Sure. The Diallo killing was a horrible tragedy. Mayor Giuliani then compounded it with the travesty of him saying, `Oh, the four officers who shot him - they really didn't do anything wrong and one of them should go to the Fire Department.' I then demanded and got from Commissioner Kerik the files to see why Commissioner Kerik then whitewashed it. And what I found was that there was a direct correlation between the mayor's announcement and Commissioner Kerik's refusal to have a disciplinary hearing.

Freddy, there's a rule of law which fundamentally says you don't punish a civil servant, black or white, unless a court has found him or her guilty or there's been a disciplinary proceeding coming to a conclusion. I'm pleased that you agreed with me on the Sam Roberts show on New York 1 when you said, Sure, they can be transferred to the Fire Department because there was no disciplinary proceeding against it. Let me just say, last night, I --

FERRER: But should they still be cops?

GREEN: Let me just finish. Last - until and when a regulatory body or the commissioner or a court says they've committed a crime or violated the disciplinary rules, it's pretty risky for a politician in a campaign to tell a civil servant, `You're out of here.' Let me say, last night I got an unsolicited call at 10 o'clock from a man who said he was leaving for South Africa . . . and Saikou Diallo thanked me for speaking out on behalf of his family and his son and for all that I've done in his son's memory and to reduce police misconduct. I myself am satisfied with Saikou Diallo's conclusion of my role in this.

FERRER: But let me press the question --

KIRTZMAN: -- follow-ups.

FERRER: Forgive me. Mark, with all due respect, after the study of the report, after all this time has passed, do you believe, personally, that they should continue to work in the New York City Police Department?

GREEN: They shouldn't carry a gun. They shouldn't be on the street. But, Freddy, if you in the middle of the campaign - I think it's as wrong for Rudy Giuliani to say they're innocent before a disciplinary hearing as for a candidate to say they're guilty before a disciplinary hearing. . . .

KIRTZMAN: Alan Hevesi. . . .

HEVESI: Thank you very much. I was going to ask you a question, now I feel guilty about doing it, but I'll overcome that, Peter. Before the City Council now is a very important piece of legislation, the clinic access legislation.

VALLONE: Yes.

HEVESI: You've authorized the calling of a public hearing. Hearing is great, we know what the legislation does. Will you tell us now if you will set a specific time for a vote on that legislation.

VALLONE: As a matter of fact, I wish you were there this morning when we, you know I took testimony on it. We were listening to testimony from both sides. I don't believe in harassing anyone who wants to go to a health clinic, who wants to go to a house of worship, which is the existing law now. The purpose of the hearing today was to find out whether or not the law that I passed back in 1994, which gives the woman a choice to go, a free choice to go, to a health clinic for whatever medical consultations or information that she needs - and I want to make sure that that's happening. And I used the Brooklyn Museum as an example. . . . In the Brooklyn Museum situation, as a Catholic, I was very offended by the terrible exhibit that the Brooklyn Museum was showing, but the overriding principle was they had a right to show it. And I think that that's exactly where we're going to go with the clinic access bill.

KIRTZMAN: Can I? Forgive me, I'm not clear.

PURNICK: Didn't get an answer, I was about to say. Can you clarify?

VALLONE: Well, the answer is that the testimony's being taken today to find out whether or not there are any harassing incidents that have taken place that the police are not enforcing.

HEVESI: The question was are you prepared to tell us now that your scheduling a vote on this bill or not.

VALLONE: Of course not, not until the hearing's over. The hearing's still going on.

HEVESI: And did I hear you correctly, again forgive me for sounding contentious, that the overriding principle for you --

VALLONE: It's not that you're sounding contentious, you are contentious. The overriding principle is freedom, yes.

HEVESI: Freedom for people to get into the face of a woman going into a reproductive - -

VALLONE: No, freedom for people to exercise their right to protest, and you're not going to take that away.

HEVESI: -- protest within 10 feet of a woman going into a reproductive health clinic.

VALLONE: The freedom, the right to exercise your right to free speech as long as you don't harass or disturb anyone's opportunity to enter a clinic or a church or a house of worship.

HEVESI: And you think it would be a violation of those rights to create a 10-foot buffer between the pregnant woman going into a reproductive health clinic --

VALLONE: What would happen if they asked you to have a 10-foot buffer before you could go shake hands to a prospective voter? I think, I think --

HEVESI: Let me, let me, if you ask me I'll be glad to respond.

VALLONE: -- the buffer, the buffer is something -

HEVESI: The analogy doesn't hold here.

VALLONE: I think it does.

HEVESI: Well, let me explain why it doesn't --

VALLONE: Harassment could be within an inch or it could be 20 feet.

HEVESI: The analogy doesn't hold because this is a health-care circumstance. A woman is now about to make a traumatic decision as to whether or not to terminate a pregnancy or to obtain other kinds of reproductive heath care. She's walking into a clinic and somebody who has come out of their home with the express desire to dissuade her can now get in her face.

VALLONE: No, that's not so.

HEVESI: Yes, it is.

VALLONE: Under existing law that's prohibited. That is absolutely prohibited. That's the law that I passed back in 1994.

HEVESI: No, sir.

VALLONE: And you should have been there testifying today if you have any evidence.

HEVESI: Peter, Peter. Even if you say that forcefully, it's not the case.

VALLONE: What do you mean it's not the case?

HEVESI: What your law said was she can not be physically blocked.

VALLONE: Not she, he or she, no human being can be physically blocked from going to --

HEVESI: Peter. Let me finish my thought and then you can disagree with me. They can't be physically blocked, but they can still step in front of this woman and scream in her face, "Don't do this."

VALLONE: Absolutely not. That is harassment. That is harassment and that is a violation, and she would be arrested if she did that.

HEVESI: So the National Abortion Rights Action League so the National Organization for Women, so the civil rights groups are all wrong.

VALLONE: They are they are testifying now, Alan, and I --

HEVESI: O.K. . . .

PURNICK: So I want to take us out of New York City for a moment, since this is an international city, and everybody has national and international policies in New York. I wonder what the four of you think of the president's decision on stem cell research. You think you can do that in less that three minutes?

KIRTZMAN: Peter Vallone.

VALLONE: [laughs] Yeah, that is another moral question that you have to leave to the experts. In terms of the president's agonizing decision, I still think that scientists are divided as to whether or not there's 12 options or 60 options. In my own situation, I would leave that to the experts. I am someone who doesn't believe that you should take one life in order to give another life, unless it's a different kind of circumstance. Here you're talking about creating life, and I would leave that to the experts. In my own personal opinion of it has nothing to do with the city of New York or the decisions that a mayor would have to make, but it has a lot to do with a personal decision that an individual has to make, same as what we were talking about in terms of --

PURNICK: That's why I asked.

VALLONE: -- clinic access or it's a question of freedom.

PURNICK: Mr. Green.

GREEN: A man came up to me at a Forest Hills subway in Queens and said, where are you on stem cell research? I said President Bush made a political compromise. If you are pro-life, if you want to do everything to enhance health and life the federal government would encourage research into these breakthrough technologies. He said, thank you, I have Parkinson's. I can not understand how President Bush could have come to this conclusion other than based on ideology.

PURNICK: Mr. Ferrer.

FERRER: This was a hopelessly compromised decision that, you know when you followed the logic of it, doesn't wash. If he was trying to appease the hard right of his governing coalition, what he has done is impeded important research that will save and enhance life for generations to come.

PURNICK: Mr. Hevesi.

HEVESI: I agree. Stem cell research will save lives. And it is the cutting edge of new medical care technology, and scientists should be free to find the life-saving methodologies that are so crucial to so many people in our society.

KIRTZMAN: Gentlemen, we have one minute left so I would appreciate a yes or no answer starting with Alan Hevesi. Will you support the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election.

HEVESI: I may, depending on the circumstances, certainly will support someone who is very much committed to democratic principles. But I'll make that decision when the time comes. I intend to win the primary so the question is moot.

KIRTZMAN: So you may continue on a liberal line?

HEVESI: I may.

KIRTZMAN: Freddy Ferrer.

FERRER: Like the Rolando Paulino All-Stars, I expect to be in the World Series, but I have always supported Democrats, and let me commit now to supporting the Democratic nominee.

KIRTZMAN: Mark Green.

GREEN: Yes.

KIRTZMAN: Peter Vallone.

VALLONE: Yes, no question about it. . .

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Find what city council district you are in -- and learn more about what's going on there, and who's running.


What is this?
Gotham Gazette's Searchlight on Campaign 2001 offers a comprehensive look at what is being called New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history. (See the left-hand column for an explanation).


Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone enndorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.


Register To Vote or Be A Poll Worker

Voter Registration Forms
After printing and filling out the voter registration form, please send them by mail to:

Board of Elections
32 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY
10004-1609

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Poll Worker Applications

After completing the forms, please send them to the address on the form.

You will need Acrobat Reader to view these forms.


Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
SavvyVoter.org
NYVote.com
Votesmart
NYPIRG
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
DemocracyNet
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart

E-Voting
Election.com

Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Media
Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Conservative
Democratic
Green
Independence
Liberal
Republican
Right to Life
Working Families
Communist
Libertarian
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Socialist
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
DL21C
Central Queens Greens
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.


Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)


2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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