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GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: MAYOR

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

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For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

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There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

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As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

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Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

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Second Televised Mayoral Debate, August 28, 2001

MODERATOR: KAITY TONG, WB11

PANELISTS: JIM WATKINS, WB11; LES PAYNE, Newsday; BRIAN LEHRER, WNYC Radio

CANDIDATES: PETER VALLONE, City Council Speaker; FERNANDO FERRER, Bronx Borough President; MARK GREEN, Public Advocate; ALAN HEVESI, City Controller; GEORGE SPITZ, Former NYC Auditor

ALSO PRESENT: JOSEPH O'HARE, Chairman of the Campaign Finance Board

DEBATE PROCEEDING

MS. TONG: Good evening, and welcome to our mayoral debate. I'm Kaity Tong and I'll be your moderator. For our viewers who would like to hear this debate in Spanish you can do it by switching to SAP on your remote control. Today's debate is sponsored by WB11 News, Newsday and WNYC radio. Let's get right to the debaters now. The candidates are, in alphabetical order, Bronx borough President Fernando Ferrer; Public Advocate Mark Green; City Controller Alan Hevesi; former New York State Auditor George Spitz; and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone. The candidates will be questioned by my WB11 News at 10:00 co-anchor Jim Watkins, Newsday assistant managing editor Les Payne and Brian Lehrer from WNYC radio. Now, the debate rules. The candidates may not bring notes or props of any kind but, they may take notes during this debate. Each candidate will get one question from one of our panelists who will have 45 seconds to answer, and each of his opponents will have 45 seconds to respond. Each panelist will then rotate and ask a different candidate a different question. The candidates know they must adhere to the time limit. They will get a yellow warning light when they have ten seconds left. They will get a red light when their time has expired. Gentlemen, if you are still talking when that red light goes on, I'm going to have to jump in and interrupt you so don't make me go there. After the question and answer portion, the candidates will each get one minute for closing statements. Before we get started, we have this message now from Joseph O'Hare, Chairman of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

CHAIRMAN O'HARE: Welcome to the first primary debate for mayoral candidates participating in New York City's Campaign Finance Program. The program gives matching funds to candidates who limit contribution and spending and agree to full disclosure of their finances. To qualify for matching funds, the City wide candidates must participate in debates. Information on the candidates and the debates can be found in the 2001 Voter Guide which you'll receive in the mail before the primary and again before the general elections. An interactive version of the guide is also available on the CFB website, www.cfb.nyc.ny.us. We hope you'll find this debate helpful as you prepare to cast your vote on election day.

MS. TONG: All right. Let's begin. Our first question will be from Jim Watkins to Fernando Ferrer. Jim?

MR. WATKINS: Thank you, Kaity. Mr. Ferrer, it is several months since your term as mayor, when it becomes clear that squeegee men are reemerging at intersections throughout the City. Let's say, just hypothetically, the squeegee men thinking that with the Giuliani Administration gone, for them, the coast is clear. Please tell us the specific steps you would take in your response to this.

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: First, Jim, the Ferrer administration will not give the squeegee guys or aggressive panhandlers any reason to believe that they can harrass or aggressively panhandle any New Yorker. Let's make that clear. One of the important aspects of quality of living in this city is a city that preserves and protects everyone's individual sets of safety and security. But having said that, we also need a Police Department that inspires the trust, confidence, support and respect of every New Yorker; a police commissioner who has the sense of balance about those things, who will continue to bring down crime, but also bring down those negative contacts between people and the police that serves them.

MS. TONG: Okay, Mr. Green, your rebuttal.

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: First I really want to thank WB11 and Newsday and WNYC for this chance to have our 90th appearance simultaneously or sequentially. And really, it is the best way to elect the next mayor. I, the police commissioner, if there is an uptick at some intersection the so-called squeegee men are back, it is not the hardest thing to invest officers in that corner to stop it. What is more important is to come up with a strategy to keep the barriers not just low, but even lower. And so I am such a strong proponent of more community policing with more cops on the neighborhood beat, like Chicago, Boston, San Diego are doing. Until and when we lower the barriers between cops and communities, especially communities of color, we'll never continue our crime deduction as we must.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: There cannot be one step back in the fight against crime. There has to be a continuous effort to sustain the police force at its current levels, with new deployments, with new technologies. And included in that formula is an absolute requirement that we do not retreat when it comes to quality of life crimes as represented in your question by the squeegee, the squeegee men. If quality of life means a Decency Commission, that will not be part of my agenda. I will eliminate the Decency Commission. But when it comes to fare jumping, and squeegee and graffiti, we will sustain that effort to make sure everybody in New York gets the idea we are not retreating on all out on crime.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: The problem is the Democratic Party has become too conservative. These squeegee people will need help. And I favor looking into some of the programs that they do in the Scandinavian countries, and getting them into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. These people need help and the government should give it to them.

MS. TONG: Mr. Vallone?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: I work alongside three different mayors to make sure this is the safety city in the country. I am the one that conceived the plan in the first place to put 10,000 more police on the street. There is absolutely no way I will let this City step back to where it was with squeegee men or anyone else. Under my community policing plan, I will make sure that the police that are assigned to that area or any area in the City not only know the areas and know the problems of the area, but know the people in the community. I think that the police officers serve a dual front, not just to stop crime like that or harassment like that from happening in the first place, but to give the perception to all of the people in that community that that police officer is there to serve them, and to prevent crimes from happening in the first place so they can be very sure they are taking no chance with me.

MS. TONG: Okay. Mr. Payne, Les Payne now has a question for Mark Green.

MR. PAYNE: Mr. Green, one of your opponents who happens to be sitting to your right here today, has charged that you were perhaps soft on the four officers whose shot Amadou Diallo, shot him 41 times and the 19th time. In the last debate you said it was wrong, it would have been wrong for Mayor Giuliani, it would have been wrong for Mayor Giuliani to proclaim those police officers innocent as it would be for the candidates here to proclaim them guilty. Now laying aside the question of innocence, we leave that to the jury who has already decided, I would like to know as the next mayor looking back that these incidents may happen again, at what point, if any, do you feel that those police officers use excessive force, whether it is a fifth shot, the 25th shot, the 39th shot or were they all okay?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: Les, I think no candidate on this panel or no official in this city has spent more time exposing and reducing police misconduct than I have five years ago before I was a candidate and it was easy to do. I sued the Mayor and sought an agency to protect rather than punish those errant officers that attained the heroism of all the others. In this situation, it was a horrible tragedy. And I can't sit here and say which shot was too much. They were all too much since he was an innocent man in his own vestibule slain. I am proud that Seikou Diallo and Congressman Charles Rangel worked with me and lauded me as I exposed the problem. The problem among others is that Mayor Giuliani short-circuited a disciplinary hearing before --

MS. TONG: I'm sorry. The time is up. I'm sorry. Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: We have a superb Police Department, among the best in the world. And the Police Department, by the way, should be recognized. They deserve a raise. They deserve strategies to improve morale. But it does not disintegrate the whole department to say there is a problem with police misconduct. I come at this a little bit differently than others as a claims officer for the city. In the last three years, not including 2001, we paid out $106 million in claims for lawsuits for police misconduct cases. And so there's got to be a systematic program involving holding precinct commanders responsible, cues from the mayor, stress management, ethic diversity training, more training sergeants for rookie cops, very elaborate program one which I identified in April of '99 with 19 different recommendations for reform.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: I took a poll in the Wiz store at 87th and Third where I purchase my hardware, TVs, all the salespeople are people of color, every one of them has been stopped. I don't know a single white person that's been stopped and frisked. I am totally -- will have an executive order as soon as I'm mayor, no more stop and frisk, no more entrapment, I'm opposed to the drug war. I favor legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing the other drugs, favor equipping the police with hand-held metal detectors, it won't be necessary to stop and frisk anybody when I'm mayor.

MS. TONG: Mr. Vallone?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: I condemned that as soon as it happened. No New Yorker should be shot 41 times; no person should be shot 41 times. I don't condemn the police officers and I don't condemn them now. I condemn the system that led to that to happen in the first place. That would never happen under my administration, because those police officers would be assigned to the community, they would know the culture of the community, they would know the custom of the community. That never would have happened. Since it happened, I put $21 million in the budget to retrain the police officers so they would be more familiar with the kinds of situations that might occur in different neighborhoods. Also I got the police commissioner and the mayor to understand that the police officers should be assigned from the borough itself, under my situation it would be from the precinct itself so that there would be absolutely no misunderstanding. Under our criminal justice system, once a trial is over, that's it, whether you like it or not.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: We know the men and women who work in the New York City Police Department do heroic work every day. And all they expect to do is to be able to come home in once piece every night for their family. No service, by ignoring this problem, is sweeping them under the rug. Now it's a fact that Amadou Diallo, completely innocent, and unarmed man, was shot 41 times in the lobby of his own home. But it is also a fact, it seems to me, that regardless of guilt or innocence, which was decided by a jury in Albany, the fact still remains that those four officers, did a tragically bad judgment that resulted in the killing of an unarmed and innocent man should not be carrying a badge, should not be carrying a gun, should not be working in the New York Police Department. That's common sense.

MS. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Ferrer. All right. Our next question from Brian Lehrer for Alan Hevesi.

MR. LEHRER: Thank you, Katy. Mr. Hevesi, Mayor Giuliani yesterday called you "ethically challenged" for the way you used your office to try to help a campaign contributor, try to get a business deal. What is your response to the mayor? And for the rest of you, you have all been very coy in reacting to this issue. Do you have a problem at all with anything Mr. Hevesi has done?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: Today the mayor, I'm told, called me a "wacko." So we are in a very interesting situation here where the mayor has decided after seven and a half years of not making these kinds of accusations, of trying to smear me, and true to himself and to the campaign. And the reason he is doing it is revenge for my exposure of corruption in the administration of Rudy Giuliani in the Maximus and other cases, and my exposure just this week of information from the Department of Investigations that the administration covered up pertinent information that would have been relevant in a court case regarding Maximus. So the answer is, the mayor is trying to involve himself in the democratic primary, and that's why I've responded very forcefully by identifying what he said as a smear.

MS. TONG: Okay, Mr. Hevesi, your time is up. Mr. Spitz, your response?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Yes. I think that this Maximus contract and the whole $500 million package of Welfare to Work programs is a set -- scam, equal to what went on in Tammany Hall in its heyday. It is ridiculous spending $500 million to do work to advise welfare recipients where to apply for jobs. That can be done by the case worker. The only reason these contracts are let out are to pay off politicians. That's the only reason. And the whole $500 million package is a waste of money. It could be better used for education.

MS. TONG: Your turn, Mr. Vallone.

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: Yeah, I made my position clear. I've known Alan for more than 20 years and I have no question about his integrity. On the other hand, in terms of the Campaign Finance Board, it is a very serious situation, it is serious allegations and I think that they're in the hands of the proper authorities and do not belong in this race in the last two weeks. It seems to me we ought to be proud of the law I sponsored and passed which is the Campaign Finance Law which says -- it takes that away, it takes corruption out of campaign finance. It says we are all limiting the amount of money that we can collect and the amount of money we can spend. That takes the incentive for corruption out of the picture. And I don't think it belongs here now. I think that the Campaign Finance Law as it's written is one trying to make a level playing field for all of us, and the issues should be decided in this race not anything else.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: You know, it is a little ironic my friend Alan and the Mayor use to greet each quite a lot. So really in the green room I congratulated Alan for now being on the business end of Rudy's barbs. I've been there for eight years so I know a little bit about how that works. But I'll tell you this, and I said it before for the public record, that this is a matter of impugning someone's good name and integrity. I've known Alan for a long time. He has an unblemished record in public service. This should not be a way in the closing days of the campaign to smear somebody's reputation, I don't think it's right.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: What counts is not fights in election year, but performance over the years. And in the past seven years when someone had to stand up to Mayor Giuliani and exceeded the speed limit, whether or not I did it, gave as good as I got and on. As for the specific charge, I do believe the criminal charge thrown at Alan is unsubstantiated and is incredible. I actually can never remember using my public office to help a donor or a bundler get a private contract, which of course is not criminal, but it's, I think, undesirable. Finally, I'm so proud that the night I won the election in '97 I said my number one goal was to have a Campaign Finance Law changed to have a more even playing field, and I was delighted to accomplish it with Peter Vallone.

MS. TONG: Okay. Now we are back to Jim Watkins, my colleague, who has a question for George Spitz.

MR. WATKINS: All right, Kaity. Mr. Spitz, traffic congestion is one quality of life issue that even the current administration has had very little success addressing. What are your short and long-term plans to make it easier to get around the city by car, and to reduce congestion and gridlock particularly in Manhattan?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Well, the problem is that we spend too much money on scams like the $500 million Welfare to Work program, the $1.1 billion given to the Stock Exchange to build a new building, the multitude in this buildings, the grants to major league sports. That's where the money goes. I would use some of that money, stop these scams, stop the money to the Stock Exchange, stop the welfare scams, and put the money in things like equalizing teacher salary, restoring free tuition. Regarding traffic, overpasses, build overpasses. That will save a lot of lives. It will help in this. But we got --

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz, I'm sorry. I must insist, I'm sorry. Your time is up. Mr. Vallone, your rebuttal please?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: We are going to bring the City to a halt unless we found newer and 21st-century solutions to our traffic problem. We have a convention center that would double and triple and quadruple its business if we had ways of moving people in and out of the West Side. We have a subway ditch that's been dug for over fifty years for a Second Avenue subway waiting for it …and we still haven't got the Second Avenue subway, and we still don't have the state and federal money that this city is entitled to to help us complete that. The next mayor must understand how important it is to have public transportation work, have public transportation innovatively done for the 21st century and make this City not stop where it was in the 20th century. If you can't get to traffic congestion, you don't deserve to be a person to lead this city.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: You know, unless you use a red light and siren, you are stuck in gridlock everywhere in this city forever; whether it is going crosstown in Manhattan or on the BQE. And that's just a fact of life for a whole host of reasons. One, we got to build a full-length Second Avenue subway. This city can't afford to do anything less. It unites four boroughs, four new population centers in four boroughs, and a host of new job creation and job road centers. But even more than that, we got to look at congestion pricing on bridges. Clearing traffic off of side streets so the traffic can move expeditiously from one side of the town to another, and bring down the cost of doing business in the City. Traffic is one of the biggest business killers in New York.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: Your question reminds me of the Yogi Berra aphorism, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." And that's true in our streets. There are small and large ideas. The small ideas, in '94 I started pushing for many more red-light cameras which can ticket people as they speed through a red light to deter speeding. We need car free Central and Prospect Park. We need low-tech mitigating ideas like speed bumps along Queens Boulevard; high-tech ideas like value or congestion metering, so if cars want to park in the middle of the day when it is expensive, they'll think twice. The big idea, more public transit, less private transit. And I've been pushing, if Tokyo and London can have a new subway system, why can't we after 60 years? The number one goal, a Second Avenue subway from the Bronx through Manhattan into Brooklyn.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: Let me build on the small ideas that Mark suggested, and the general theme that there should be big ideas. We have to have as priority a building of the Second Avenue subway top to bottom, and follow that up with a long-range plan for West Side development which includes extension of the "7" line out to the West Side. Third, I am an advocate of a rail freight tunnel under the harbor to reestablish that rail freight substitute for the huge amounts of truck traffic that are coming in and out of the city and, by the way, dramatically increasing our respiratory infection rates. And I believe also as a grand -- building a grand design, for restoration of the waterfront and transportation on the waterfront. There was a time in the city that you had a ferry service to connecting every location that was crucial to the city.

MS. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Hevesi. Les Payne, your question now for Peter Vallone.

MR. PAYNE: Mr. Vallone, the Secretary of State Collin Powell announced that -- yesterday that he's not going to go to the UN Global Conference on Racism in Durban. And as a Mayor of one of the great international cities of the world, would you at some level have sent a delegation to this conference? Do you agree with George Bush's administration's position? And what is your specific position on reparation for slavery in the United States?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: Yes, I would think the mayor is second only to the president in terms of world recognition. And it strikes me that I would do whatever I can to understand how serious the problem of racism is. But within the jurisdiction that I have as mayor of the city of New York, and one of the things that I've just done is to try to get the truth of whether or not we have such things as racial profiling existing in the city of New York by passing a landmark disclosure act which to which we will have our police, every arrest that's made in this city, every single stop and frisk that's made in this city. I want our police to be ambassadors of goodwill. And I want -- I work with representatives of every color, every corner, every culture of the City. And I think I've proven I can bring people together, not separate.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: The decision by Secretary of State Powell said the Bush Administration, in fact, has been asleep at the switch, for example, on the Commission on Human Rights at the UN, letting slave trading nations like Sudan be in the driver's seat. I mean, we have a moral obligation as a nation to speak up and speak out on human rights and civil rights abuses all over the world. And the mayor, even though we've got a lot of important things to do and I know every mayor has a foreign policy, should be stepping up to this one as well. Because the sons and daughters of those countries live in the five boroughs of this City. Let me say a word about racial profiling. It is good to have a law that counts numbers. It is better to have a law banning it, that's what I proposed a month ago.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: First, as to the Powell decision, whether a convention in the Middle East that was premised against bigoting statements against African Americans, America shouldn't cooperate with that because of that ugly precondition. And since that conference has anti -- says that Zionism is racist, which is absurd, and the United States had a right to say, get rid of that and now let's talk about racism. Second, Les' question had to do with reparations. I don't know a greater evil in the world than the slave trade in Africa and America. I worry that 150 years later, reparations is an unworkable and divisive way to cure it or to pay down the debt. The way to do that is smaller class sizes, more children on health insurance, since it is black and Latino children and families that are most discriminated.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: My first speech as controller day one on January 1, 1989 in the steps of City Hall was a call to end any form of bigotry in this City and to have zero tolerance for bigotry. The U.S. should be participating in a conference that deals with the issue of racism. And I know Peter Vallone didn't intend to create a different impression than he did when he said we have to find out if there is racial profiling. There is, not on the part of the department, not on the part of any particular command, but in individual cases. The question of reparations, I organized 900 financial officers in the effort to obtain and succeeded in obtaining restitution, which is different, from European governments for holocaust victims. We provided reparations as well to Japanese-Americans. Reparations does not mean everybody gets a check.

MS. TONG: I'm sorry.

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: I'll have to be able -- I'll do it in my next question.

MS. TONG: That sounds fine. Mr. Spitz, your turn.

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: I think I'm the only candidate running for city-wide office who takes a balance point of view toward the Mid-East. I'm opposing the Israeli occupation policies; the land confiscations; the collective punishments and the assassinations. I'm proud that I'm an orthodox jew, but I believe Palestinians have a right, have a right to live. And I think that our policies, U.S. policies, have been exacerbated by New York City mayors and other New York City politicians taking extremist stands on these issues.

MS. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Spitz. Okay. As they say in baseball, we've gone around the horn and we're back now to Fernando Ferrer. Brian Lehrer has a question at this time.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. Ferrer, in recent years, we had a temporary income tax surcharge in New York City to pay for building of the police force. You've proposed restoring that surcharge to pay for after-school programs, Mr. Hevesi has proposed restoring it for education. Would that be a pertinent tax hike? And why is that a good idea in as heavily taxed a City as this?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: Well, let me help you with a bit of your question, Brian and clarify it. It is one and a half points of a personal income tax surcharge that would result in the daily savings to the average working family of four pennies a day. Since being mayor is about choice, here are the choices I would make -- and these are tough and sometimes controversial. But the choice I would make is to give every working parent the guarantee that their child by dismissal time is still in front of adult supervision, out of harm's way and learning more. After-school programs in all 200 of our middle school. That's the choice I make. If it is between ballparks and housing, I gladly make the choice in affordable housing. If it's between a person -- a trivial personal income tax surcharge tax cut --

MS. TONG: I'm sorry.

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: -- and after-school programs, I gladly make the choice.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer, thank you. Mr. Green, your turn.

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: Brian, you're right. We are a very high tax City which can hurt growth. And the last moment, the worst moment we should think on raising taxes is on the brink of a potential softening of the economy or recession. I appeared with Mayor David Dinkins last week. He was the creator of the after-school program called Beacon School. I want to increase them. It would cost $25 million, which can be paid for by -- indefensible $300 million over-time budget at the Police Department. I have hundreds of millions of savings and productivity gains and labor savings and E-government that can and will be invested in smaller class sizes and more after-school programs. If at the end of that we need more revenue, I would invest it in our kids even at the cost of increased taxed, but that's the last not an eager first option.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: You really have to have [little] experience in dealing with budgets to make the kind of commitment that we just heard from Mark Green. The reality is that if the economy goes sour, we're going to have to make some very heavy choices and there will be real austerity. The truth is it was in a recession that Peter Vallone and David Dinkins did raise taxes, the 12 and a half percent surcharge on the income tax, for policing. And it worked. And my position is that while we supported a whole range of tax cuts, including eight business tax cuts, four of which we recommended during the boom times, what I had said is if we needed to, as a last resort, if the money from the state and the campaign for fiscal equity case doesn't come through, then a restoration of that same 12 and a half percent surcharge earmarked for education, so we don't lose another generations of kids as appropriate. And I want to violently disagree with Mr. Spitz' assessment of the Middle East, so the record doesn't think we ignored that.

MS. TONG: All right. We will go back to it. Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Before the war -- and I lived here before the war, even worked here before the war, this was a mean-spirited City compared to today: mediocre restaurants and stores, one percent sales tax, no income tax, built Queens College, Brooklyn College, libraries were opened until 9:00 every night, free tuition in the universities, spanned park space 50 percent, go on and on. Today, with a vibrant multi- cultural society, we have -- and an eight and a quarter percent sales tax and a huge income tax, we can't even pay our teachers properly or police and fire properly. We pay them less than Bridgeport or Newark.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz, thank you. The time is up.

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: The political culture is out of control.

MS. TONG: I'm sorry. I must insist. Your time is up. Mr. Vallone, please?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: Just to complete the last question, we adopted the McBride principle, the Sullivan principles, helped bring down Apartheid in South Africa by using the billions of dollars that we spent in our purchasing power, so we've been very active in terms of the City Council international issues. In terms of a surtax, I'm the one that instituted the sur tax together with David Dinkins, as Alan indicated, and I also promised I would give it back in 1998. It would not raise one single tax since. I kept that promise. We gave the money back. The Mayor wanted to use it to move Yankee stadium from the Bronx to Manhattan. I said absolutely not. I haven't raised a single tax. I reduced occupancy taxes and other obnoxious taxes in order to encourage business in the City. The worst thing that we can do now is when we have a one-billion dollar surplus, is to chase good businesses out of the City by talking about raising taxes again.

MS. TONG: All right. Jim Watkins, question for Mr. Green, please.

MR. WATKINS: Mr. Green, Candidate Ferrer Monday received the endorsement of the Reverend Al Sharpton, an endorsement that according to Reverend Al Sharpton, all of you would have liked to have had. While Reverend Sharpton is perhaps the most prominent African-American voice in the City, how do you balance any pluses that he might be bringing to the Ferrer campaign, with any baggage he might also be bringing specifically the Tawana Brawley incident, which he has never fully explained nor apologized?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: We all seek endorsements. I'm very proud that I've been endorsed by Mayor Dinkins, Assemblyman Farrell (phonetic), and Reverend Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church. But at the end of the day, voters know so much about a candidate for president or a candidate for mayor, that they don't look to surrogates for this investment of the free franchise that affects the quality of their lives and their children's lives. I don't have to balance Al Sharpton's career. He didn't endorse me. And actually I don't even have to explain the people who did endorse me. I'm proud that I gotten it. At the end of the day, I've been to so many communities of color, stood up to the Mayor on racial profiling and ending the Brooklyn Museum. Because of my leadership and courage over the years, I'm very confident I'll do well in communities of color independent of endorsement, which I love.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: Well, I congratulate Freddy Ferrer in the endorsement and therefore feel obligated to point out I've been endorsed by 51 elected officials, 17 of them are African-American. I believe those are substantially larger than any of the candidates before you today. I've been endorsed by the New York City Baptist Commission, commission of 350 Baptist churches in the African-American community, and the Guardians Association in the Police Department and any number of other organizations to indicate that no community is monolithic and all of us will have support in every one of the communities. What this election is about is substance. This is a huge, large job and it requires someone with a wide range of experiences that I hope to define in the next round of questions.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Several years ago, Percy Sutton asked me to meet with Al Sharpton and I prepared Social Security papers for Al Sharpton. I've written articles on Social Security. I will forgive Al Sharpton for not endorsing me if he will tell the truth about that $701 million, tell the country when he goes around the country running for president about the $701 million pension fund hit that New York City pension fund is taking and we're having to port into the tax payer's ever having to pay over the next five years. Al, tell them, don't put Social Security trust funds in the stock market. Look what happened to New York City.

MS. TONG: Okay, Mr. Vallone?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: George, I don't think Reverend Sharpton is ready to start collecting Social Security yet, but you never know.

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: I am.

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: In terms of endorsements, while they're very, very important, I think I was very gratified this week to receive the endorsements of divergent newspapers such as the Daily News, and the New York Post and Cranes, as well as Citizens Union. I think that they reflect the fact that I've had the experience and the opportunity to help make this City much better today than it was before. They also reflect the fact that I'm the only one talking about actually funding a health plan for every child in the City. So that no child -- we have over a million children that do not now have adequate health insurance. I can make that free and accessible, as well as prescription coverage for senior citizens who have to choose between prescriptions and food. I think that's an outrage, and I think we can handle that.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: I'm glad to have the help in this campaign of distinguished New Yorkers like Senator Monighan, Reverend Al Sharpton, Geraldine Ferraro, Congressman Charlie Rangel, and so many others. Let me tell you about an endorsement which isn't so high profile, her name is Reba Perry, she's a parent in Southeast Queens. She and 200 of her neighbors of her friends waited on the sidewalk three cold days, three cold nights to get their children enrolled in an excellent public school. Now, she understands that ground zero of the education debate was not in Milwaukee over a voucher scheme, it was right on that sidewalk. And in a budget of $40 billion, we've got to do better for Reba Perry, her neighbors, and everybody else who sends their kids to New York City schools.

MS. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Ferrer,. Les Payne now has a question for Alan Hevesi.

MR. PAYNE: Mr. Hevesi, your current squabbling with Mayor Giuliani over ethical issues seems to be giving you so much needed distance from this term limited mayor, who may still have a sting in his tail. Is this a calculated risk at the advice of your political advisors? And do you run the risk of having Giuliani's friends and supporters and backers… maybe even Ray Harding, lose their enthusiasm for you to the extent that they may profit?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: What a complex question. The suggestion that this is a calculation is a very wrong- headed suggestion. The dispute I'm having with the Mayor right now is triggered by the Mayor in his attempt to smear me because I revealed corruption in the Maximus and in the Hannock and in the Hughes Services contract investigation. And again revealed this week that there was a cover up by the Mayor, a cover up of information that it would have changed the court decision relevant to the Maximus case. So there is no calculation there. As a matter of fact, the kinds of exchanges I've having with the Mayor do not deal with the issues they should. I really do want to talk about how I have, I believe, the best record to reform the public schools and that I've been endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers, and about affordable housing, and about how we build this economy to deal with the recession that may be coming.

MS. TONG: Your rebuttal, Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Alan Hevesi provided a service when he exposed the Hannock contract and the Maximus contracts, not that they were improperly bid, that they were useless. And they're part of a $500 million package of useless contracts. Some of that money went to a Citizens Union Board member, by the way. We have Scam City. The money that could be spent for schools, housing, playgrounds, all goes into these contracts. No bid contracts which the Feering Commission said we shouldn't have recommended, and nobody has done anything about it.

MS. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Spitz. Mr. Vallone?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: Far be it from me to advise my good friend Alan, but I think the less talk we have about that, the better off this City will be. The people out there are more interested in what kind of vision do you have for the future of this City. I think it is very, very important that they look at the qualifications for each of the candidates and. What separates me, actually, is the fact that I worked alongside three different mayors in all of the matters that we're discussing today. There is no chance whatsoever I will ever let this become an unsafe city. And I think you have to make bold decisions like people did 100 years ago when they built our subway system. A bold decision is to make sure not one city child is without health insurance, and that not one senior citizen has to make choices between prescription coverage and food. We can do that. There is enough money in our budget to set aside -- which I've identified -- to help the people who are most vulnerable and need that help. That's what we should be talking about.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: You know, reading some of the newspapers, it would seem that this is a crisis in this City. I think the real crisis in New York is not dis -- charging county charge, but too many New Yorkers being priced out of affordability in their own City. 1.1 million school kids who are treated like a political football every day of their lives, while a bunch of politicians argue about blowing up the Board of Education or vouchers or privatization. We are not for New Yorkers who do not have health insurance; no reliable access for health care for themselves or their children. They got to wait on long lines for long hours in hospital emergency rooms. And to divide between the people and their own police department, while too many suggest that racial profiling is either a perception or doesn't even exist.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green.

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: Those are the crises facing New York.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green.

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: Rudy Giuliani is not on the ballot. And it is essential now not to look back and spat with him, but focus on the future and what are our ideas to make this great City even greater. That's why I released 100 ideas for New York Century in the CD ROM I sent people. And if you want to let me hear that you want it by calling -- by e-mailing me at markgreen.com, you will get it. There are eight talks I've given on every large subject. People have a right to know not only my record, which they have over the years, but my vision for this City. That's the tie breaker. Ideas for a 311 dedicated line so 911 is not overloaded; we have one portal for all hotlines; a tech pipeline to train workers in the new economy; more housing rather than more stadiums. This campaign, if I have anything to do about it, is about the future, not yesterday.

MS. TONG: Brian Lehrer now with a question for George Spitz.

MR. LEHRER: Mr. Spitz, a two-part question. Part one: Who are you and why are you here? Part two: If there is time, and for the rest of you, how will you grade Chancellor Levy's job performance so far from A to F?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: I had 20 years of government experience, I'm a retired state auditor. I'm here because I went to Mark Green and Freddy -- Sal Alberny (phonetic) withdrew from the race, and I went to Freddy Ferrer and Mark Green and I said, "You take my issues, I'll get out of the race and back you." We have scams. The City today is run worst than in the heydays of Tammeny Hall. $2.8 billion in contracts, a lot of them useless, under David Dinkins have gone up to $5.8 billion under Giuliani. You've heard some of these contracts. These contracts, which could be used to pay, equalize the salaries of teachers, police, fire.

MS. TONG: I'm sorry.

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: They are used for political payoff.

MS. TONG: I hate to interrupt you, Mr. Spitz, I'm sorry, but your time is up.

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: I said enough. MS. TONG: Mr. Vallone, your turn.

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: You didn't ask me, I would have told you. I think that you can't really grade Harold Levy yet. Because he came in for the business expertise that was necessary, but he's not really an educator. And we have serious problems now because the Chancellor is saying that he may have to make serious cuts in the classrooms next week when school opens. And I think that's terrible. And I've been trying to mediate the dispute between both the Mayor and his own necessity to make. All that I've ever asked from the Chancellor is accountability for the money that he says is cut, which has not been cut. We will put money into the classroom, but we will not put money into the bureaucracy. It is absurd that you could lose $2 billion in a month. I don't want these kids hurt whatsoever. We can do things to help kids by reducing their tuition in half if they get a B average or better and go to public university. I put that in the budget and it is working right now.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: I will tell you who I am. I am a guy who grew up in a five-story walk-up on Fox Street, didn't always have heat and hot water in the wintertime. That's what we could afford. When I talk about affordable housing, it is the from that vantage point. I'm the guy who wouldn't even be here for this broadcast if I didn't have the good education. It is made all the difference in my life. I wouldn't have survived the tough street I grew on, grew up on if it were not for an after- school program called the PLA two blocks away on Kelly Street. Those are the New Yorkers I want to talk for. Those are the New Yorkers who deserve a voice at this table.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: I'm not an expert on who George Spitz is, so I leave that to him. I want to talk about the education aspect, Brian, of your question. I give Harold Levy a B plus. He has done well in an impossible situation. First, as mayor, I want to lobby Albany to end the Board of Education as we know it. We give mayors say and I control over public safety, why not public education? I disagree with the Controller Hevesi who seems to think we should improve the Board of Education by expanding the bureaucracy and adding people on the Board. I think that's wrong. Second, I'll create a class size coalition of business, labor and parent leaders to find the will and the wallet to shrink class size K to 3. That's when kids get the best education and test. And finally, more technology in the classrooms is the way that our kids can be healthy, smart and safe.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: I would love to respond to the emphasis Mark Green places on governance. In the absence of a real reform program, it doesn't matter what the governance unless the governance has some special program to fix the schools. But having said that, in our last debate, I had the occasion to ask Speaker Vallone whether he would move a particular piece of legislation dealing with clinic access along. Now I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage him to find a vehicle for repairing the damage from the decision that was made by the Mayor and by the Speaker and the Council to take $120 million out of the operating budget of a school system that is opening next week.

MS. TONG: Jim Watkins, your question now, please, for Peter Vallone.

MR. WATKINS: Mr. Vallone, it has been written and said in recent weeks that Candidate Green, who has a solid lead in the polls, is essentially coasting toward his place in the run-offs or perhaps as the outright primary winner, showing few signs, some believe, of the combative and progressivenessthat have made him a prominent political figure in the first place in this City. Do you agree with this assessment of his campaign and what would you like to say or do right now to shake up this alleged complacency?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: I would like to see him keep coasting right down the line, as we move toward a finish line in only another 11 or 12 days. But first let me say, Alan knows better to say we cut the budget by $120 million, because we didn't. But I will not concern myself with Alan's misinterpretation of the budget process. But going back to what I think we should be doing. I think people are going to start paying attention now to who they're really -- who is going to be your next mayor in the City of New York. Which of these people that are sitting here, including myself, have had the experience of working and governing this City. I've worked alongside three different mayors for 12 years. There isn't been a decision that's made in the City, for good or bad, that I haven't been involved with. I have a record of service, and I have a vision for the future. I think the judgment that has to be made for Mark Green or any one of us is going to be made by or on September 11th.

MS. TONG: Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: You know, I can't account truly and sincerely for what Mark or any of my other friends are doing in this campaign. I can only tell you why I'm running. And it seems to me that people who are viewing this broadcast must be wondering, Why are we talking above everyone's issues? People are being priced out of being able to live in their own city. That's a problem. 1.1 million school kids are consigned to under-funded and overcrowded schools. That's a huge problem. We rob their futures when we do that. We are not talking in serious terms about after-school programs. We are not keeping them out of harm's way and offering them more educational involvement. No. I'm taking this campaign in neighborhoods across this City to let them know, I want to talk for them.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: If you want me to be feisty, I can yell at you for asking that question and answer it. But if I'm coasting, why doesn't my wife see me until ten o'clock every night? I think I'm doing well because I've managed two city-wide offices, Department of Consumer Affairs and now Elected Public Advocate, managed to put both on the map. The places that got real results: I got rid of cigarette vending machines because they were addicting our kids; I exposed police misconduct five years ago; I got Accessory to pick up our parents and grandparents on time by going to Washington and filing a legal action. I didn't just coast. I took initiative, legislative and in terms of litigation. That is elections, like battles, are won not in the last week of an election, but over years of service.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: I think it is a very appropriate question because there are real distinctions between the candidates. Mark Green, my good friend, is admirable when it comes to press conferences and press and asking questions and even bringing lawsuits. But being mayor of the City of New York requires experience in the global economy. It requires experience as a manager, not running an agency of 40 people. It requires legislative experience. I have voted, for example, 50,000 times as a member of a legislature on every single contentious issue that affects people's life. Mark Green has not done any of that. And so when the voters finally focus on the credentials of the candidates, the candidates and their potential, I think you will see a different result.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Yeah. We have a terrible infrastructure. Just look at our roads and streets and compare it to virtually every city. A lot of this is due to the fact that patronage and the contracting process, and the humiliation that the professional engineers were supervised by people from political clubhouses. Now, Alan has a very good engineer in this staff, Roger Lieworth (phonetic). I don't know of any engineer on the, Mark's staff, but we need, the City needs engineers, and they should not be supervised by people from political clubs. And that's what's going on in New York City today. I intend to appoint a deputy mayor for infrastructure who is a professional engineer, and will straighten the whole mess of traffic and all these other things out by --

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz, thank you. Now, we are almost out of time, Gentlemen, so this is going to be the last go-around. And that question goes to Les Payne for Fernando Ferrer.

MR. PAYNE: Mr. Ferrer, you have promised to raise the salary of city teachers by 30 percent across the board in the projected economic climate which is downward. How do you specifically plan to finance this, especially given the fact that other unions, police, fire, are going to line up? Also, how do you feel that after making this generous overture to the teachers, the UFT endorsed Hevesi?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: Go figure, Les. But let me tell you exactly what I've been proposing. First, a bold and very large raise for teachers. I want to treat teachers as the professionals they are, but I also want to demand more from the profession, more accountability; the ability to remove an unfit or unqualified teacher promptly now; and year-round training and teaching for teachers. And I've shown time and time again how I pay for that within the budget, within savings in the Board of Education. But apart from that, in a $40 billion budget, people who are viewing this debate must be scratching their head going, Why can't I have a clinic in my neighborhood? Why can't my teacher be the best we can afford? Why can't we have after-school programs? Why can't we have decent and affordable housing in every corner of this City?

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: Because test scores have been flat for a decade, half the kids who enter ninth grade don't graduate on time, there is no more important challenge to the 108th mayor than to fix our broken school system. My mom was a teacher. I visited 50 schools one-by-one myself to learn what works and what doesn't. And what I heard from teachers and principals is we need a big deal with our teachers: Pay more, especially bonuses for improved performance, if they go into a lower performance school, if they tutor younger colleagues; more professional development, like Anthony Alvarado did in district two; investing in teachers so they don't sink and swim; smaller class sizes. They really want that. It is good for kids, it is good for them. In exchange for more performance. Tax payers demand it, parents demand it, and I'll get it if I'm mayor.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: I'm proud I have the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers. The formula for good education -- by the way, some superb schools in this City of New York, as well as schools that are in desperate condition. But the formula is simple: smaller classes, it is geometrically better to have 18 kids than 25 or 30 in a class; a qualified, certified teacher in every class; parents trained to help their kids learn and save schools; and nothing more critical than having a certified, qualified teacher in every class. And the school system is growing by seven, eight, 10,000 students a year, and there are 85,000 kids without classroom right now. And Freddy is right, we have to have a closing of the gap in salaries between the teachers in this City and the surrounding suburbs. The differential is 25 percent right now.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz, you have 45 seconds.

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: My local school board, 65 patronage jobs in a luxurious school house, until recently until we moved to Hartford, the husband of a former borough president, $79,000 a year as director of external affairs. What kind of morale can the teachers and have parents have when you have a situation like that? You have a crumbling school at 91st and First right at the shadow of Gracie Mansion where the Mayor would send his kids if they don't go to private schools. We have enough money to aid the salaries of everybody if we cut the patronage, the contracting out of all our systems.

MS. TONG: Mr. Vallone?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: Yeah. I think it's time that we understand to get rid of the Board of Education as it exists; the politics of the Board of Education is interfering not only with the education of the kids, but many other things including the monies that have to go into the classroom. What we have to do is -- I have a plan, a realistic plan which would give $500 million more a year to our school system, together with the one billion dollars that is now owed to us by the state on an annual basis, together with the reform that must take place to give control of the destiny of our children to the people of the City of New York. When that happens, not only will we be able to get adequate salaries, but we will be able to go back to an excellent public education system which I think is not only possible and doable, but does exist in at least one third of our schools today in spite of a nonfunctioning Board of Education.

MS. TONG: Thank you, Gentlemen. I'm afraid we are out of time. That concludes our question-and-answer portion. Now each candidate will get one minute to deliver a closing statement. We'll begin with Fernando Ferrer. Mr. Ferrer?

BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT FERNANDO FERRER: Thank you. I'm running for Mayor because I want New York to work for every New Yorker. For the 1.1 million school kids who too many of them are trapped in schools that are under- funded and over crowded. Look, education meant everything to me. I want to make a difference for those kids. For the working parents who can't be home when their kids come home from school, I want to keep 200 middle schools in this City open so our kids are out of harm's way and learning more. For those parents who don't have health insurance and can't get decent health care for their kids, I want to have clinics in every neighborhood. In the context of a $40 billion budget we do so much better. And for New Yorkers who want a mayor to confront rather than ignore the real gulf that exists between people and their own police, I'll be the mayor that signs a law that bans racial profiling. There are some who think things are fine, just fine. Well, I don't. I think we need bold change in this City, and that's the mayor I want to be, the one that forges bold change.

MS. TONG: Mr. Green?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE MARK GREEN: With 200 different ethnicities and nationalities, living under one roof called New York, boy, are we an uncommon city, yet with common dreams. Irrespective of your language or origin, all parents want to better educate their children, better protect their families. Well, how do we get there? First, by focusing on the future rather than the past. If other candidates want to bicker among themselves or about the current Mayor, let them. I am relentlessly focused on positive, substantive, innovative ideas. Let's have community improvement districts like we have business improvement districts. That's one out of so many. Second, we need a mayor who can be a bridge between and among all the groups in New York City. I believe in the math of addition, not division. If you think I've gotten results and have energy, if you think I'm able to cross racial devise to bring us together, if you think I've been a fighter on your side for 30 years, be on mine in two weeks. Thanks for listening.

MS. TONG: Mr. Hevesi?

CITY CONTROLLER ALAN HEVESI: There are differences between the candidates. Three of my opponents, not including Mr. Spitz, have 37 years of experience in government prior to 1994. And if they take credit for the good things that have occurred since 1994, we will also have to enter into the debate the questions of what they were doing when we had 2200 murders and lost 320,000 jobs, and we had squeagy men, and we had graffiti, and we had fare jumping, and all the ills that now we are repairing. I bring to this campaign a breadth of experience that I don't think any of the other candidates have. I've been the representative of the City in the global economy; I'm the fiscal monitor under the budget, I have to certify the City's budget is in balance; I have 22 years of legislative experience making policy; 108 laws are authored by myself, a number have saved lives; I'm the manager of managers, our 800-person agency is the auditor for all other city agencies. And education is the key issue and I am the educator with the Ph.D. and the experience of 27 years in the classroom.

MS. TONG: Mr. Spitz?

FORMER NYC AUDITOR GEORGE SPITZ: Wayne Barrett and Jack Newfield (phonetic) wrote a book in 1988, "City for Sale." I want to take down that "city for sale" sign in front of City Hall and replace it with "Keep off the grass." I am the only vegetarian, road runner, senior citizen, veteran of World War II, civil servant, 24 points of accounting, the only advocate of free tuition, restoration of free tuition. I'm the only one that doesn't have any political endorsements, so I can take, cancel all these contracts, oppose the $1.1 billion give away to Wall Street, and put the money into equalizing teacher, police, fire salaries, etcetera. You have nothing to lose by casting a vote for me on the first ballot. You'll have another chance two weeks for now to vote for one of these other esteemed gentleman, but if you want to protest, vote for me on the 11th.

MS. TONG: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Spitz. Mr. Vallone?

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER PETER VALLONE: I've worked alongside three different mayors in the last 12 years. That's why all my colleagues agree that I'm the best Speaker in the history of the City of New York, since I'm the only Speaker in the history of the City of New York. I come from the neighborhoods, and I know what it was like to not have a cop on the street; I know what it was like to live in an unsafe city. And that is why I came up with a plan to earmark a portion of our income taxes in order to make this City a safe city. I know what it is like not to have an education system that's working because I still live a block away from Public School 122, the school that I attended for eight years. I know what it is like not to have affordable housing, because I have three sons, none of whom could afford to buy a home in the same community that I live in. And I know what it's like for senior citizens not to be able to pay for prescriptions that had to pay thousands of dollars out of their own pockets for, for prescriptions to prevent illnesses from coming. I have a 96-year-old man. I know what it is like to be on Medicare and to find out that you can't afford to stay healthy. And I know what it is like to see children, one million of them, who don't have adequate health insurance. I can take care of that. A good mayor knows how to handle more than one problem at one time.

MS. TONG: This has been most interesting. I want to thank you gentlemen very much, Fernando Ferrer, Mark Green, Alan Hevesi, George Spitz and Peter Vallone. You are all terrific. And also my panelists, Jim Watkins, Les Payne, and Brian Lehrer for being here. That concludes the 2001 New York City Democratic Mayoral Primary Debate. We hope you will get out and vote. Election day, as you know, is September 11th.

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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.

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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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