Excerpts from the October 7 televised debate between
Fernando Ferrer and Mark Green on WNBC
Q. Comptroller Alan Hevesi has estimated the cost of rebuilding
New York in the wake of the World Trade Center disaster at $105
billion. Hevesi said, "We took the hit for America." Where do
you think New York will be able to get that kind of money, Mr.
MARK GREEN Well, half of it will come from liability insurance. We have to
have a plan in place to go to Washington to get at least $40 billion in money
unencumbered by red tape and strings. Second, we need a state-city/
public-private redevelopment authority to do for us now what the emergency
financial control board had to do in the fiscal crisis of the 70's: gather
all the money and have the most creative ideas to make downtown Manhattan a
federal enterprise zone. And third, we need a plan for safety to secure our
people in this post-terrorist era. Within a week, Gabe, of the attack I laid
out plans on rebuilding the economy, safety and federal government.
Q. On the question of where we get the money, Mr. Ferrer?
FERNANDO FERRER Well, a lot of it will come from the globalization of
insurance. Those insurance proceeds will come back to the owners of those
buildings for the purpose of redevelopment. We'll get some money from the
federal government. I agree with Mark, we need much, much more. We did take
it on the chin for the rest of America. And I think the nation and the region
really owes us some higher level of assistance. We also need to have a
rational building plan to build immediately; 100,000 jobs are at risk today,
and if we don't build immediately and offer them space immediately, they're
making decisions now that may cause them never to come back to lower
Manhattan or New York City at all.
Q. Mr. Green has criticized you for saying that it wouldn't be a bad idea
to put some of the businesses outside of lower Manhattan while
the clearing out goes on. What do you say to that? Is it bad to
penalize Wall Street for what happened?
MR. FERRER This isn't a penalization of Wall Street. The fact is that by
Mayor Giuliani's own estimates the reclamation of the site will take at least
a year. For example, it will take up to three years to clear up and to repair
the PATH tunnel that came in right under the Trade Center. But more
importantly, if we don't act now to reclaim and rebuild office space for
businesses that are at risk of leaving and making decisions today -- The New
York Times this morning pointed out that real estate companies and businesses
are making decisions now about dispersing their employees. We've got to keep
them in New York City.
MR. GREEN Gabe, The New York Times and The Daily News rightly condemned the
borough president for not understanding how markets work and not
understanding that when the planes hit the twin towers there was collateral
damage in Queens: 50,000 air transport jobs. A waitress in the Bronx doesn't
have work because restaurants on Broadway are being closed. It is really
wrong and naive to imply and say that we have to disperse the communications
and financial services industry -- which Mr. Borough President said twice,
Sept. 20 and 30 -- out to the other boroughs. Julie's is on 47th Street,
electronics is in the Hub, tires are in Akron. Financial services was
concentrated there, it's 5 percent of the work force but 20 percent of the
revenue to the city. That's the money that pays for smaller class size and
more schools in Queens, which are so overcrowded. I think that is an
ill-conceived suggestion. They attacked there; that's where we have to
rebuild, not because of downtown Manhattan but to help and rescue the whole
MR. FERRER Well there's a couple of simple facts here. You know, we live in
the 21st century, the communications age.
MR. GREEN That's true.
MR. FERRER Forgive me, I'd like to finish, Mark. We live in the 21st century.
Brokers no longer walk across the street with confirmation slips. And that's
just a fact of life. We have to live in the real world. Businesses today . .
. are already making decisions to disperse. Now if we're going to respond to
immediate real-life needs we're going to have to build where we can until we
can start erecting office buildings on that 17-acre site that's owned by the
Q. Today's Times reports that if we have a mayor, Mr. Green says, that doesn't
appreciate that a big crisis requires big ideas and a nonpolitical
response, we could be in big trouble. Do you buy that statement
by your opponent?
MR. FERRER Well, you know, I'm disappointed. It was a little more than a week
ago that we both pledged ourselves to not launching negative campaigns. I've
counted before I walked onto this stage from Mark and his campaign 19
separate attacks. Now look, I had hoped this would be a different kind of
campaign where we'd discuss ideas and, as Mark put it, be relentlessly
focused on the future of this city. Let's do it in that way. Now to compare
our ideas is fine. To denigrate ideas and say, "Mine's a big idea and yours
is a little idea," is not only beside the point, it's frankly apart from what
there should be in this debate, Mark.
MR. GREEN It's not beside the point -- it is the point. The greatest municipal
crisis that we or any city has faced should test who responded well and who
didn't. And to say right away that, "Gee, I was the borough president in the
Bronx when there was rubble there, too." To compare this catastrophe -- mass
murder of 5,000 people, 100,000 jobs lost, $100 billion hit in the economy --
to the Happy Land fire and the blackout of '77, which was disastrous, shows a
lack of appreciation of the magnitude of the economic impact, the safety
impact and the federal impact. And so if The New York Times and The Daily
News say that your plans were vague and that my plans were comprehensive, how
else should voters judge us, Freddy, unless how we respond to the greatest
crisis in our history? Why can't we compare our records and our visions?
MR. FERRER I would like to do that if we can get beyond your flurry of
attacks, Mark. Now, this isn't the first time you've done this. When you saw
support slipping and your poll numbers dropping you did precisely the same
thing in 1998 when you attacked and distorted Geraldine Ferraro's record and
Chuck Schumer's record. You even questioned his credentials as a Democrat. So
let's try to keep this on the issues. . . .
MR. GREEN When Freddy Ferrer mocked me in his announcement speech and his
surrogates did last week and he did all of last week, I didn't whine and I
didn't complain. I responded with a plan on how the economy and the city
could recover. I think it's now fine if he wants to say critical things about
me and my leadership, which is fair, it is not inappropriate, it is essential
that we compare our leadership now. That's not attacks, Freddy. It's facts. .
Q. In view of the tremendous financial problems ahead that you've been discussing,
the two of you, do you think this puts Michael Bloomberg, the
Republican candidate who has a reputation as a brilliant businessman,
has commercials touting his managerial skills, his ability to
lead a team of people, do you think this puts Michael Bloomberg
in a good position to win the general election no matter which
one of you gentlemen wins the primary?
MR. GREEN Look, we've seen how Mayor Giuliani, for his flaws before this
catastrophe -- and I've stood up to him more than any, but I'll stand with him
if it helps kids and it helps rebuild our city -- he has shown how you need to
have experience in government to bring private and public sectors together,
Washington, Albany and the city together. Michael Bloomberg has as much
experience in government to bring us together as you or I have in running
Bloomberg Financial News.
Q. On this I think you gentlemen probably agree. You don't think Mr. Bloomberg,
his cause is advanced by this?
MR. FERRER He's been a brilliant businessman. But he rules his corporation,
he hasn't ever had to seek consensus. He hasn't ever had to do anything that
a governmental leader is called upon to do every day of his life in public
service. So, no. I think they're very different experiences. . . .
MR. GREEN Gabe, I'm a citywide official, have been for over 10 years,
appointed or elected. For the last eight years, I've been the No. 2 official
serving next in line to the mayor if, God forbid, I would have to fill any
vacancy. So I've been thinking about leadership for that amount of time. I am
ready to lead this city, I am ready to rebuild the economy, I am ready to
provide enhanced safety and I'm ready to educate our children.
Q. Mr. Ferrer, I detect in that reference to a citywide official that you're
provincial, according to your opponent.
MR. FERRER Did you gather that from that statement?
Q. I'm deducing it.
MR. FERRER Well, Gabe, let me tell you this. In a public career of serving
this city for nearly 20 years as a member of the City Council, member of the
old board of estimate and borough president of the Bronx over 14 years, I've
voted for, funded and implemented initiatives that have changed people's
lives. I didn't plan them, and I thought about them, but I did something
about them, too.
. The Sharpton factor. A lot of people are turned off by The Rev. Al
Sharpton. Many others like him a lot. He's supporting you. Do you think he's
more of an asset than a liability?
MR. FERRER Look, I sought his support just like Mark did. And I received his
support. And I'm very happy to have his support, as well as the support of
former Mayor Ed Koch, former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, State
Comptroller Carl McCall, Gerry Ferraro and so many others in support of my
candidacy. They believe in the things that I believe in. I'm grateful for
Q. Do you believe he's a liability or an asset to your opponent?
MR. GREEN I never had to make the judgment because I didn't seek his support.
You know, Freddy, there are reporters who have memories. As Al Sharpton will
tell you, I never sought his support. As The New York Post will say, for you
to deny you ran on an us-them, two cities approach is like F.D.R. denying
there was a New Deal. For you to deny that in your announcement speech and
your surrogates attacked me. So now your just extremely distressed when I
compare our records. You've got to tell people the truth. I never sought
Reverend Sharpton's support.
Q. Mr. Sharpton implied yesterday that you did seek his support.
MR. GREEN No, no, no. Ask ----
Q. He said jocularly: I didn't realize that we were just hanging out. He
referred to you taking him and his wife to the theater.
MR. GREEN Gabe, I've had a meal with you, but I didn't ask for your
endorsement. I intentionally did not seek Reverend Sharpton's endorsement. I
work well with Reverend Sharpton. Should I be the mayor, it's very important
that I can sit down with the leader of any constituency group. And he's an
important leader. But it is beside the point, Rudy Giuliani's not on the
ballot, Al Sharpton's not on the ballot. One of two Democrats will have shown
the leadership, the plans, the consistency, the vision, to run this city,
unite this city and rebuild this city.
MR. FERRER I need to respond to this. Who are you trying to kid, Mark? I mean
MR. GREEN Stop acting, Freddy. I didn't ask for his support.
MR. FERRER Who are you trying to kid? You took them out to the theater, you
had them over at your apartment for breakfast ----
MR. GREEN Did I ask him for his support?
MR. FERRER You courted his support.
MR. GREEN Freddy, you're not telling the truth.
MR. FERRER Please, excuse me.
MR. GREEN You can't not tell the truth. I'm the one who had dinner with him,
Freddy, not you.
MR. FERRER Please excuse me -- while you're interrupting.
MR. GREEN A courtesy is not a solicitation.
MR. FERRER Oh, I see. But in 19 -- but I think the people need to know, in
1998 Mark did seek his support, did court his support, did warmly accept his
support for the United States Senate run that he mounted in the Democratic