Unfortunately, the apathy of everyone else has left state and local politics to be dominated by the producers of public services, who want to force people to pay more for less, the wealthy, who do not require public services and benefits and do not want to pay for others to have them, and (to a lesser extent than in the past, fortunately) whackos obsessed by God, gays, guns and other issues of tribal and identity politics. These are the people and groups who donate the money and collect the signatures. And since the mainstream media uses endorsements, signatures and campaign contributions as the indicator of who is worth presenting to the broader public, their candidates are those who get the attention. Particularly since such candidates have flacks to do the work of the journalists for them.
Others are left with the valuable but unrewarding task of being protest candidates. As someone who lost nine months of income and ended my public service career to make a similar protest, they have my respect. I have previously written what the major party candidates for Mayor have to do to win my vote. If they fail to win do so, Adolfo Carrion can win that vote by showing, in the Mayoral debates, that he is prepared to speak for the rest of us, and for younger generations. Or by being excluded from those debates, which would really tick me off.
As I noted in a prior post, Adolfo Carrion is the only candidate (and virtually the only politician) I have ever had a conversation with. We were both young city planners in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he worked in the Bronx office of the Department of City Planning and I worked as a regional economist for the Department’s Housing and Economics office. Some years later he was a district manager for a community district in the Bronx, and I was working on a project (that went nowhere) to update New York City’s “use” zoning regulations. As part of the project I attended the district manager’s cabinet meetings for each borough, presented what I was working on, and solicited their views. Only a handful had anything thoughtful to say. Adolfo Carrion was one of them. He always struck me as a decent, thoughtful guy.
The last time I spoke with him, many years ago, he called me for some information for something he was working on, getting city financing to attract a significant employer to the South Bronx. What I had to say wasn’t what he wanted to hear. Deals for individual businesses might help one firm, and provide a temporary benefit for those who work for it (at the expense of everyone else), but they won’t turn around a city or a borough. Businesses are always opening and closing, expanding and contracting, due to the circumstances of individual firms, and the changing fortunes of different industries.
In fact, based on data Jay Mooney then of the NY State Department of Labor had compiled for me, one-third of those working in New York’s private sector at any given time are in places of business that did not exist five years before. New York City needs 25,000 new business establishments every year just to break even. New York State needs 60,000. What is needed is not any one business, but an entrepreneurial environment that encourages lots of new business establishments to open on an ongoing basis, some of which hopefully grow to be large firms. This is something Mayor Bloomberg has focused on in his final term, in place of the previous city emphasis on special deals to subsidize individual existing (and campaign contributing) large firms. Hopefully that trend will go even further under the next Mayor.
I also pointed out that one of my friends and roommates in college, who had moved from the Dominican Republic to the West Farms area of the Bronx as a child, had left the New York City for a place with less crime and better schools for his family. Another DR immigrant I knew in college, who had grown up in Upper Manhattan, had also left for the suburbs. As long as those who succeed move elsewhere, leaving behind those with problems, and no one successful moves in to replace them, the Bronx will not get back to being he middle class/working class place it was in the 1950s and 1960s. Which matters because while Staten Island takes first place in complaining among New York City’s components, the Bronx really is the “forgotten borough.”
Some time later, I was surprised to find out that Adolfo Carrion had been elected Bronx Borough President, with the support of the Bronx Democratic machine. Now I’m not one who believes in guilt by association. That’s the kind of gossip-like propaganda that politicians put out. But what I know of the Bronx Democratic machine is what I read in the newspaper, which is not good. Then Carrion went to Washington, which perhaps didn’t work out that well, and now he is back in New York City running for Mayor. While still living in the Bronx, a place that (unlike those I went to college with) he didn’t leave.
That’s what I know about the guy, but as noted I’ll give him a hearing, even if the MSM ensures no one else does. He deserves it. Perhaps since his chances of winning are close to zero he’ll use the forum of his candidacy to “say the unsaid.” He has nothing to lose. Leaving the Democratic Party to run for Mayor probably means the end of his political career, so why not go for it and raise a little hell? I would also suggest playing my former roommate’s favorite song as the intro to his events. The lyrics may be a little DeBlasio for his current taste, but as far as I’m concerned they are spot on, and none of the chattering classes will understand them anyway.