It apparently wasn’t necessary for New York City Comptroller and mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson to put in an appearance at a candidate’s night scheduled by a local political group.
While City Councilmember Tony Avella, the other Democratic mayoral hopeful, appeared to get a good reception from attendees at the forum held by the American Heritage Political Organization, club members voted to support Thompson’s bid. They also voted to endorse Mark Green for public advocate, John Liu for comptroller, and City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who is running for re−election.
Avella made the case for his grass roots candidacy to a group gathered at the American Legion hall at 345 78th Street. “I’d try and bring a sense of principle and ethics back to city government,” Avella told his listeners, reminding them that he was the only councilmember to refuse a stipend attached to his committee chairmanship and the only one who “refused to accept the unethical 25 percent pay raise the council voted itself.”
Stressing that he had been a civic activist, who had worked for two mayors before becoming a councilmember, Avella contended that he was uniquely positioned to run city government, and that he would have both the ability and the will to buck the establishment, and realign the workings of city agencies to eliminate wasteful spending while reversing the trend of today’s City Hall. “It’s really a top−down approach, and we have no say,” Avella explained. “What I’d like to see is from the bottom up.”
The idea, according to Avella, is to get local people who understand their communities involved in shaping their future, and to get parents and educators involved in shaping the future of their schools. For the former, he contended, “Right now, real estate interests dictate the agenda.” For the latter, he complained that two businessmen −− incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein −− are running the city’s educational establishment, putting “the profit motive” ahead of educating children.
But, Avella was most scathing when denouncing Bloomberg’s successful bid to revamp term limits. That, he said, “Dealt a real fatal blow to democracy,” which could only be restored, by “vot(ing) him out of office.”
Thompson missed the meeting because of a scheduling conflict, explained Bruce Solomon, who represented Thompson as a volunteer for his mayoral campaign.
Asked to speak on Thompson’s behalf, Solomon reminded his listeners of the comptroller’s distinguished career in public service, which has spanned 20 years and which has included stints as Brooklyn’s “youngest deputy borough president” and as president of the Board of Education.
Thompson opposed the successful effort to extend term limits, Solomon said. He “thought it was an egregious affront to the people of New York. He could have run for a third term. Instead, he wanted to make sure someone stood up for the people of the city.”
Thompson also opposed the effort to raise fares and cut service on public transportation, proposing instead a plan that would have spread the burden equitably among all the counties served by the MTA, as well as among commuters who use city services, Solomon said.
During his years as comptroller, Solomon noted, Thompson had “saved the city approximately $248 million,” A recent audit of the Yankees, for instance, had turned up the fact that the team owned the city $11 million, Solomon said.