The Flatlands Civic Association brought the politicians to the people for a frank discussion of issues such as poverty, term limits, education, and skyrocketing water bills.
The special guest speaker was City Comptroller William Thompson, Jr., who will be running for mayor against incumbent Michael Bloomberg in the November election.
However, since Thompson didn’t show up until two hours after he was scheduled to appear, City Councilmember Lew Fidler used the opportunity to endorse Thompson.
“Mike Bloomberg will never be able to relate to the way you and I live our lives,” said Fidler. “I ask you to keep your mind open over the next several months. Bill Thompson cannot compete with Mike Bloomberg dollar for dollar.”
Fidler claimed that the billionaire businessman had lost touch with the common man. He encouraged the Association members to consider why it was necessary for Bloomberg to spend nearly $20 million on his campaign so far if he had been doing a good job as mayor for the last eight years.
When an apologetic Bill Thompson finally did arrive, he praised the Association for its active involvement in the community, before moving on to speak about issues that he believes are important to all New Yorkers.
Thompson disagrees with Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to close the city’s budget gap by increasing sales tax by a half of a percent, making it one of the highest sales tax rates in the country. He said he would raise the money by increasing taxes by one percent on those making a half a million dollars a year or more.
“Those who are doing better, who are making more, have broader shoulders and they can handle a little bit more of the weight,” he explained. “But if the half percent sales tax goes through and it falls on our backs, it’s going to be harder for each one of us to survive.”
Thompson also supports the construction of new and more modern schools, longer school days for children who need it, the addition of music and art classes, and uniforms for all elementary school students. He wants to create a culture of education, where being smart is considered cool, and President Barack Obama and Judge Sonia Sotomayor are viewed as role models.
Apparently, Thompson struck a cord with the Association members, who nodded in agreement and applauded after his remarks.
“I think what he said is what we would all like to hear,” said Patricia Williams, a resident of Old Mill Basin. “How much of a reality it can be, I’m not sure, but it is something that we should aspire to.”