New Yorkers once overwhelming told pollsters they wanted Bill
Clinton as their Mayor.
Now, it looks like they might just get what they wished for.
Mayoral hopeful Mark Green, the City's Public Advocate, is looking more like Bill Clinton
every day. Rather than being "Rudy-lite," the moniker
Freddy Ferrer has assigned to his opponents, Mark Green has
become "Clinton-lite." He has the celebrity quotient
without the scandals. The centrist demeanor without the
Mark Green has created his own form of triangulation.
This is worthy strategy for the upcoming primary, but a
possible pitfall if Mr. Green ends up in a race for City Hall
with Mike Bloomberg, a true moderate and a man not beholden to
special interest groups or unions.
Mr. Green has already encompassed the celebrity-allure of
Clinton. On Wednesday night the Public Advocate held a
star-studded fundraiser at Town Hall featuring speeches and
performances by everyone from Warren Beatty to Jewel.
But more importantly, Mark Green has mastered the skill of
getting New Yorkers to believe he is the centrist of all the
Judging from recent polls, itís looking like next weekís
primary will yield a run-off between Freddy Ferrer, the angry,
impassioned liberal, and Mark Green, the even-tempered moderate.
With Mr. Greenís foremost competitor, Mr. Ferrer, moving to
the left by his own will, Green easily pushed Peter Vallone, the
worthiest of the Democratic hopefuls, into the right corner.
Instead of letting him take credit for all he accomplished by
working with Mayor Giuliani, Green has gotten the public to
associate Vallone with any negative aspects of the Giuliani
And in classic Clinton mode, Green has chosen the two issues
that concern New Yorkers most Ė crime and education Ė and
turned them into his own.
With public safety, by many accounts the number one issue
among voters, Mark Green has attached himself to former Police
Commissioner Bill Bratton,
the implication being not only that he will re-install Mr.
Bratton if he is elected Mayor, but that he has always endorsed
the policing techniques that drove crime down to record lows
over the past eight years. By aligning himself with Bratton, Green hopes voters will only remember his
previous rants and lawsuits against the NYPD as necessary, not
as the excessive spectacles they truly were.
Donít buy this act. With Mark Green as Mayor, weíll see a
police department barely recognizable from Rudy Giulianiís Ė
in all the wrong ways. An increase in funding, perhaps, but also
an increase in our taxes, and an increase in quality of life
crimes. Green may have toned down his rhetoric towards the NYPD,
but the same sentiment is there in euphemisms like regular
in-service diversity training, Permanent Independent
Police Oversight Board, and Deputy Commissioner for
Mark Green has also been advocating for eliminating the Board
of Education, and for having the Schools Chancellor appointed by
and beholden to the Mayor. His position papers and press
releases are peppered with the word "accountability"
and for teachers, he advocates for a system of "performance
review with consequences." Again, ideas that reflect so
many the Giuliani Administrationís consistent positions.
Could this really be a new and improved Mark Green?
Possibly, but the truth lies in what happens after the
primaries. What will Mr. Green do when the teacherís union,
the life-blood of the Democratic Party, decides to throw their
support in his direction under conditions? Will he stand up to
them and still continue to push for legislation in Albany to
change the system?
And what will he do after the run-off, when Freddy Ferrer is
no longer a threat, and Al Sharpton needs to attach himself to a
candidate? Itís doubtful that Mr. Sharpton, one of the stars
of this campaign, will drop out of sight. Heíll lobby Mr.
Green to highlight his issues, and itís unlikely Green will
fight him; heíll want the votes that Sharpton can reel in.
Once in the final stretch to City Hall, presumably in a race
against Mike Bloomberg, Mark Greenís current tactics will have
worn thin. If heís not able to unite Bill Bratton and Al
Sharpton, if he canít reach a compromise with Randi Weingarten
of the teacherís union, Mr. Green will have a hard time living
up to his other pet slogan Ė uniting all New Yorkers.
Recently, Mark Green wanted to know which Freddy Ferrer was
talking when he criticized Bill Bratton. He noted that Ferrer
had kind words for Bratton in 1996, and suggested that the two
Ferrers should debate each other.
New Yorkers should demand nothing less of the Public
Advocate; they should know which Mark Green they are really
On the web: Mark
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