"Your next mayor?" MetroNY 09/07/06
..and now here's some humor about that clueless joker....
Your next mayor?
Carrion wants to be the ‘big fish’ in city pond
by patrick arden / metro new york
SEP 7, 2006
GRAND CONCOURSE — Adolfo Carrion sounded like he’s running for mayor. The topic came up six times in an hour this week, though the Bronx borough president refused to make it official.
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion chatted with Metro this week in his office on the third floor of the Bronx County Courthouse. Although he won’t make it official, he talks as if he’s running for mayor. Oh, and he’s raised $275,950 as of July 17.
“At the right time, I will present a plan for New York,” Carrion said. The son of a preacher then launched into a sermon on economic development, education and the role of government.
Months ago he extended an invitation to discuss his vision for the borough, saying he’d been misunderstood in the media. “It has to bother you,” he admitted, “but you say, look, if only I had a chance to talk to that one person directly, they would see.”
Making a list
Carrion’s fond of counting the days he has left in office. On Tuesday it was three years, three months and 27 days. “You can’t wait for things to come to you,” he said. “If you’re elected and you don’t push an agenda, you’re not doing your job.”
But the borough president’s powers are limited, so Carrion’s focused on what he calls “setting the agenda, and getting this administration to dance to the tune of the Bronx.”
He proudly points to a collection of big development projects, achieved with the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other local elected officials. Yet the largest pair are marked as much by controversy as ambition: the $400 million Gateway Mall at the Bronx Terminal Market and the $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium project. That doesn’t stop Carrion from taking credit for them.
“I wanted to build a new Yankee Stadium,” he said. “I told [Yankees owner] George [Steinbrenner] and [team president] Randy [Levine] at the beginning: You have the best location in the whole world — you’re not going. Let’s talk about you staying. I invited them: Let’s get started. What do you need, what do I need?”
Reminded of his inaugural speech in 2002, Carrion picked out the relevant quote: “Build schools, not stadiums.” Just blocks from his office, the Yankees’ construction crews have now taken over the neighborhood’s park, with none of the promised interim park facilities.
“I said in that same speech, ‘The Bronx is open for business,” Carrion recalled.
The right way
Community opposition, he said, couldn’t derail the best interests of the Bronx. After neighborhood reps refused to sign on to the community benefits agreement he had negotiated with the Gateway Mall’s developer, he decided to leave them out of talks with the Yankees, instead turning to local electeds for support. After Community Board 4 voted down the stadium plan, he didn’t reappoint veteran members who had disagreed with him. Opponents pointed to his past problems with community boards 7 and 12.
“I have a very clear thought process about the role of government,” Carrion said. “It’s to create a set of conditions to allow people to excel. We have an office that doles out opportunity to local businesses that will hire local people.”
His trophy projects were subsidized by the city and, in the case of the Yankees, by the state and feds as well. Critics said government subsidies shouldn’t be used to create low-wage jobs, but Carrion responds by reciting his own beginnings as a lifeguard, a busboy and a limo driver. “I challenge any of these academics to a debate on a good job, because it’s a bunch of bull,” he said. “You start to chip away at apparently intractable unemployment.”
Bloomberg now has big plans for the Bronx, but Carrion wants to make sure people know he invited the mayor in.
“The big fish wins, and that’s fine,” Carrion said. “That’s why I want to be the big fish. Not because I want to squash the little guy, but because I know that there’s a tremendous responsibility and an awesome power in the office, to do good and to create an agenda, to force and cajole people to move the city in a certain direction. We elect leaders to lead.”