By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Im from Queens. Im into politics.
Now, not everyone who lives or works in Queens and is part of the large
circle of political observers and participants thinks the same but . . .most of us took it
for granted that wed be routing for a Queens boy in the big 2001 Mayoral
Alan Who or Alan Where?
For a couple of years before the election, Comptroller Alan
Hevesi and Council Speaker Peter Vallone were two of the four-person field. They were
there back in 1999; they were there throughout 2000; and theyre still there, I
Ive known Alan forever. Well, not quite forever. Were not
good friends. But Ive been aware of him for five decades. He went to Queens College
with my sister. He was president of their senior class and a great basketball player for a
Queens kid. His political career began before my publishing career but our paths crossed,
my friends were his friends, his friends my friends. We sort of grew up in Queens
Weve had our differences. However, I was excited at the prospect
that one of our own a Forest Hills lad, a Queens College grad was, as I saw
it a year ago, the front-runner for Mayor of New York City. Now weve broken bread
together, had disagreements, but more often than not I think were on the same page.
I always assumed Alan was likely to be my candidate for Mayor.
Now thats not an endorsement. I know and like the three other
players in the race. Peter, the other Queens kid, is certainly a viable option. Ive
been impressed with Freddy Ferrer since I first met him. And Mark Green, philosophically,
is probably the closest to my political roots.
I know them all. I like them all. And it is indeed a surprising field
where Im not uncomfortable with thinking of any of the four of them as mayor.
Its more than probable that one of them will be.
But way back when this race began, right up until recently, in the back
of my mind, was that that someone was Alan Hevesi. I thought he would be my candidate. I
also thought he would be more than competitive.
"Alan Who," who won an impressive battle for Comptroller and
has served in that position since 1993, was the frontrunner of this field. His biggest
problem was that Peter (Vallone) was also from Queens and certainly had a better
relationship with Tom Manton and the Queens Democrats. But Alan kept his head down, made
his peace with Manton and focused on raising funds for the race.
Alan walked the Rudy line without completely alienating the mayor, the
party or the people. He did his job, played his cards carefully and, other than losing
ground in the black community, did no long lasting damage to his solid reputation. He
quickly and effectively outperformed the field in fundraising and was seemingly the
But, where was he?
Was "Alan Who" becoming "Alan Where," and why?
Issues came and went. He wasnt there. He was missing for the
Amadu Diallo protests. He should have been there. He really didnt speak out on any
of the mayors faux pas. He apparently kept his head in the Citys books.
The other candidates became more visible. Alan raised money and kept
his head down.
Recently, Queens Boulevard became known as the deadliest street in the
universe. Alan has to cross it everyday to go anywhere from his house and to go home.
Death after death occurred in his home district. Protests mounted. TV cameras rolled and
Mark Green stole the issue.
Freddy Ferrer, the Bronx Borough President, sends this Queens columnist
endless emails and faxes. As a matter of fact, we receive ten times the number of faxes
and emails from Ferrer than we do from any Queens elected official. (Aside to Bearak: STOP
IT!). Freddy takes positions on everything well almost everything and sends them
around. Hes there for reporters, cameras and events. Not Alan.
The same for Mark Green. He works the press. He takes stands on issues.
He works to become the anti-Rudy. He has used his position of Public Advocate to advocate
to get coverage, to let the people know he is there fighting for them. Not Alan.
Vallone too has been visible. His role as Council speaker has thrust
him into the center of things. Im not sure his choices have always been the best but
hes gotten the exposure. Sadly, although he has given lip service to opposing the
Councils self-serving term limit appeal, he has failed to put the weight of his
office behind stopping it. Insiders whisper that he cut a deal allowing the renegade
council members to operate freely to extend their own stay in office in spite of the
publics vote in two referendums. That issue will come back and haunt the Speaker and
Alan could have had Queens. Term limits? Wheres Alan?
Queens Boulevard was abuzz with belief that Manton and company would
abandon Vallone and go with Hevesi. Alan was to be the winner.
Alan kept his head down. Freddy mixed it up. Mark spoke out. Peter
poured it on.
They whispered on Queens Boulevard, "Where is Alan?" Why
isnt Hank Morris (his campaign guru) getting him some press? Polls Quinapiac,
Marist and Alan who many of us believed should have been one or two, was last
He was nowhere. Mark Green led the pack by a lot. Then it was
close between Peter and Freddy. Alan trailed badly very badly. But Alans
people thought there was plenty of time to orchestrate another name recognition and
approval coup. "Alan Who?" surprised everyone eight years ago.
But the polls got worse and the whispers on Queens Boulevard indicate
that Alan is quickly losing what seemed to be the inside line at snagging Manton and
company not that theyre essential. Vallone seems to be emerging as the Queens
insiders choice. Ferrer is at more Queens events than Hevesi and Mark Green is more
visible on Queens Boulevard than Alan.
"Alan Who" is now "Alan Where?"
And were beginning to hear whispers of State Comptroller in 2002
instead of Mayor in 2001.
No its not all over not by a long shot. Hank Morris is a
talented image builder. But so are Hank Sheinkopf (Mark Greens guy) and others. Alan
is a hard campaigner. But so are Freddy and Mark. Alan has the most money. But they all
will have maximum under the new City rules.
But the clock is ticking and Alan seems to have his head in the City
books and not in the City election. Some may applaud it and say people who do their job
well get promoted by the people...not if they dont know about it. We havent
received lots of audits showing how the Comptrollers office is saving the City
When is Alan going to become visible? We have no idea. We do know,
however, that were hearing from Freddy and lunching with Mark Green.
Sadly, the only thing we have to say to Peter is that the term limits
override issue has brought shame to you and the Council.
Alan, we miss you. Wed like to see and hear more of you. The
people would too.
We were counting on you.
Im from Queens. Im into politics.
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Now I understand it. After being the first out of the box condemning
the City Council for its efforts to overthrow term limits put in place by the people, I
finally understand. After banging away, week-after-week, for the past month plus, this
writer has been informed by Council insiders that there is a rather simple explanation to
the self-serving actions on the part of about two dozen term limited Council members.
It might be surprising that after the people twice have gone to the
ballot box and voted to term limit the City Council members that these very same members
would vote to disregard the will of the people. Now, in an exclusive interview, the real
explanation has been offered by a senior member of the council, on the condition of
For those of you wondering why elected officials would just disregard
the people, this column offers the first reasonable explanation.
According to our Council source, the 22 members cosponsoring the bill
as well as at least seven other members were earlier in their careers so desperate to win
election, that they resorted to campaign extremes. Never reported before, but spoken of in
backroom whispers, have been deals between candidates for office and figures from the dark
These figures, known by a variety of names, apparently have been
visiting the halls of New York government for quite some time. When they encounter a
vulnerable official or candidate, apparently they offer the help of forces from their
organization in exchange for future promises.
Some believe it may be as simple as vulnerable Council members being in
bed with fat cat lobbyists.
Our Council sources claim its not that simple. They informs us of
inside knowledge of council members actually selling their souls to . . . well, it gets
clouded at this point but you get the idea.
It seems clear that once these dark side figures or fat cats get hold
of you or your soul, they dont want to let go. And you dont want them too,
And so, why should they allow the council members they control to be
term limited and leave the council? They shouldnt. They wont!
The only way a Council member who has made a pact is allowed to leave
is for higher office or darker service. And so the figures of the dark side have taken
control and have promulgated term limits repeal and have forced their council members do
And all of the blinded council members become self-serving tools of the
Now, were not sure how to stop it, except to yell loudly and
And were not sure if it is a pact between politicians and the
devil or between council members and fat cat lobbyists.
And in this case, were not sure there is a difference.