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Not very sublime

April 5 -- Right-wing New York Post columnist Robert George sends an open letter to C. Virginia Fields suggesting that she flip on the stadium. Using the argument that the Jets bid for the MTA railyard was $720 million (it was actually only $210 million present value), this Bill O'Reilly dilettante apparently only reads the Post and actually believes Virginia Fields is against the stadium! Maybe her wink isn't that obvious.

NY Post
April 5, 2005

An Open Letter to C. Virginia Fields:

Congratulations on the recent jump in your polling numbers -- but you know that wasn't really about you, but about Freddy Ferrer's "Diallo cops were overindicted" flap.

Your campaign still needs a real energy boost. You still trail the other three Democrats in fund-raising. And even though you've been Manhattan borough president for eight years, no one really knows who you are or what you care about.

And that mailer you sent out last week -- "I was arrested with Martin Luther King"? Sorry to be so blunt, but voters don't really care what you were doing 40 years ago. (Just ask John Kerry.) Voters want to know about the dreams you can fulfill today.

So: How do you break away from wannabes Gifford Miller and Anthony Weiner and start seriously cutting into Ferrer's lead?

My humble suggestion: Do a smart flip-flop. Rescind your opposition to the West Side stadium and fully embrace the project.

I know what you're thinking: A flip-flop is what's got Ferrer in free-fall. But that wasn't a one-time change of position. And Freddy has flipped on so much -- death penalty, abortion and now Diallo -- that it starts to look like a major character flaw.

And you can honestly point to a reason for your change of position: We're no longer looking at the awful original plan -- a no-bid steal of a deal that would've given away the MTA railyards for $100 million.

Now, the Jets' offer has ballooned to $720 million. This is a demonstrably better deal -- especially considering the deteriorating condition of the subways, an issue that you've been raising more and more.

Your repositioning works as a weapon against Mayor Bloomberg, too: Suggest that he might have had more support before if he hadn't been seen as cutting a clearly bad deal while refusing to listen to outside input.

Plus: Why keep opposing a project that some of your most likely allies now support?

The decisions by Rep. Charles Rangel and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- the ultimate insider and the classic upset-the-applecart outsider, respectively -- to ignore party lines and endorse a deal supported by the two most recent Republican mayors suggests something may be changing in black politics.

Last time around, several black businessmen endorsed Bloomberg -- but that was partly payback for the Democratic primary.

This is different. This isn't about being against someone -- it's about being for something. It's about specific, substantial interests.

For economic development.
For jobs in the black community -- and the city at large.
For minority contractors getting a stake.

In short, this is the exact opposite of the whole affirmative-action/set-aside structure that Giuliani got rid of 10 years ago.

To the contrary, this is an example of what ethnic groups have been doing in New York since time immemorial: getting a seat at the table and working a deal that addresses their concerns.

Sharpton points out that the Jets' overall plan included working for months with a task force of several firms involved in the minority- and woman-owned business world.

"This wasn't hard for me," the reverend says. "We [knew] that the MTA is going to take a bid -- and the Jets [were] the only ones showing a commitment to the black community. Cablevision has offered nothing -- and has never addressed minority issues."

It would appear that black leaders have begun to recognize that they can take a very different stake in the city's future.

So, Ms. Fields, why not join them? You have the opportunity to clearly separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Be bold.

Be the candidate of economic growth in the city. Heck, call for some sort of consumer- or homeowner-friendly tax cut.

An economically friendly black female candidate interested in bringing a major sports team to the city? That's not a bad combination -- and one, it should be noted, that might be attractive to some donors that are perhaps wavering on other candidates.

Yes, you might be dubious about taking advice from a columnist from The Post.

But, hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Or so they say.

Cordially, Robert A. George