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7th July
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, July 7, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The loss of New York’s Olympic bid, the bid that no international expert really thought was realistic, somehow came as a shock. I went into the shower yesterday morning hopeful, only to emerge wet and finding out that we were early losers in the second round of voting. As much as I really don’t care about the Olympic Games, which I find boring, Gotham’s winning the 2012 Games nonetheless became important to me.

My older son, who lives in Atlanta, recently told me that we were crazy to want to have the Games here. He should know, since he was a student at Emory University in 1996, when the Games were held in Atlanta. Yet Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff hit upon an untapped vein of boosterism within and seduced me into caring.
I don’t think that the mayor will be much diminished by the unsuccessful effort. I think that there is a grudging admiration of the energy that the mayor and his staff put into this. Of course he won’t get the enormous lift of the “thrill of victory” that could have ended the mayoral race, if you assume that the race still indeed exists.

Remember the lift that the improbable World Series victory of the New York Mets in 1969 gave Mayor Lindsay? A lot of snowbound Queens voters felt a lot better about Lindsay after he was soaked in champagne in the Mets locker room celebrating the win. Bringing the Games to New York surely would have helped Mr. Bloomberg seal his image as a “winner.”

But he did win points for persistence, and the mayor did get to rub elbows with Democrats like Senator Clinton and Rep. Charles Rangel. He also brought Muhammad Ali into the fray. The mayor exhibited leadership, the reason why he can walk away from the failed effort with his head held high.

In retrospect, the warning of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that New York was unlikely to prevail proved prescient. Now that Gotham has lost, will Messrs. Silver and Bruno, whose failure to support a West Side stadium gave the organizers of the bid an embarrassing 11th-hour setback, have to shoulder some blame?
This brings me back to Atlanta. For all the trouble and dislocation,the 1996 Olympics did enhance this second-tier city. New York, as mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner has pointed out, doesn’t need the Olympics to be thrust in the first ranks. Perhaps Mr. Bloomberg can now direct his energy into fixing the one thing that even Atlanta has over us — a world-class airport.

Maybe more of an effort should be made to make John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports into ones we can be proud to come home to, something that will have a more lasting effect than a few weeks of footraces seven years from now.

The Democrat who least wanted the Olympics, Fernando Ferrer, castigated the mayor for being in Singapore for last-minute campaigning. He felt that Mr. Bloomberg should have been here to supervise the opening of summer school. Meanwhile, Mr. Ferrer was promoting his initiative to provide comprehensive translation services to parents of New York City schoolchildren. That is the initiative of the Drum Major Institute, which Mr. Ferrer had formerly headed, and the group that Republicans charge is being used illegally to promote Mr. Ferrer’s campaign.

The Drum Major Institute is a nonprofit group, under the supervision of Elliot Spitzer, the state attorney general, with whom the GOP has lodged a complaint.But Mr.Spitzer has endorsed Mr. Ferrer and shares a key campaign consultant, Roberto Ramirez, with the former Bronx president. Perhaps it is time for the Reverend Alford Sharpton to call for a special prosecutor?

C. Virginia Fields really seems to have fallen into a silly, stupid situation. Her staff, not content with staging an actual photograph for her campaign literature, instead resorted to creating a composite. The photo purportedly shows Ms. Fields surrounded by an adoring and ethnically balanced group of supporters.

All of the people are real, but they have been inserted into the final product from four separate original photos.

Is this wrong? Probably not.The individuals were meant to be emblematic of Ms. Fields’s campaign theme of inclusiveness. Is this worse than electronically removing blemishes from her face, or lightening the background so she stands out?

Still, there is a line out there, one that shouldn’t be crossed. In one memorable instance in the Bronx special election to fill a City Council vacancy early in 2001, the same technology was used to make it look as if Saikou Diallo, the father of the African immigrant who died in a hail of police bullets, was shaking hands with Edwin Ortiz, a candidate for the vacant position.

It was soon discovered that the face of Mr. Ortiz had been substituted for that of Pedro Espada, the former state senator who was Mr. Ortiz’s sponsor. One dead giveaway was the wedding ring on Mr. Ortiz’s hand — it was well-known that Mr. Ortiz is gay and unmarried.

Mr. Ortiz lost the race, although probably not just because of this embarrassing incident. He has since left the Democratic Party and joined the Independence Party, in which he led the effort that seized control of the Bronx party organization, delivering it into the hands of the allies of party boss Lenora Fulani.

© 2005 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

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