By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Mollie Wilson's piece on Madonna was refreshing: great, bold, and so true ["Mama Don't Preach," The Essay, November 12-18]. Albeit only in part, few writers have the editorial journalistic originality to not so much be a critic, but to uncover and speak eloquently of brand image "logo" marketing, the powerful allure of entertainment consumerism and its insidious attempts to manipulate and form our individual and cultural perceptions and desires. The public at large has become numb to global mass-marketed preachingcorporate franchisability. True connection to artbe it performing, written, visual, musicalis one that reinvents itself, not the genres around it by the branding of ritually unimaginative, scripted, fashionable products.
I hope to read more articles which bring to light the real agenda of corporate entertainment and politics, and the numbing of the public at large.
Wayne Barrett's "Ferrer's Campaign Scandal" [August 13-19] is an outrage. He tries to equate the Mark Green campaign's contribution of $245,000 to the Brooklyn Democratic Party and the orchestration of racist campaign tactics against Fernando Ferrer to legitimate campaign-vendor relationships. The facts are simple. The Ferrer campaign hired Northeast Bronx Printing and Graphic to print millions of leaflets, posters, and mailings for the 2001 Democratic primary campaign. Prices were in fact very competitive and the quality was good. Contrary to Barrett's assertion that money to Northeast was partly to blame for Ferrer's defeat, Ferrer came in first in the primary when the overwhelming majority of the print was done. Neither Roberto Ramirez, the then Bronx Democratic leader, nor I were or are business partners of Northeast. Northeast's owner, David Keisman, is our friend and our partner in a community newspaper in Manhattan.
I also want to address the innuendo that my company, Miranda y Mas, received an improper commission for Spanish TV, radio, and print commercials, because another company, Axelrod & Associates, was the lead media company. Again, the facts are simple. Miranda y Mas has worked in other campaigns with other lead media companies with similar arrangements. I have no doubt that had Mr. Barrett simply asked about Miranda y Mas's role in media (quality and involvement) and its coordination with all other aspects of the Ferrer campaign, everyone would have agreed that we more than earned our fees. The fact is that at least 85 percent of any media buy goes to the stations in which the buy is placed. In the Carrion campaign we were the lead company, producing and placing all media, and Carrion beat his two opponents.
What is gratuitous and hurtful is Barrett's claim that these vendors' relationships "may well be one reason Ferrer lost." First, Ferrer won the primary. Second, Mr. Barrett is well aware of my lifetime commitment to Hispanic advancement. I have spent my entire career developing and nurturing Hispanic institutions and leaders. The election of Fernando Ferrer as mayor, someone of Hispanic descent, would have been the culmination of my life's work. To suggest I would jeopardize this goal for financial gain is hurtful, insulting, and factually wrong.
Luis A. Miranda Jr.
Some months ago, Wayne Barrett wrote on the finances of the 2001 Fernando Ferrer mayoral campaign. As the media consultant for that campaign, I feel compelled to clear up a matter raised in that story.
Barrett asserted that Luis Miranda garnered $977,000 from the Ferrer campaign for media services related to Spanish-language advertising, though "the Ferrer ads were principally produced by another consultant, David Axelrod."
This claim is misleading in two respects.
Miranda's firm did not make $977,000. They were retained to purchase broadcast time on Spanish-language television and radio stations, and 85 percent of the money they received went to the stations. The firm retained only the standard agency commission.
And while it is true that my firm produced the ads, Miranda was a full, active, and invaluable partner in the creative process, as well as the de facto policy director of the campaign. He was an essential player who more than earned the money his firm was paid.
To his credit, Barrett tried to reach me for comment before writing the story. I regret that we didn't connect so I could clear up these facts.
President, Axelrod & Associates
Wayne Barrett replies: As I noted in the story, records submitted by the Ferrer committee to the Campaign Finance Board indicate that Miranda retained $478,000 of the $977,000 paid his firm, far more than 15 percent. It is highly unusual that a firm that did not principally produce commercials would take the entire commission plus. Miranda, who stopped returning my messages during the reporting of the story, claims Northeast Bronx's prices were competitive though he could not name a single other bidder in his interview with me. Miranda makes no effort to explain the blatant conflict of interest of picking a printer owned by his own partners in another venture. Let's hope that Miranda's suggestion that the draining of Ferrer's campaign as a winning strategy is not an indication that they intend to repeat it in 2005.
I commend Tom Robbins for his article "The Judge on Row E" [October 29-November 4]. He elegantly and powerfully reported Judge Margarita López Torres's struggle against the corrupt Brooklyn Democratic Party bosses.
However, one point requires clarification. Robbins states, "Then, up for re-election to her Civil Court post last year, she was denied official Democratic endorsement. . . . López Torres ran anyway, winning re-election on her own and harvesting more votes than any other candidate." While it's clear Judge Lopéz Torres played a vital role in her own re-election, it must also be recognized that she ran on the Green Party ballot line last year. The active grassroots support of Green Party voters and organizers was instrumental to this crusading judge's decisive victory.
53rd A.D. District Leader
Green Party of New York
Choreographer Renée Archibald was mistakenly identified as Jennifer in Elizabeth Zimmer's review of "Fresh Tracks" ["Emerging," November 19-25].
Congratulations to Nat Hentoff, who was awarded the NEA Jazz Master award on November 19 for "exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz." This is the first time in the Jazz Masters' 21-year history that a jazz critic has been so honored.