Weiner Sets the Pace

As Ferrer stumbles, the skinny congressman from Brooklyn muscles up

That Weiner was the one catching notice last week was even more significant in light of Ferrer's almost desperate effort to break out of his post-Diallo funk. The former Bronx leader launched the week with a carefully orchestrated speech at Pace University calling for a new stock-transfer tax before an audience that included teachers' union president Randi Weingarten, whose crucial endorsement is still in play. At the Crain's forum, Weiner jumped on Ferrer's proposal, calling it a "mind-bogglingly bad idea," saying the tax could push the exchange to relocate jobs elsewhere.

The stock-tax notion isn't new, and was frequently urged by liberal politicians in the 1980s as one way to add revenue without hurting average New Yorkers. But a lot has changed since then. "The technology has caught up with the times, and it is not a viable option anymore," said Harvey Robins, a former adviser to mayors Koch and Dinkins. "Ferrer could rightly be faulted for not doing his homework."

"We've lost jobs in the securities industry while the rest of the nation has gained them," said Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future. "The industry really is decentralizing and doesn't have to be here anymore."



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  • Weiner's own proposal to cure city budget ills is a tax hike on millionaires, a notion that has so far generated little criticism. "It seems like that is a progressive tax that would hurt taxpayers the least," said Bowles.

    Thursday night at a Democratic mayoral candidates' forum at Hunter College, sponsored by radio station WWRL, the Urban League, and Brooklyn Young Democrats, the crowd appeared to be clearly pro-Ferrer, judging by the hoots and applause as he was introduced. Later, however, Weiner got the biggest hands, mixed with laughter at his own expense. The crowd laughed good-naturedly at his steady self-promotion as he repeatedly urged them to consult his anthonyweiner.com website for his "50 ideas for the city." And they laughed again, this time with cheers, when he talked about how he would substitute "a little vinegar" for the "sugar" approach he said Michael Bloomberg had used to win increased aid from Republican leaders in Albany and Washington. "I might not look like much," said Weiner, "but I can handle myself. And I relish a fight."

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