The 2005 Wacko Awards

With everyone chasing a Bloombucks bonus, only the most craven can win

Quinnipiac and competition were also off in the last mayoral election, hyping Mark Green with 16-point leads over Bloombucks deep into October. But they couldn't turn their own phony, random-digit-dialing predictions into prophecy then since Bloomy was self-financed. This time, however, error had effect. If Carroll had missed by as much in September as he did in November, Ferrer would've then been only seven points behind and might've turned this into a race.

When state Democratic gasbag Denny Farrell announced the night before the election that he would be at his Washington Heights club at 5:30 a.m. to jump-start a field operation for Ferrer, those who know him wondered if the 73-year-old with the red convertible was meeting a new blonde. Actually, a mid-afternoon Voice visit to Farrell's Tioga-Carver club on 155th Street failed to find a single poster or palm card for Ferrer, and no one at the club could even reach the party laugh leader by cell phone. His name is bannered across the top of the club twice, as its assemblyman and its district leader. Since Farrell's state and Manhattan Democratic offices in midtown were not even picking up the phone, double-barreled party chair Farrell wins the Tammany No-Show Trifecta, a throwback to his youthful days as a driver for a shady Supreme Court judge.

Actually, all that was going on in Farrell's club was a tepid get-out-the- vote effort for City Councilman Robert Jackson, whose signs were on sidewalk billboards up and down the street. Jackson paid Farrell's rent, in part with public matching funds, to run up his 9-to-1 margin in a race against a nonentity. Farrell told the Voice he couldn't put out a palm card with Ferrer's name on it without "violating campaign finance," an absurd distortion of city rules that clearly permit parties to urge voters to support Democratic candidates from Ferrer on down. The state GOP's "victory" committees have spent millions on city races over the years.

Tabloid target: Ferrer
photo: Lauren Braun
Tabloid target: Ferrer


Waddya know?

The Missing in Action Most-Important-Numbers- You-Barely-or-Never-Heard Quiz requires Wacko readers to guess just how often these vital statistics were mentioned by the press in general election coverage. Some questions test your ability to compute unreported totals:

1. The $4 billion to $4.5 billion budget gap for next year
2. The 18.5 percent property tax hike railed about at the Post and elsewhere prior to the campaign
3. The 723,000 Bloomy vote total, lowest winning tally in the last 81 years of two-person mayoral races
4. The number of years since a majority of the city's white voters last backed a Democrat for mayor, eclipsed by post-election coverage of blacks and Latinos transcending race and party
5. The page on which the News buried the story of the first official mayoral debate, which was boycotted by Bloombucks
6. The caveat word count in the Times endorsement of Bloombucks, excusing his one-man demolition of its prized campaign finance system
7. The expenditure cap limiting Bloombucks if Pinch Sulzberger hadn't given him the go-ahead to opt out of campaign finance
8. The best-guess victory margin if Bloombucks had had to run with the stadium still in play, no Olympics, and the comparative hole at ground zero
9. Bloombucks's Fulani vote total, without which he would not have beaten Rudy Giuliani's 1997 margin
10. The amount Bloombucks has and will spend on PR to convince us that money didn't re-elect him

Answers 1. 13 2. 10 3. Zero 4. 20 5. Page 39 6. 297 words 7. $5.7 million 8. 51-48 9. 74,715 10. unknowable

Farrell says he did show up at the crack of dawn, eventually got a grand total of 20 workers into the street, hit a subway stop with Freddy, and squeezed himself into the camera frame at Ferrer's concession speech that night. Shelly Silver's lightweight chair of the assembly's most heavyweight committee, Shill Denny proved once again that where there's an evasive way, he finds the means. With his trifecta of power posts, including Assembly Ways & Means, Farrell is best known by his own self-description in a court deposition: "I don't always win," he testified, "though I never lose."

Winner once again of the Don't-Worry-White-Man Pulitzer is the Grand Old Post, which virtually repeated its four-front-page slam on Carl McCall in the 2002 gubernatorial campaign with three covers of Fernando Ferrer ridicule this time, replete with dunce and jerk-off stories. The Daily News tried to compete, also devoting a cover to the timely hyping of a meaningless blogger error on Ferrer's site, feeding off the same Bloomy handout as the Post. Nobody said it better than Bloombucks himself—a Post target pre-2005, who once brayed, "No one takes something seriously on the front page of the Post," adding, "They're going to make up stuff no matter what."

Of course, it took the Associated Press to discover that the Bloombucks photo-op-at-the-IHOP in Harlem was a staged event, packed with nine so-called "volunteers" from the campaign. The News and Post's three total paragraphs of buried copy about this top-down calculated deception—as opposed to the blogging blunder of a Ferrer underling—earns them a Pigs-in-Blankets Buttermilk Special.

It became news only because the AP's Sarah Kugler interviewed one IHOP diner who was so "effusive" about Bloomy that Kugler asked if she was affiliated with the campaign, provoking a denial. The charade continued until Kugler spotted the same woman working at campaign headquarters a few days later and forced a confession out of the Rove-like brass. Even then, the "volunteer" refused to answer repeated Kugler calls, continuing to hide the details of the scam.

Just to prove that its cover bashing isn't an ethnic coincidence, the color-coded Post published a "No Thanks for the Memories" editorial warning that Ferrer wanted "to roll back the clock to the David Dinkins, pre–Rudy Giuliani days." All that prompted the Post warnings of a return to soaring welfare, murder, and race tensions was Dinkins's endorsement of Ferrer. Ironically, the Post actually endorsed Dinkins's 2001 candidate for mayor, white man Mark Green, who was then running against Ferrer. Unlike Ferrer, Green was a top Dinkins commissioner, far closer to the ex-mayor politically and personally than longtime sparring partner Fernando. Nonetheless, the Post never wrote of Green that "Dinkins is a great symbol of the kind of mayor Freddy hopes to be."


Hank Sheinkopf, the once and future political consultant to mayoral wannabe Bill Thompson, wins the Next Secret Agent Man TV Pilot for posing as a quotable, disinterested expert on this year's race, bashing upon request the man who fired him, Ferrer. Roberto Ramirez, the ex–Bronx Democratic boss who became such a racial hot-button item in 2001, captures the Ralph Ellison Invisible Latino Legend for managing Ferrer from afar this time, not even seen at the concession party. The City Hall press corps gets the God-Endorses-Ferrer-But-Refuses-to-Call-Bloomy-a-Sinner Heavenly Invite for reflexively demanding that Ferrer endorsers critique Bloomy but never vice versa, a new authenticity standard for backers of a challenger.

Research assistance: Jessica Bennett, K. Emily Bond, Ben James, Lee Norsworthy, and Xana O'Neill

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