Freddy Goes to School

A lot of the students who gathered in the Monroe College gym on Jerome Ave. in the Bronx this morning looked nervous—not because they were about to see Freddy Ferrer, but because for many Monday was only the second day of classes in their first year of college. A few didn't even know that it was Ferrer whom they were going to see; they were let of class early and told to go to the gym, so they did. 'Twas a strange crowd to hear Freddy, on primary eve, give the loudest and probably clearest rationale yet for his run.

"You are the story I'm trying to tell in this campaign for mayor," Ferrer told the kids. "What we're fighting over is not a few political points, but a vision of New York."

"You know there are some people who think New York City is a theme park, who want to build a multimillion dollar football stadium but who don't get serious about affordable housing and decent jobs," Ferrer added. Heads were nodding now. Then there's the dropout rate. "I don't have to tell you where those kids will end up unless we bring them back in and save them." And then the up-from-Fox-Street story. Now, surprised smiles in the crowd (Do they live there?). "Every morning when you look in the mirror, you are looking at that story, too. You see, Mike Bloomberg and I see this city in different terms because we come from different places."

One in the crowd who planned to vote, and said he'd vote for Ferrer, was Rene, a first-year student studying to be a medical assistant who pays his bills by working as a doorman, a bouncer at a club, and a martial arts instructor. His girlfriend talked him into going to school, even offering to pay for it if he had to quit one of his jobs to make time. "He's always cared about the community," Rene said of the former beep.

When Freddy was done, Monroe College president Stephen Monroe pointed out Marsha Kramer and Gabe Pressman to the crowd; they were cheered. Outside, under the elevated 4 train, the sound truck with the massive Ferrer sign plastered on it was pumping meringue. The kids went back to class, or to their jobs, and Freddy moved on.

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