Dem Mayoral Hopes Have Pulse (Literally)


Giff Miller’s homeland security plan for dummy

The indignities of running for public office sometimes make it hard to deny any candidate credit for simply putting themselves through it. The people running for mayor drag themselves out into 95-degree heat wearing business suits to get minor endorsements. They truck from political brunch to lunch to dinner but don’t really eat because they can’t afford to get too fat. Being mayor might be an ego trip but getting there isn’t.

A case in point: Today, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller—the third highest-ranking official in the city—delivered an address on homeland security in a classroom for trauma medicine at Borough of Manhattan Community College. In the back of the room was a life-size, high-tech medical mannequin with eyes that blinked and a chest that rose and fell as he “breathed.” A large screen tracked the heartbeat and respiration of this plastic patient who, your Voice reporter confirmed, is anatomically correct.

It was understandable that BMCC had to bring in staff to fill the 30 seats in the room to hear Miller talk—not many New York City voters can make an 11:15 a.m. event. But it was a little unsettling, as Miller paused in his remarks, to hear the stricken android exhaling behind us. Insert your favorite campaign metaphor/joke here: “Hey, that’s one vote Bloomberg won’t get” … “I guess [NAME]’s campaign isn’t the only thing on life support!” Nyuk, nyuk.

But seriously folks, Miller’s speech began where many of the Democrats have founded their critique of the Bloomberg: that the Republican mayor doesn’t fight hard enough against his Republican allies in Washington. In this case, Miller said, the problem is that “Dick Cheney’s home state of Wyoming got seven times more in domestic security funding per capita than New York.” Asked later on what the mayor of New York City could do about a federal funding formula, Miller said that as the country’s “urban leader,” Hizzoner could take his case to the highest authorities in D.C.—or at the very least, not praise the GOP when they come to his under-funded town for the national convention, as the Dems assert Bloomberg did.

Miller went beyond the “Republican Mike” attack, however, and proposed that New York City appoint a Director of Homeland Security to act as a “tiebreaker at the scene of an emergency,” if fire and police officials can’t agree on who should lead the response. He also called for spending $100 million to upgrade hospitals to respond to a possible attack (noting that at present, New York City only has 66 burn beds available), and promised if elected to enlist 50,000 New Yorkers in the Citizen Corps, a group of volunteers that would train neighborhood groups in how to respond to a mass emergency. He also suggested using the facilities of the 19 CUNY campuses as part of an emergency response plan, and securing the city’s own supply of anthrax vaccine. The spat over federal funding aside, Miller said, “We simply have to do more for ourselves.”

Back to the mannequin: A BMCC staffer had explained that a computer can make the guy sick and, if students do their thing right, he can get better. Or he can get worse, and even die. When Miller finished his remarks, the mannequin was still breathing.