by Bryan Farrell*
Standing outside the Church of Holy Apostles in Chelsea, Rep. Anthony Weiner on Wednesday unveiled his latest policy proposal—this one’s to fight poverty in New York. There was proof of the problem right behind him: The crowd of campaign supporters and reporters would have doubled had the group of hungry mouths that emptied from the church’s soup kitchen been invited to listen.
Weiner spouted out the latest facts and figures from census data released yesterday: “One in five New Yorkers live in poverty. . . .That’s 100,000 more since 2002. . . . 500,000 children have shown up at soup kitchens the past year.” His most passionate claim, however, was against the fingerprinting requirement enacted during the Giuliani administration in 1995, which Weiner said “has prevented 300,000 kids” from getting food stamps. “We must lower the barriers,” the congressman cried. “The food stamp program is the most successful way to lift children out of poverty.” It seemed like a “Hell yeah!” was in order, but no one from the community was there to yell it.
Then Weiner briefly outlined the rest of his progressive plan to combat poverty, which includes using school lunch programs to deliver health care to uninsured children, seeding loans to encourage the growth of small businesses, building networks between hospitals and churches, establishing a mayoral office that networks nonprofit organizations in the city, and demanding the state provide matching funds for homeless housing. “Mayor Bloomberg has said that everything is okay, but articulated little about his vision,” Weiner said. “That’s not the case for one in five New Yorkers.”
Hell, yeah. It would have been a juicy photo op had Weiner—who has fashioned himself as the candidate for middle class New Yorkers—brought a few of the hungry folks behind him out to speak. But we were eating on the run.
* Starting this week, Power Plays will expand to include regular bulletins from more reporters.