Smells Like Team Spirit


With Democratic unity a big theme for Fernando Ferrer, any chinks in the donkeys’ armor loom large, especially when they’re named Vallone. Thus, this weekend’s endorsement of Mayor Bloomberg by former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., and current City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., was not a good thing for the Democratic candidate. So you’d expect the rest of the party to give the Vallones a cold shoulder, at least for a couple weeks. Instead, the Brooklyn Young Democrats will be hosting the elder Vallone tomorrow for a reading from his new memoirs, Learning to Govern: My Life in New York Politics, From Hell Gate to City Hall.

“We schedule our events at least two months in advance,” explains Young Dems president L. Joy Williams, who says around 50 people normally show up for events hosted by the group, which is open to people 35 and younger, has high school chapters, and last year sent 122 member around the country to try to elect John Kerry. “Obviously Brooklyn Young Democrats support Freddy Ferrer,” she adds. Williams, an aide to Vallone’s successor Gifford Miller, says the former speaker will talk about his decades in office. “We won’t be discussing his endorsement of the mayor.”

As for Vallone’s entertaining book (Chaucer Press), what does it say about Freddy? According to the elder Peter, during the 1987 budget talks Bronx borough president Ferrer and his Queens counterpart Claire Shulman were the “only ones willing to negotiate.” But years later Ferrer was a “vociferous naysayer” to the city charter changes that followed a federal court’s declaration that the Board of Estimate was unconstitutional. Finally, Ferrer the 2001 mayoral candidate had “an unassailable record as champion of the city’s minority populations.”

And on Bloomberg?

I was surprised to hear that Mike Bloomberg would be amenable to meeting with me. On December 4, 1997, we had a cup of coffee together in his offices. During our chat he asked me what I thought about his chances of winning if he ran for mayor in the Democratic primary. “None,” I told him. . . . “As a Republican, though,” I went on to tell him, “you’d have quite a shot, because in the Republican Party money means a lot, they don’t have the grass roots.”