News & Politics

Tony Avella Throws High and Hard at Debate

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Listening to Queens councilman Tony Avella at last
night’s Democratic mayoral candidates’ debate was like
watching “Wild Thing” Vaughn, the rookie pitcher played by
Charlie Sheen in the old movie, “Major League.” Like “Wild
Thing,” Avella throws a torrid fast ball. Like “Wild
Thing,” he’s also just as likely to kill a cruising seagull
as find the plate.

Avella’s volleys of high hard-ones drew the loudest
and most sustained applause from the audience. Undoubtedly,
many people clapped to keep from freezing to death as the
AC was cranked up to sub-zero in the marvelous glass-domed
refrigeration room known as the Celeste Bartos Forum at the
New York Public Library where the debate was held.

Despite the chill, Avella’s face shone with a thin
glaze of sweat as he brought on the heat, giving true-blue
Dems fed up with Mike Bloomberg plenty to cheer about.
Since this week’s Quinnipiac poll shows that rival Bill
Thompson stands to trounce Avella in next month’s primary
at a rate of 45 percent to 10, Avella had nothing to lose.
He won just by showing up and giving New Yorkers tuned in
to the live NY1 debate broadcast a chance to see him and
hear him. He did such a good job of stoking the anti-
Bloomberg fires that Thompson – whose goal was to look
tough but mayoral – often sounded like a faint echo.

Here are some of Avella’s withering blasts:

–On Bloomberg’s claims of improving education: “I
don’t care how many millions he spends on his TV ads
claiming education improvements. It’s a lot of bunk!”

–On schools chancellor Joel Klein: “I’d fire him.
I’ve been saying that for years.”

–On Bloomberg’s successful push to overturn term
limits: “It was an absolute disgrace. A fatal blow to
democracy.”

–On the mayor’s increased personal wealth since
taking office: “How is it that he was worth $4 billion when
he took office, and then, in a recession, he’s now worth
$16-$18 billion?”

–On Bloomberg’s failed plan for congestion pricing on
cars entering midtown: “I was against it. No one drives
into Manhattan because he wants to.”

–On Bloomberg’s increased donations to local
nonprofit and cultural groups: “He’s not donating that
money for charitable purposes.”

–On charge that he doesn’t mix well with others in
the City Council: “You’re damn right I don’t get along with
some of those council members who raised their own pay and
take money from real estate developers.”

–On police “stop and frisk” encounters, now at an
all-time high: “Just end it. Stop the practice. I think it
serves a hidden purpose. Get a new police commissioner.
Let’s get back to the cop on the beat.”

–On abuses by council-members in discretionary grants
to local groups: “I’d end all discretionary funds.”

–On balance of power between council and mayor over
budget issues: “I’d be the first mayor to give up budget
power. Give more to the council.”

–On having raised only $271,000 for his campaign so
far: “I’m not dialing for dollars. I’m not taking money
from real estate developers.”

–On construction delays at ground zero: “It’s a
disgrace. The city should’ve Use eminent domain to seize
the property and build the project itself.”

–On city transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-
Khan: “She should be fired.”

–On improving the economy: “We need to bring back the
manufacturing jobs.”

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