Weiner Won’t Go Away
Anthony Weiner won’t go away. He certainly won’t go quietly. The mayoral hopeful and now possibly just mayoral long shot, stopped by The Wave on Wednesday afternoon to make his case that he still deserves a vote for the job of mayor. He clearly would rather talk about jobs, education, housing, transportation and what he perceives are the weaknesses of his opponents. He laments the “circusfication” of the campaign and is frustrated that the focus of his campaign has been bogged down by the recent revelation that his online activities which triggered his resignation from Congress in June, 2011 continued into 2012.
Frustrating though it may be for Weiner, he found no escape at The Wave. Challenged repeatedly about his “second chance” request and the “forgiveness” he sought when he first launched his campaign in May, Weiner insisted he wasn’t dishonest. “I thought I was being as clear as I could be. If you want to characterize it as dishonest, you’re wrong.” When it was suggested that he could have admitted that the actions that caused him to resign from Congress continued even after his public downfall in 2011, he said “Was that a fence post? Fair enough. Point taken. Maybe I should have said that.”
But, it was pointed out, he hadn’t and was pressed again that his campaign launch and reintroduction to the public struck many as deceitful. “I said more pictures might be out there. More stuff would come out. The timeline, in my mind, was something in the past. I said it was in the past. Maybe I should have said it started here and ended there. Fair enough. I concede that.”
Much of the first part of his visit was a circular argument with his responses revealing the familiar Anthony Weiner persona – the one who can be part defiant, part defensive, part insistent; part rhetorical. He appeared offended one moment; chastened the next. He used some questions about his judgment and actions to point to shortcomings of his opponents.
“Why do you believe it’s relevant to the job of mayor? Of course, you have to weigh it for yourself. Did I do anything to hurt you? What did I do that impacted your life? I hope you ask those questions and I hope you ask if decisions by the other people have affected you as a taxpayer. Have the others been honest?
“If you disqualify me for my personal behavior I just ask you two things. Consider my strengths, my ideas, the fact that I’m not beholden to anyone. And two, gather information on the personal lives of others.”
When asked about his judgment and if voters should consider that when deciding on a mayor, Weiner said “If you believe judgments in my personal life, where I have personal failings, if you equate that to I can’t then make good judgment about health care and other issues, that’s your prerogative.” He went on to say that he would like others to be considered in the same light even alluding to Mayor Giuliani’s press conference in which he announced his separation from his wife, though she hadn’t been so informed.
When asked about how voters could trust him or take him at his word, he said, “I was caught saying things about my private life that weren’t true. But I ask you to look at what I told people at town halls about Obamacare. I said I would get money for a ferry and I did. The Bloomberg administration did not use that money. I would ask you to go through what I told people when I represented Rockaway and I think I proved you can believe me.”
Weiner said he was the candidate of ideas. He said municipal workers should pay something towards health care. Labor unions and schools should set up some sort of apprenticeship programs to promote vocational learning. Real estate taxes should be reviewed and rethought. One example, was his idea that coastal properties which may face burdensome flood insurance premiums should be revalued and not face the same property taxes as like properties in non-coastal areas.
He is not is favor of the reactivation of the Rockaway Branch Line. He said a great opportunity was lost when the Airtrain that runs over the Van Wyck Expressway made a turn towards Jamaica instead of towards Laguardia Airport and onto the city. It could have been tied into Rockaway service. He said the Rockaway Branch is not a realistic option, and that if “we’re going to invest that much I believe there are other options. Such as an ‘express A’. I think exploring adding a track to the A Line is something to consider. There are options. And ferry service is coming to Rockaway if I’m mayor. Period. End of story.”
Weiner said he is “perfectly positioned” to be mayor because he is not beholden to any groups or special interests. “Rockaway is a poster child for poor civic planning,” he said. “But crisis breeds opportunity. There is now opportunity in Rockaway. I’m not gonna promise you the sky but I will promise you this, you have someone in me who understands the issues of Rockaway and is going to be responsive.”
Weiner left The Wave office and headed to the Beach 97th Street concession area to speak about beach protection. His Rockaway-filled day continued later as he joined a rally drawing attention to service and staff cuts going on at St. John’s Hospital, Rockaway’s only hospital.