2013-10-04 / Letters

Come Out, Wherever You Are

Dear Editor:

Democratic Party Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is following the infamous Rose Garden Strategy of ignoring underdog Republican challenger Joe Lhota and refusing to participate in a series of public debates between now and Election Day. De Blasio is stalling by claiming there is plenty of time to work out a schedule of debates. In the meantime, he has time daily to roll out endorsements from fellow Democrats on the steps of City Hall. He is running out the clock in negotiations between the two with the goal of agreeing to a handful of debates knowing full well that his election is already preordained. Lhota has challenged him to a series of five debates, one in each borough. de Blasio has only agreed to three debates to date. Leading up to the September Democratic Party Primary starting in January, de Blasio participated in over 100 forums and debates almost daily with Quinn, Thompson, Liu, Weiner and Albanese.

Prior to the ‘80s, both Democratic and Republican candidates participated in numerous television and newspaper editorial board debates. Voters could look beyond TV commercial sound bites to learn about real views and issues among the candidates.

Those candidates who refused to participate in these debates would be subject to critical newspaper editorials. They ended up losing newspaper endorsements and usually went down to defeat.

A new Rose Garden Strategy emerged. Incumbents or officially designated incumbent candidates refused to debate lesser-known, under-funded opponents. They had no interest in providing a free forum for challengers to get their message directly out to voters. Too many newspapers and good government groups failed to speak up and shame them into participating in open forums and debates.

Why not participate in debates sponsored by each of NYC's daily newspapers and television stations?

Enlightened newspapers such as The Wave should call for an end to any candidate’s use of the infamous Rose Garden Strategy. Intelligent voters deserve frequent debates as opposed to canned TV commercials.

If de Blasio refuses to participate in a series of debates with his underdog challenger Lhota, he should be subject to critical newspaper editorials. He should forfeit any chance of endorsements by media outlets.

LARRY PENNER

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