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The Gov Debate Was Not Worth the Attention of These New Yorkers

Monday, October 18, 2010 - 11:00 PM

It may have been a seven-ring circus for a lot of other folks, but for the residents of the Robert Fulton Terrace complex at 530-540 East 169th Street and Third Avenue in The Bronx, the only televised 2010 gubernatorial debate was not important enough to warrant 90 minutes out of their evening. 

The Robert Fulton Terrace Community Center—with a capacity of 150 people—hosted a mere 10 individuals who joined to watch the debate tonight.  The visual was projected from a PC onto a make-shift projector screen. Maybe the rest of their neighbors chose to stay in their own apartments and forego the sodas and snacks provided for the watch party.

But Fulton Terrace is located just 1.7 miles away from Yankee Stadium, so it also may have been the highly anticipated third game of the American League Division Championship Series between the Bronx Bombers and the Texas Rangers that kept the crowd away.

Given the current state of uncertainty facing the residents of Fulton Terrace, I anticipated a higher level of interest in the State’s affairs and more attention paid to what the aspirants to the Governor’s throne had to offer them. 

You see, just this past July, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M Development Partners and manager of a $100 million Citigroup fund to invest in low-and moderate-income housing, "pointed to two buildings in the Bronx as ones the fund is considering: Fordham Towers and Robert Fulton Terrace. Both buildings are in foreclosure and were bought by a group of private investors, which purchased the properties after a previous owner removed them from the Mitchell-Lama program. The buildings are financially distressed, but Mr. Moelis said they were in decent physical shape, making them potentially attractive investments."

On Monday evening, the residents of the Robert Fulton Terrace complex are just some of the individuals that comprise the approximately 224,900 households within the 16th U.S. Congressional District. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 16th CD is the poorest in the entire nation. The dubious distinction is bestowed on the area represented by Congressman José E. Serrano—who represents a district where 38 percent of residents live below the poverty line and an astonishing 49% of its children live in poverty. According to the Census Bureau's most recent American Community Survey, 58.8 percent of the residents in the 16th CD listed Spanish as the language spoken at home.

The clear winner for the handful of viewers with me was New York City Councilman Charles Barron. Brother Barron connected with these folks the most and the consensus was that he came out of the encounter victorious. However, the black glove-wearing Jimmy McMillan and his ‘Rent is Too Damn High Party’ quips certainly provided this crowd with the most laughs.  

For those that believed that Carl Paladino could not possibly do anything else to extinguish his chances of beating the anointed Democrat Andrew Cuomo, they were wrong. Mr. Paladino proved beyond any reasonable and objective doubt, that in addition to being unqualified to serve as Governor, he isn’t even worthy of sitting on the same stage as ex-Madam Kirsten Davis.

Gerson Borrero is a columnist for El Diario La Prensa and blogs at borreroreport.com.

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