It may be hard to decide just what was the reason that I call last night's 11th Council debate held by Lehman College & The Bronx Journal Radio moderated by Michael Serrano a sham. Was it that candidate Cliff Stanton during the moderator question and answer period always was given the favorable position by moderator Serrano of answering last while his two opponents rotated as first and second? Was it that when called on it Mr. Serrano's answer was that as moderator he could? Was it that when the audience question and answer period began more than one person called on was wearing a Stanton for council t-shirt, and most of the other questions came from more Stanton supporters? Was it that of the 60 people in the audience no more than a dozen were actually impartial? Was it that the once highly respected Riverdale Press tried to assassinate the character of Mr. Andrew Cohen one of candidate Stanton's opponents? Or was it that the leader of the group of hired mercenaries who collected signatures for candidate Stanton, has been the only endorsement of candidate Stanton, listed as being on the Stanton payroll, and also wearing a Stanton for council t-shirt got to ask the last question? You decide. I will also say that the Cohen side did get to have one question get in, but that was because the person who asked the question was not sitting next to anyone and looked like an impartial member of the audience.
The debate started with moderator Michael Serrano saying that politics is not at the top of every ones list then apologizing for the poor turnout. He added "Outside of Riverdale people do not know that there is an election", and went on for a few more minutes until he introduced the candidates. Each of the three candidates Andrew Cohen, Cheryl Keeling, and Cliff Stanton gave opening statements. Cohen highlighted his community and judicial experience adding his endorsements by almost every elected official and union. Keeling highlighted her business experience and her education background. Stanton highlighted his experience as a parent leader, as a chief of staff to a city councilman (however giving no name), successful businessman, and of organizing education and community options.
Questions geared more to the area where the debate was held were asked of the candidates by the moderator. They included Stop and Frisk, Oval Park, public and charter schools, City Council lulu's, and state testing, As for the answers they generally were the same, but going last on every question gave candidate Stanton an advantage to hear his opponents answers then give his. On Stop and Frisk all agreed that something had to be done, but Stanton added that he was stopped by a police car on his way home and ticketed for talking on a cell phone that he said he was not. On Oval Park all agreed that more trash cans were needed, but Stanton plugged a local park group just set up (apparently for him). On public and charter schools candidate Cohen said that he was against co-location of charter schools in public school buildings, and that they must be responsible to the community. Keeling said that charter schools generally come into areas where the public schools are not doing well. Stanton said that charter schools are public schools, and touted the charter school he said he helped organize. On lulu's Keeling said that council members really work only 17 and 1/2 hours a week, and if she had to work more as a committee chair that she wanted the lulu that went with it. Cohen said that he would not have a lulu held over his head by the speaker, and that he would be a full time councilman. Stanton spoke of the corruption in the council and indictments of politicians, and that he can be trusted. On state testing issue there were three different answers. Cohen said that it was the mayors fault, Keeling spoke of the private school she worked in, and Stanton spoke of the charter school that he helped create giving options to parents.
A short intermission was then taken. This was where I asked the moderator why he always asked either candidate Cohen or Keeling to answer first while letting candidate Stanton answer last to every of his questions. Mr. Serrano the moderator told me that was the way he did it, and before the audience Q&A said that he was asked why candidate Stanton always went last stating "Because he can as the moderator".
I am not going into the question and answer period by the audience, because I believe other than one or possibly two questions, all the rest were asked by candidate Stanton supporters with the exception of one by candidate Cohen supporters. No one wearing a candidates t-shirt should have been allowed to ask a question, and it was shameful of the so called Pulitzer prize winning Riverdale Press to try to assassinate the character of candidate Andrew Cohen because that newspaper claims three local elected officials (who support candidate Cohen) have shut them out due to their reporting. I then asked the moderator to let another newspaper question the candidates since he let the Stanton leaning paper ask a question. I asked all three candidates if they would send their child to a school that had no auditorium, lunchroom, gym, music or art rooms, and was going to teach children in an area that use to be a garage. Candidates Keeling and Cohen said no, while candidate Stanton said that the question was aimed at him because that was what the charter school he had helped set up had turned into. By the way candidate Stanton said that he had not sent his child to the charter school he helped setup to give parents other options. No Mr. Stanton if you knew your public schools I could be describing a few places in School District 10, and many more places city wide where children have to learn where those conditions have existed in the past and still do today or are even worse.
When the second person wearing a Stanton t-shirt asked a question, candidate Andrew Cohen was right to say "Should someone on Mr. Stanton's payroll be asking me a question, but I will answer it anyway". Afterwards even candidate Cheryl Keeling commented on what went on during this so called debate, but asked that I not print what she had said. As you will see in the 2nd photo below the head of the hired mercenary group (who will be called Mr. Z) which candidate Stanton has on his payroll also attacked the credibility of Councilman Oliver Koppell (seated in the audience) whom Mr. Z has said he helped elect in 2005 & 2009.
Moderator Michael Serrano standing in front of candidates Andrew Cohen, Cheryl Keeling, and Cliff Stanton as he partially blocks candidate Andrew Cohen.
Left - The first of many Stanton supporters who were given the chance to question the candidates. notice the Stanton for council t-shirt.
Right - Mr. Z also in a Stanton t-shirt and on the Stanton payroll who asked candidate Cohen a question then went on to attack Councilman Koppell who seems to be ignoring the speaker.
I expect several comments especially by Mr. Z, and warn that any improper comments or any comments that attack another candidate or myself will not be published.