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Analyzing NYC’s Mayoral Elections: Adolfo Carrión, Jr. (Part II of V)

This is an on-going series analyzing New York City’s 2013 mayoral race. To read the introduction, click here.

Adolfo Carrión, Jr. – Independent Party candidate

I must admit, before October 9th, I had never heard of Carrion before.  Watching him in the debate with only Joseph Lhota did not impress me at all and I decided to view his policies as I felt I was not aware of what he represented.

Let me first begin to say, however, the title of “Independent” is a misnomer for those unaware. Carrion originally was a Democrat until last year where he left the Democratic Party and became an Independent. It must be noted this makes him more suspicious of his policies as he can lie to the public over such policies, while advocating an agenda for the establishment.

Carrion, strangely (I sincerely mean it), did not go the full independent route and attempted to be a Republican contender. However, just a few months later, he flip-flopped to an attitude where he is independent of Democrats and Republicans.

To this day, I do not understand why Carrion would do it if he is saying New Yorkers are smart to know the difference between the two parties. Wouldn’t they also be smart to know he actively wanted to be on the Republican ticket but was overshadowed? Doesn’t it make his candidacy less credible as a result?

I can’t say since 75 percent of New Yorkers don’t know him or probably never heard of him like I did.

A brief history of Carrion should give an image of where he comes from and where he stands in the election so far.

Carrion had the usual upbringing as a servant for the civil life through the public sector, elected to District Boards, elected to City Council, elected to Bronx Borough President and using his status to champion causes and acts he felt were necessary in his tenure. His work to raise awareness of Naval bombings of Vieques, Puerto Rico were right to do and surprisingly had an honest opinion many, including me, would agree with:

“It’s not great to be incarcerated. That’s for sure,” he told WNYC’s Beth Fertig at the time. “And I never imagined that I would. But when you engage in an act of conscience and an act of civil disobedience, you know there’s a price to pay.”

Notably, Carrion was appointed by Barack Obama as Director of the Office of Urban Affairs, which is a part of the executive branch. It ensured, as Obama stated, “focus on wise investments and development in our urban areas that will create employment and housing opportunities.”

This was in 2009 and the situation for millions of Americans, as many articles point out, had not seen anything remotely close to “wise investments” or “development in urban areas.” Yet, he states his work in office had accomplished much as his biography on his campaign site notes:

Carrión’s work at the White House resulted in the establishment of a White House Urban Policy Working Group, as well as a comprehensive interagency review of the federal government’s engagement with urban and metropolitan areas. It was the first review of its kind in 30 years.

He had a scandal in the beginning of his tenure for breaking the law with a “conflict of interest” with another developer who needed help in approving of a project he was doing, which is all related to the real estate industry. This was related to a bribery and corruption probe the New York Department of Investigation conducted with the developer’s company, Boricua Village. He paid a $10,000 fine for what occurred, apologized and has not been further penalized since.

Additionally, he was confirmed by the Senate as the Regional Administrator of the Department of Housing and Urban Development for New York and New Jersey that saw him, as his site notes, “overseeing $6 billion in HUD investments in New York and New Jersey.” He loved housing so much that he left to enter the private industry and created “Metro Futures, LLC, a consulting and real estate development firm.”

It is no surprise that later one of his policies features a revamped model of the FIRE sector for his own campaign based on his experience in the real estate industry.

He then left the HUD in 2012 and left the Democratic Party that same year. Davidson Goldin, someone close to him, told the New York Times:

Given the yearning for an alternative to the special interests and a leader who can focus on rebuilding and uniting all five boroughs, the coalescing of support around Adolfo Carrión as a candidate for mayor makes complete sense.

This backfired on Carrion as Ruben Diaz, Democratic Bronx Borough President, commented that he was unaware of what Carrion’s strategy was and puzzled by what occurred. Moreover, he elaborated on an interesting point:

‘The one thing we hate the most is when somebody abandons us,’ said Mr. Díaz. ‘Especially when we gave that individual the opportunities he’s had in life, in the party, whether he ran for City Council, whether he ran for borough president, when he went to the White House, it was Democrats that offered him that opportunity.’

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels once wrote in the Manifesto of the Communist Party:

The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

If, in this case, the rule of Carrion was to continue the existing rule for the elite, then his resignation would result in two options. Either Carrion falls back on the other side of rule (the Republican method) or creates his own method of rule. There is no indication that Carrion would create policies relating to New Yorkers as he mentions voters are socially liberal and fiscally conservative — a running theme in this election — yet only two to three percent of New Yorkers would bother voting for him.

Perhaps most striking out of all his policies was his vision from leading a FIRE (Financial, Insurance and Real Estate) sector to a FREIT (Financial, Real Estate, Intelligence Technology) sector. He acknowledges, perhaps implying, that the FIRE sector — of which he notes on his site he owns a business in the real estate industry — is a vital part of our economy, though the insurance industry must be replaced with intelligence technology.

We will still have industries that produce nothing, while gaining wealth at the expense of others. In fact, this is the most revealing part of Carrion’s campaign as allowing a sector that does nothing suggests potential stumbles to occur.

Furthermore, I have deep reservations over someone allowing the FREIT sector to blossom without seriously discussing the financial consequences of being “pro-business” in a city that needs pro-people plans.

For instance, Carrion has never touched (to my knowledge) upon the subject of a financial speculation tax on Wall Street trading. If he is serious in investing in education as he claims in interviews, then surely a tax passed would raise funds to build and sustain those schools he clamors for students. Though, I am assuming, based on his numerous claims of being “pro-business” and being for the FREIT sector, it would not happen.

This leads into a major criticism of Carrion as a candidate. He claims to be an alternative to both the Democrats and the Republicans, but has no lasting appeal or platform to show himself as an independent candidate. Indeed, Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio is, arguably, more independent than Lhota and Carrion combined.

Take one aspect of what Carrion has spoken about with his thoughts on stop and frisk:

We cannot throw out stop-and-frisk. What we have to do is fix it. We know that it’s not yielding the results, that it’s possibly being overused and it has a severely negative impact on the relationship between communities of color in the city, largely, which are the lion’s share of the people who are stopped and frisked, and the government and the police force.

This is a lie Carrion refuses (with good reason) to admit. How can a program like stop and frisk not yield results, when the results were to, in the words of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, “instill fear” in black and Latino youth? Moreover, if all of these “overused” stop and frisks were stopped, then only 14% of them would result in those not black or Latino.

Clearly, there is something wrong here and Carrion gives a poor excuse to justify stop and frisk when asked what to tell those who are affected:

‘You tell them that, “Unfortunately, we live in a society where, still, race and ethnicity and sometimes zip code, are often determinative of how authority deals with you and the expectations that are you put upon you,”‘

This is difficult to grasp when reading it. The problem is not society allowing the discrimination, but the powers-that-be which allow the discrimination to occur.

Should we lay down and accept authority’s discrimination without a challenge? Who gave them the authority in the first place and why is it legitimate? Why does it exist in our society to begin with and can we break the barrier down?

These questions are not something Carrion is addressing in his campaign. In fact, he attempts, for some strange reason, to point out “BS” in debates as he is not eligible for more debates with the two candidates. He mentions in a campaign video:

I’ll be honest. I’ll be direct. I’ll call out the B.S.

Being honest and direct is not a part of the Carrion campaign. He is unsure as to whether the Republicans or Democrats suit his needs when running for office. If he was serious in his campaigning, he would reach out to voters with real messages of establishing unions in the fast food industry, taxing the rich in NYC, arresting Wall Street gamblers outside of their headquarters and other needed changes in New York City.

By far, one of the most confusing things of his campaign is stating on his website under “Job Creation“:

We will target training toward growth industries that we know will be the economic engine of our city well into the future, including light manufacturing, financial services and real estate, healthcare research and delivery, tourism, information technology, and construction. This means we will focus on basic skills and give special emphasis to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

New York, or even the United States, does not need more students with STEM degrees as the field is over-saturated with them. In fact, 11.4 million STEM majors work in fields that do not relate to the STEM sector. So much for that honesty that Carrion speaks about.

But I must be fair to Carrion because he does not target STEM, rather he transforms it into STEAM (arts included) as seen under “Education” on his website:

A Public School Curriculum based on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics — will prepare students for the modern economy while also providing the tried and true enrichment of a strong liberal arts curriculum;

I am all for an increase in the arts, but I am preoccupied by the emphasis on STEM. Lack of a basic plan on education risks the entire idea of funding the arts and the direction of it. Even if musician David Byrne was the head of the STEAM program, I would still have reservations.

Despite all the shortcomings, mistakes and lack of image to New Yorkers, Carrion still sees this as a three-way race:

Many members of the press and other folks have cast this as a two-way race between a Democrat and Republican and then there’s everybody else. Well I am here to let you know that this year we have a three-way race with an independent candidate for mayor of New York City.

Carrion desperately brought a plan that Politicker called “his first major policy proposal” that was just another attempt at public-private partnership in public schools:

Just imagine for a moment an auditorium that is the performing arts platform for that neighborhood. Just imagine a schoolyard with a farmer’s market. Just imagine a town hall meeting occurring in a cafeteria. Just imagine job training expos going on and businesses coming into the school and cultural organizations coming into the schools and offering all of these enhancements that the average upper middle class and wealthy kid has all across this country.

It makes no sense to emphasize schooling when there are larger issues at stake.

Carrion will fail November 5th, he will barely get 5% of the vote and will have little to no funds (as he is already facing) to catch up to the other candidates. Again, if Carrion was actually serious and thought about instituting a major change to New York City, he would be ahead of Lhota. Alas, he is not serious and won’t get much in this election.

One final point must be on Bloomberg’s role in the 2009 mayoral election as an independent compared to Carrion currently. The key difference between the two is that one is the seventh-richest person in the United States and the other isn’t.

The story here is not his race. Rather, it is what occurs after the election. It will be interesting to see what occurs to him after the election (perhaps more real estate?).

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Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan

Brandon Jordan is a freelance journalist in Queens, NY and written for publications such as The Nation, In These Times, Truthout and more.