Six months ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared unstoppable in his quest to win election to a third term. But the economic crisis has forced him to make decisions that are bound to be unpopular. No one ever won an election by being fiscally responsible.
In recent days, his potential rivals, city Comptroller Bill Thompson and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, are gaining on him. Councilman Tony Avella, who announced his intention to run last year, is still far back in the pack. Avella has a record of constituent services and his support should be strong in northeast Queens.
Like Alfonse D’Amato, who earned the moniker “Senator Pothole,” Avella has fought hard for his constituents. But his judgment has been questionable. For example, last week, at Avella’s request, the Council held hearings on the carriage industry. It did not matter to Avella that tourists love carriage rides through Central Park or that by killing this industry he will be taking food off people’s tables. Nor did he listen to carriage drivers, who tried to explain that they care about their horses.
In another halfâˆ’baked crusade, Avella defended a breed of wild Argentinean parrots that have survived in Brooklyn for more than 10 years. Con Ed said some of the parrots’ nests had become a fire hazard. Avella came up with a resolution that would outlaw the parrots’ capture and relocate the endangered ones.
Avella would have done better to focus on a humane solution to the problem of the Canada geese that nest in and around Queens, jeopardizing airplanes taking off from LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.
And Avella tried to close a popular Koreanâˆ’run health spa in College Point for reasons that were dubious, another move that would have put honest people out of work.
His campaign for mayor will be an uphill climb. Although we often disagree with him, we have known Avella since he was a community worker for the Koch administration and respect his work ethic and concern for Queens residents.
But his stand on the parrots, spa and carriage horses call his judgment into question.