Baltimore Election 2011: Lessons Learned

For the many of us who are anxious to move beyond the broken status quo in Baltimore, yesterday’s primary election was disappointing and frustrating.

Still, there’s a lot of valuable information to be gleaned that helps us build a better map of Baltimore’s electorate – from its many problems to its deep divisions.

  • Turnout was pathetically low: 70,416 of 380,000 (18.5%). Some have said that “the issues didn’t resonate with voters,” and that could be true. However, a bigger trend to watch for is the decline of turnout generally. Many “seniors,” who made up the core of the voting population, are now dead or dying. How will we address this trend?
  • Voters are either displeased with, or not sure about, Rawlings-Blake’s leadership. 48% of voters felt we are definitely on the wrong track with Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Many more aren’t sure, but wanted to give her a chance with a full term in office. And there are 310,000 other voters who must feel so disconnected that they declined to express any opinion at all. There is no mandate here.
  • Otis Rolley swept the online progressive community. Any observer of the online world would have told you that Otis would have won in a landslide; his supporters kept a steady drumbeat on Twitter, Facebook, and on blogs throughout the campaign, and especially election day. But however strong he may have been in that community, he garnered just shy of 9,000 votes. No other candidate received any measurable online presence. This is further proof of Baltimore’s deep digital divide.
  • Too many candidates spoil the race. This would have been a very different race if Rolley, Pugh, Landers and Conaway had teamed up to challenge the Mayor. Pugh had nothing to lose by running; she keeps her Senate seat. Landers could have assisted Rolley with his tax plan. Conaway had no business being in the race at all. A two-way race between a Pugh-endorsed Rolley and Rawlings-Blake would have had a very different donor make-up, would have told a different story in the press, and would have had a different outcome.
  • Name recognition still carries weight. Dithering City Councilman Carl Stokes won again in the 12th district, despite a strong and credible challenge from the earnest and organized Odette Ramos. “Pistol Pete” Welch held his (inherited) seat, despite challenges from Abigail Breiseth and Christopher Taylor. These were both split-field races against “name brand” incumbents that also demonstrated the persistent racial divides in Baltimore.
  • Foolishness and incompetence will eventually get you booted. In a bright spot, it was nothing short of refreshing to see that Belinda Conaway was ousted from her seat by newcomer Nick Mosby. Conaway, in suing blogger Adam Meister for $21M (for his factual articles about her place of residence), spurred Mosby to run, and he won – 2,747 to 2099. One bear down, two to go.
  • City Council is broken. Baltimore’s system of government has a strong executive (Mayor) and a weak legislature (City Council). The City Council has been such a refuge of scoundrels that few want to be associated with it. Some suggested that Landers or Rolley should run for City Council president as a way to some day be mayor. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust a Mayoral candidate that was coming from City Council. There’s too much incompetence and corruption.
  • Our elections are broken. It’s ridiculous that our choice of Mayor would be made in a September primary, but with no viable Republican or Independent candidates, it’s the way things are. We need to get open primaries, or hold a run-off in November. My understanding is that this can be changed via petition and referendum, which means it is doable outside of the current political structure. This needs to be pursued immediately. Too many voters were disenfranchised in this process, and it’s unreasonable to ask people to switch parties in order to vote.
  • The Mayor spent (wasted?) roughly $2 Million on just 37,000 votes. In an election with just 71,000 votes cast, nearly $4 Million was spent. In a real way, the Mayor (and her tax-break seeking contributors) bought the election. The cost in the end to her was roughly $54 per vote. In a city with so much pain and brokenness, I find this morally repugnant. It’s worth nothing that Otis Rolley also spent roughly $50 per vote, so this metric is not a coincidence. It’s the “acquisition cost” of a vote in a top-tier modern Baltimore City election. We need to focus on lowering that cost.
  • The incumbent Mayor always wins. This is because the incumbent Mayor influences city business, and city contractors and developers know Baltimore is a “pay to play” town. They pay, they get favors. This allows the incumbent to buy votes – for $54 each.
  • Kiefaber was the favorite protest vote. Tom Kiefaber, the embattled former owner of the Senator Theater, who has been raising red flags about Baltimore Development Corporation (and interrupting City Council meetings) was the runner-up protest vote in the contest for City Council president with 5,390 votes. While Jack Young won in a landslide, the fact that a candidate like Kiefaber could get any traction at all shows just how deeply folks distrust – and ridicule – that body and its leadership.
  • The Sun missed a chance to create a better horse race. Jody Landers was right to complain that only 2 of the 5 members of the Sun Editorial board live in the city; there is also only one African American. If the Sun is going to pretend to have opinions relevant to city residents, those ideas should come from people that will have to live with the consequences. The editorial bent of the Sun’s coverage did not develop any kind of horse race between candidates, and frankly seemed to be pushing for the incumbent all along. In my opinion this was not just bad for Baltimore, but bad for business for the Sun. How many more papers could they have sold by developing a more compelling narrative?

Those of you that know me know that my support for Otis Rolley was born out of a belief that Baltimore is worth fighting for, and that Baltimore deserves better. I share that belief with Otis, and with Tom Loveland, Aaron Meisner, Brian LeGette, Terry Meyerhoff Rubenstein, and so many others who supported his campaign. I supported Otis because of my beliefs; my beliefs are not shaped because of my support of Otis.

This is an important distinction. Too often when folks think “politics” they think it’s about pitting candidates against each other, and insider interests and gaining financial advantage. But in this case, that has nothing to do with it. I simply believe that we are on the wrong track and that we can do better. I have nothing to gain in my support of Otis – unless you count living in a city that might have a shot at being strong again, and one where its leaders listen to citizens.

But we also learned something else. It’s tempting to think that real change can occur through online organizing and Twitter and Facebook and the coming-alive of the “new” Baltimore or the youth vote, or via SMS messages or what have you. And sure, those things will play a part in any election going forward.

But the most important lesson is that Baltimore is a city of tribes: poor, rich, black, white, Hispanic, digital, homeless, addicted, corrupt, idealistic, and blue-collar – to name only a few. Few of us ever break out of our own tribe. We surround ourselves with our own points-of-view and hear what we want to hear.

For Baltimore to grow, we need to break free of our tribes. We need to be occasionally uncomfortable. We need to do real public service, and build up the kind of roots in our community that ultimately allow meaningful change to occur.

As Otis said last night, this is just the beginning of a campaign to take back our city and stand up for Baltimore’s future. But that won’t be easy. Done right, it will make us uncomfortable, as we reach out across tribes. It will take serious commitment, and much more than “Likes” on Facebook.

In the end, it will require our full and unconditional love – of our fellow citizens, and our city.


#1 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 3:07 pm

I really want to know what is next for all of those who worked or rooted for Rolley.  Can some infrastructure be maintained post-election that brings together that group of people?  I see them as college educated professionals, semi-professionals, and creative types who make a living outside of the sphere of real estate development and government contracting.  Are there even enough of these people in this city to make a difference? And will they/we ever find a way to connect and ally with homegrown, Black Baltimore?  Rolley himself seemed perfectly situated to bridge that divide but obviously never broke out of his core support group.  Its pretty clear that unless someone can bridge that gap we are looking at Dixon II, Young or Pugh — the latter being nicely set up for the next election, with 25% of the vote with almost no campaigning that I saw.

#2 Dave Troy on 09.14.11 at 3:16 pm

This is a great point. In the next few weeks I suspect we’ll start to see the core Rolley supporters networking and identifying some important next steps. I think if we can start organizing now there’s a lot that can be done. Everyone appreciates that there were so many that stood up with Otis for Baltimore’s future.

#3 Justin Kownacki on 09.14.11 at 3:27 pm

I think SRB not having had a full term was the real issue here. It’s hard to have an opinion about someone who’s still cleaning up someone else’s backyard. Now we have a few years to see what she does when the property is actually in her name.

I do agree that Rolley, Landers and Pugh cannibalized the opposition vote.  One solid opponent might have created the us-vs-them narrative that this election couldn’t find. Granted, in theory, I actually prefer a competitive field because it saves us from an “A vs B” knee-jerk choice. But competition is hell on campaign finance, and the incumbent will always win against that patchwork approach.

Lastly, I’m partially to blame for last night’s low turnout, because I myself am registered independent. If nothing else, I’ve realized I need to switch to Democrat in order to actually have a voice in this city. (And yes, I do live in the city, where my residence was just carved out of District 1 and sent to District 13 by the difference of half a city block. If that kind of chicanery doesn’t get me out to the polls, nothing will.)

#4 Justin Kownacki on 09.14.11 at 3:27 pm

I think SRB not having had a full term was the real issue here. It’s hard to have an opinion about someone who’s still cleaning up someone else’s backyard. Now we have a few years to see what she does when the property is actually in her name.

I do agree that Rolley, Landers and Pugh cannibalized the opposition vote.  One solid opponent might have created the us-vs-them narrative that this election couldn’t find. Granted, in theory, I actually prefer a competitive field because it saves us from an “A vs B” knee-jerk choice. But competition is hell on campaign finance, and the incumbent will always win against that patchwork approach.

Lastly, I’m partially to blame for last night’s low turnout, because I myself am registered independent. If nothing else, I’ve realized I need to switch to Democrat in order to actually have a voice in this city. (And yes, I do live in the city, where my residence was just carved out of District 1 and sent to District 13 by the difference of half a city block. If that kind of chicanery doesn’t get me out to the polls, nothing will.)

#5 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 4:09 pm

Two small questions:

1. Who was Adam Meister supporting? Because when he ran up to me at my polling place (at which, it turns out, I could not vote) and handed me a sheaf of flyers, they all had SRB and Jack Young’s smiling full color photos on them.

2. Why Pugh behind Rolley and not Rolley behind Pugh? She had more support all along.

#6 Adam Meister on 09.14.11 at 4:10 pm

I plan to work with many of the cool people mentioned in this article. Online Baltimore will change real life Baltimore. This election is just the tip of the iceberg. Dave, I will email you soon…
Adam Meister

#7 Adam Meister on 09.14.11 at 4:24 pm

I am back. There are two pricing options 50 cents per entry or $1 per email found. We agree on the price structure before I start. Most people choose the 50 cents option. The 50 cents per entry cost covers all the time I spend working on emails that I end up not finding. The list would cost $867 under that scenario. I always find over 50% of the emails so if we did a $1 per email found deal then it could end up costing way over $1000. Under the “The 50 cents per entry” option if by chance I found less than 50% of the emails then I would just charge you $1 per email and it would be under $867. I can start right away. 

Nick Mosby’s stuff (along with many other candidate’s stuff at other locations) had SRB’s face on it. I was handing out a “sample ballot” of NIck’s that listed the mayor and Jack Young. Since everyone knew SRB would dominate, most people wanted her endorsement. The way things work suck (as Dave points out) but in Baltimore a blessing by the sure winner incumbent usually guarantees victory because many voters make their decision based on photos of the mayor and other mindless cues.

I voted for Otis.

Quite a few people at the polls were wondering why Otis did not appear to have a ticket of any sort. Surely there had to be candidates in certain districts that would have handed out stuff for him. 

The “Independent” thing sucks. Unfortunately it benefits the establishment to keep certain people independent. They don’t go around publicizing the need to switch. I think the Rolley campaign should have jumped on this issue and tried to “convert” as many young voters into democrats as possible. You were not the only one who arrived at the polling place who was turned away. I know a very vocal Rolley supporter (Dave knows him also) who barely made the deadline to switch parties.

#8 Adam Meister on 09.14.11 at 4:26 pm

 Hey look everyone you got to see pat of an email to a client of mine along with my comment! OOOPS! Dave can you remove my client email part! HA ha! 🙂

#9 Joseph Zuccaro on 09.14.11 at 5:30 pm

All excellent points.

Regarding the “online progressive community.”  As a new citizen in town, I’m online, but not young or progressive in the classic sense; however, I enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon because I respect Dave’s opinion and regard for Otis Rolley.  

Unfortunately, this community did not have the critical mass à la Obama in 2008 to carry Otis Rolley to victory in 2011.  The consequence is everyone will be still paying very high taxes with less voice in City Hall; The problem is not so much that elections are “broken;”  as Dave noted, there are no viable Republican or Independent candidates – the problem is the corrupted monopoly of a one-party city in a one-party state. 

Cities that have become Democratic Party strongholds have done so by creating a cycle of backscratching between not only the government and interest group such as developers, but also the public sector unions.  This backscratching drowns out the will of the moderate populace as developers get ridiculous tax breaks and unions get unsustainable benefits packages in turn for money and votes.  And other constituencies also receive “assistance” that does little to actually set them in a new, positive direction but serves to perpetuate their dependency on government largess.  All at the expense of young, visionary self-starters like those in this community, who eventually leave along with companies who don’t get generous tax breaks and can no longer compete with a location in the city because their capital is being drained for a laundry list of unproductive things not relative to their business or personal lives.  And this is not necessarily unique to a monopolistic political arena; I believe that in our national duopoly of political parties, both have had a hand in the diminishing of the middle class that drives our consumer economy.  But in Baltimore, as I said before, it’s a political monopoly.  

A Republican or Independent will not stand a chance in this or any major city as long as:  1. There lacks transparency in government which levels the playing field so that constituents standing outside of the entrenched backscratching system can be part of the dialogue of city planning and decision making;  2.  People realize that not “all” Republicans and Independents”want” people to get evicted, starve and fall through the cracks, like some videos circulating the web seem to purport – I know that may be asking a lot of some people! 😉 ; and 3.  A crisis of such proportion arises that even the entrenched see that they have more to lose sticking with the status quo.

As Dave and Otis say, we need to make ourselves “uncomfortable, as we reach out across tribes.”  The risk is we make those in other tribes uncomfortable, resulting in our being shunned because the entrenched backscratching system is so darn powerful.

But we need to work together and figure out not only what we expect from our local government, but by reaching out to other tribes, how we can work together, at first uncomfortably, but eventually comfortably, outside the intrusion and bureaucracy of government – voluntarily, trustingly, and openmindedly, to get things done.

I for one have faith in the “online progressive community” to continue channeling its energy in such a fashion.




#10 Ethan Giffin on 09.14.11 at 5:50 pm

Although our opinions vary on many things, your post is dead on.  As a registered Republican, property owner and business owner I had no voice in which to affect the last two mayoral or states attorney elections.  This is completely wrong.  I also am completely shocked about the previous election with Keiffer as well as currently with Otis from the amount of signs and buzz behind both candidates, yet there numbers were so small. 

I start to question, are things really as David Simon portrayed on The Wire (walk around cash, kowtowing to the black pastors), or are the trendier, wealthier communities fast to put up signs but slow to hit the polls.

Another problem with this race was that everyone was just too damn nice.  Whoever is going to step up to the plate needs to act like a winner and go for the win.  I think Otis really could have pushed harder to dig up more dirt and corruption. As history will show, overly nice guys never finish first and a lack of dirt gets people disinterested.

If there is anything I could do petition wise in terms of changing the primaries, let me know.  I know many people will to push for this type of change if it can legally happen.

#11 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 6:32 pm

Registering Republican is a choice you made and a choice you can change. It’s not set in stone. No one forced you to give up your voice in city elections. You chose to register Republican. That’s a fine choice to make, but let’s not complain about it or pretend the system is preventing you from having a voice. 

Above all, I register democrat because I want to have a voice in this city. 

#12 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 6:34 pm

I completely agree with point 2. Pugh had double the votes of Otis. 

#13 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 6:40 pm

I don’t fully understand the surprise that Otis wasn’t elected mayor. Among other slips in logic, the man suggested we have a bullet tax and expected people to take him seriously. I really like Otis and wanted his energy and vision in City Hall, but it’s hard to expect him to attract a large following if he thinks a bullet tax is a good idea.

#14 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 6:44 pm

Re: Your point 2, that is valid, but I strongly prefer Otis over Catherine Pugh. One scenario we discussed back in February was the notion of Pugh endorsing Otis, and Pugh working in Annapolis on advancing a shared agenda. This would have been a powerful combination and would have set her up in a similar position to Pete Rawlings.

If Catherine Pugh had been out campaigning for Otis, that would have been very helpful. Also, if the field had been just two candidates, major donors would have contributed much more to Otis, because they would want to hedge their bets.

That said, if it had come down to it, I probably would have supported a Pugh candidacy — if and only if it was one that was crafted as a coalition of concerned challengers. Otherwise, I fear it’s just more of the same.

#15 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 6:46 pm

I can tell you that there was no effort spared to discover dirt or to publicize it. One thing I can tell you about the current Mayor is that she is a good player of the game.

Her dirty laundry is all out on the line, and it’s all legal — at least that which has been discovered so far. She’s likely smart enough to keep it that way, too.

#16 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 8:04 pm

All of these are very valid points, and I have to agree that the presence of multiple democratic candidates cannibalized the vote.  I have to admit that I am somewhat disappointed by how many times I have seen multiple candidates in a race diffuse the vote and result in a victory for the incumbent candidate whereas one opposing candidate would have successfully defeated the incumbent.  

I was actually a bit amazed at the 25% of the vote Pugh garnered.  Perhaps this slightly reinforces the power of women voters that was much ballyhooed when Dixon, SRB, and Pratt all ran on a single ticket?  The one thing, however, that I fail to understand is why hasn’t a Democratic candidate leveraged the weakness of the Republican Party in Baltimore and run as a Republican if but for a chance to face the incumbent in a General Election that actually means something?  The one thing that I was considering this morning in hearing the post-election analysis is why can’t Baltimore have a politician capable of pulling off what Michael Bloomberg did in New York City?  Run as a Republican in a majority Democratic city, win election as such, then change party affiliation and still win re-election.  I think Bloomberg’s success is partly due to the caliber and financial wherewithal of the candidate, but, in some sense, Bloomberg challenged the political party status quo in doing so.  

#17 Ethan Giffin on 09.14.11 at 8:55 pm

Actually Scott, as an American it is my right to complain… and I shouldn’t have to change my national political affiliation to have a local impact.  I have long held the opinion the local politics is all about the person and not the party.  Single party primaries do favors to no one in that regard.

#18 Anonymous on 09.14.11 at 9:32 pm

Woah. I never said you didn’t have a right to complain. I said you shouldn’t be. Key, key difference. 

I happen to agree: local politics are about the person not the party. 

If you don’t want to change your affiliation for the principal of the matter, that’s fine. But, nonetheless, that’s a choice your making.  Further, by choosing not to participate, you’re choosing not to vote for people to change the law. You have the power to affect change. You’re choosing not to use that power.

#19 Zy on 09.14.11 at 11:38 pm

Great, great point. I look forward to continuing to work with the many wonderful people that I met working on Otis’ campaign. It was truly a diverse coalition of residents sincere in wanting to see a new and different reality for Baltimore. Though our outcome was not perfect, our excitement is just beginning and will continue to mold over the next few weeks. We must continue to stay connected and share ideas to bring our many shared talents together to rid our city of the pervasive and cancerous machine that prevents meaningful progress.

#20 JR21218 on 09.15.11 at 2:47 am

Dave, I found myself frustrated with most of your bullet points, but the commentary that followed is insightful and optimistic. SRB ran a strong campaign; her 52% is not only a majority (which means a runoff would not have been necessary in an open election), but it is absolutely a mandate. We’ve had presidents elected on smaller margins of “victory” lead us into war and national crisis, so Tuesday’s election shouldn’t be cause for panic.
I didn’t anticipate Pugh’s strong performance, but she clearly found and motivated a larger base than did Otis (who got my vote, by the way). Tweets don’t win elections, especially when the “online progressive community” doesn’t register Democratic. And while I also can’t explain the victories by Stokes and Welch, perhaps a spirited, focused write-in campaign can still pull off a win in the general.
I’m glad you closed your post by talking about the need for all of Baltimore’s “tribes” to get out of their comfort zones and work toward common goals. I’d like to see Otis, Odette, Abigail and others continue to push or pull the city along. But I definitely want to see SRB lead this city and be effective. She’ll have to be held accountable, but she’ll also need support over the next four years. I hope she succeeds.

#21 wally on 09.15.11 at 8:24 pm

It almost seems like there needs to be a primary for the primary so that the challenger to the incumbent can be chosen.  Have multiple challengers just dilutes the protest votes. and favors the incumbent.  I voted for Otis and liked him better than other challengers but in the race for head of city council I admittedly knew nothing of the candidates so I just voted against the incumbent.  But there were about 5 candidates so I wonder how many people did the same thing only to see their vote diluted by all voting for different ones (not that it would have mattered in either case).  The crazy thing is if we have a well connected tech community and voter turnout is going to be this low this could be an opportunity to actually get some people elected.  If people are just voting for name recognition then voter apathy might be the best chance of actually enacting change.

The thing that boggles the mind is in a city with so many long term problems and corruption incumbency is somehow an advantage.  I understand the marketing aspects of name recognition but given the problems we have I can’t understand why people would not just want something new.

#22 9d resident on 09.15.11 at 11:17 pm

Mr Troy
“These were both split-field races against “name brand” incumbents that also demonstrated the persistent racial divides in Baltimore.”
your assement of the 9th district race is way off. Both white candidates had support in the heart of pistol pete country(poplar grove &edmonson)you also need to do some math. 4th,5th went black candidates.2,3,4 places exceede petes vote total.meister can explain it to you. at least your not as delusional as giordano and his teach for america conspiracy

#23 Sepideh Miller on 09.28.11 at 2:22 pm

I was really impressed by Catherine Pugh when I heard her speak on NPR.  While campaigns tend to be run in generalities, she had specific accomplishments in organization and fund raising that she referenced.

I voted for Rolley, but a strong online base is not indicative of an actual strong base.  (See how popular the Ron Paul people are online.) After his loss, I was disappointed to see someone say something to the effect of “You win church people and old people” as if a candidate with a progressive agenda that includes support for technological innovation should turn his/her back on a certain constituency that is very powerful in the city.  This is strategically unsound.  Like Rollings-Blake pointed out in her victory speech, we do not need to be having turf wars among the neighborhoods in the city.  We need to have a larger identity as a city that extends beyond our own neighborhoods.

I would really like to see open primaries happen in Baltimore.  I was an independent in Colorado and enjoyed the open primaries, and I was disappointed that it was meaningless to be an independent in Maryland.  I changed my affiliation to Democratic so I could have a voice in local politics. 

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#25 SEScotty on 11.08.11 at 1:18 am

Troy hit the nail on the head when it said that Baltimore is a city of “tribes.”  And the problem is, that for about 90% of the tribes … the city elections just don’t matter.  There is a small, enthusiastic politico base (my guess is most of y’all are in Hampden and Federal Hill) but for the rest of us, it just doesn’t matter.  I’m a longtime resident of SE Baltimore — land of Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.  Our politics is focused on the state level, not the local level.  When we have a problem we go to the corner bar (those who live around here know which one) to chat up our state representative … most of us don’t even know who our city councilman is.  Our state folks get things done for us, so that’s where our political focus is.  And on the other side of the world is the other side of town where I own a retail shop — SW Baltimore.  The Mayor and local representatives are useless to the people who live and work around my shop; they are far more concerned with day to day survival.  Matters not to anyone in that neighborhood whether Rawlings-Blake, Otis, or Mayor McCheese is elected because none will do anything significant to tear down the abandoned houses, chase the drug dealers off the corners, or help the desperate addicts to get treatment.  Our focus here in SW is to deal very personally with the city employees who can make a difference — getting that bad cop who take kickbacks from the dealers out of our neighborhood and a better cop on the beat; getting city hall to send out a housing inspector who will enforce the codes and not just write revenue-generating tickets on struggling homeowners for “tall grass”; berating the sanitation department supervisor to get that lazy ‘roving/alternate’ crew to actually pick up trash on Thursdays instead of parking their truck in front of a bar and having a few free beers.   Will Otis or Rawlings-Blake or any other mayor come here and roll up his/her sleeves and help improve the basic, day-to-day city services just a BIT to help us feel more like humans and less like stray dogs?  Nah.  We learned way back with Schmoke that what we’ll get is some huge boondoggle of a “redevelopment” scheme (hello Sandtown!) that tosses millions of dollars to favored contractors to tear down a distressed neighborhood, displace whatever residents are still holding out for improvement, overspend on a bunch of new housing and then walk away … and let the shiny new houses fall apart and become decrepit and then the cycle repeats itself.   I take pride in always exercising my right to vote but I know that in city elections, it’s an exercise in futility.  Whoever is the mayor and whoever is in the city council won’t do jack for either the “upscale” neighborhood where I work (except change the freakin’ direction of the parallel parking stripes, what’s up with that?), or the “downtrodden” neighborhood where I work.  Call me when you get someone who will actually, positively, give a darn about those neighborhoods that aren’t white majority yuppie enclaves.  Call me when we get a candidate who will focus on the little things that make or break the quality of life in the city.  Not bringing ESPN Zone to the Power Plant.  Not a new grand housing scheme in Washington Heights.  But getting the trash collected on time, and fixing broken street lights.