Mark Read of The Other 98% explains how Wednesday night's public shaming at the swanky David H. Koch Theater was executed.
"Electoral politics in New York seems to be mostly boomers and older people. We think backing Billy sends the right message to young people."By the end of July, Talen had collected the 7,500 signatures required to be included on the September 15th primary ballot, and had doubled that number by the time the August filing deadline rolled around. Whether those numbers will mean anything at the polls is another issue altogether, but no one on Talen's team expects him to beat Bloomberg. Still, after the election on November 3, it will be clear if a serious politician lingers beneath the priest's habit, and whether his nascent constituency will stick by him without another four years of Bloomberg looming on the horizon."The reason we said yes to a quixotic campaign against a $100-million candidate was to introduce new ideas into a political system that's become conservative," explains Talen. "The mainstream parties here are like Coke and Pepsi; McDonald's and Burger King."So Talen represents an alternative. "We're activists, and as activists you have to broaden your idea of success to include the fight itself," says Savitri D., Talen's wife and the director of the Church. "In a city where eight million people are rolling over for a guy who said he was going to spend one hundred million dollars of his own money on the campaign, just putting up a fight is a success in itself." (So far, Bloomberg has spent $37 million on this campaign, and $150 million combined on his previous two. Thompson has spent just $2.6 million in the same period. Savitri says Talen has raised between $60,000 and $70,000.)Talen's platform is about supporting community-based growth after a decade of breakneck residential and commercial development. Bloomberg has rezoned 16 percent of the city since taking office, paving the way for the chain stores, high-rise condos, and gleaming office towers that line the sidewalks. Talen, meanwhile, wants to keep the city's parks and plazas public; support small businesses with commercial lease protection and retail zoning reforms; and would like to green the city from the bottom-up with neighborhood-based initiatives. (Talen argues that Bloomberg's much-heralded environmental reforms focused disproportionately on corporate incentives, rather than community programs.)Beyond the anti-Bloomberg rhetoric, a utopian vision emerges. Talen would like to see a socio-economically and ethnically integrated city where rich and poor mingle in parks, greet their local beat-cop by name, and plant community gardens together. The vision is at times vague and unrealistic, but it's clearly tapping into something some New Yorkers have been missing. Talen has recruited more than 850 volunteers-many of them young people who typically steer clear of municipal elections.Take David Schwab, a 23-year-old who volunteered for Talen's campaign as an online organizer while spending the summer in Oslo and St. Petersburg. Schwab also convinced his boss at the website Greenchange.org to endorse Talen's mayoral bid because, as Schwab puts it, Bloomberg's environmental record shows that he is not as Green as he claims to be. "Bloomberg disregards democracy and social justices," Schwab says, "which are important parts of being green."