In Debate For NY Governor, Freedom Party's Barron Shines

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[Election 2010]

In a debate that involved seven candidates for New York's governorship tonight Charles Barron, leader of the Freedom Party had a strong showing and put Andrew Cuomo, the presumptive leader on the defense, several times pointing out that Cuomo did not prosecute major campaign donors.

Yet Cuomo, may have benefitted the most as a current front runner; the format of the debate allowed him to dodge tough questions, including Barron's accusations and other charges about secretive donations to his campaign war chest.

Barron seemed to set the pace at the debate, returning repeatedly on themes that affect Blacks and Latinos; and arguing that rather than focusing on cutting services, New York's wealthy needed to pay more in taxes.

Barron began by noting to the moderators that an African American, Latino and native American should have also been one of the moderators.

While most of the candidates were comfortable with the questions, Jimmy McMillan, who heads the Rent Is Too Damn High, seemed to be clueless and never substantively answered any of the questions posed by the moderators. Every issue --whether it was about education or property taxes-- was reduced to a simple prescription: he would lower rents for individuals and businesses.

In his closing remarks Carl Paladino, the volatile candidate from Buffalo said he would cut taxes across the board by 10% and cut government by 20%. He said: "Tell me if that is crazy." Not very tactful considering that many observers do believe he's crazy.

One of the most important questions of the evening was what specific cuts each candidate would make in order to deal with New York State's more than $8 billion deficit. Paladino was one of the first responders and focused on the very high spending on Medicaid and education. Cuomo similarly focused on Medicaid and education but added that he would also cut down the multiple layers of government and every level throughout New York State.

New York City Councilmember Barron, who heads the Freedom Party, flipped the question about cutting government by saying he would actually increase revenue through progressive taxation that would yield more money from the state's very wealthy, including multi-millionaires. "If you do taxation in a progressive way there will be money.." he said.

He warned that Cuomo and Paladino would both make massive cuts that would affect state as well as unionized employees. "Cuomo is going to be the king of layoffs," Barron said.

Warren Redlich, the Libertarian candidate took a solid swipe at Cuomo, noting that a parking garage owner in New York had donated $55,000 to Cuomo. He wondered how Cuomo can claim to be transparent and a candidate who battled corruption without disclosing the source of the money which came through an LLC. Cuomo never responded to the accusation.

Other candidates tonight included Howie Hawkins, of the Green party; and Kristin Davis, a former madam who leads the Anti-Prohibition party.

Paladino seemed nervous and kept glancing to notes on his right side. At one point, he reverted to his crude style, when discussing his proposed cut he said he would "dismember the New York state..." but was cut off as his time had expired.

Both Cuomo and Paladino said taxes in New York were too high and driving businesses and jobs away from the state. Paladino said as many as 300,000 jobs had been lost.
McMillan, of the Rent Is Too Damn High party kept saying "nothing works" and that things would get better. "It's like a cancer; it will heal itself," he said, inexplicably. He did get some laughs every time when he closed with his "rent is too damn high" mantra.

Davis, of the Anti-Prohibition party claimed the state could raise a total of $3.5 billion by legalizing casino gambling and marijuana sales.

Redlich, the Libertarian, said too many state employees are overpaid and pointed to the President of the New York Public Library system whom he said earns $689,000 in salary. He said he would impose a $100,000 cap on state employees' salary.

Hawkins, of the Green party, also echoed Barron's remarks, saying, "We need progressive tax reform." He also called for a State Bank that would finance small businesses and called for an entity that would create jobs and hire the jobless rather than letting people collect unemployment checks.

On education Paladino called for cuts. Cuomo said the state was number one in spending on education while number 40 in performance. He called for "experimentation" including with more charter schools and programs similar to the Obama Administrations Race to the Top which awards millions of dollars to states that innovate and add more charter schools.

Barron denounced mayoral control of education and called for a curriculum that would embrace Black history--he said schools had been turned into "testing mills."

All the candidates attacked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) with Barron saying he would abolish it. Paladino said he would bring the agency under the control of the governor’s office for five years, reform it, and audit its books.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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