Over the weekend, Kerpen posted an entry to his blog, www.theunpolitician.blogspot.com, picking up on an article in The Daily News that detailed the large amounts of money that the five borough presidents have at their disposal to spend. Specifically, Kerpen set his sights on his potential opponent, most notably on the money that is being spent to upgrade Queens Borough Hall.
Before we get to Kerpen’s issue, let us be the first to say that Queens Borough Hall has been in need of an upgrade for quite some time. If Brooklyn Borough Hall – with its stunning entrance overlooking Cadman Plaza, state-of-the-art conference rooms, and grand ballroom for hosting events – is a mansion, then Queens Borough Hall - with its leaking window air conditioners, conference room featuring decades-old tile and cracked wooden tables, and an entrance that feels like the worst of New York City’s public schools, flanked by banished smokers and aging metal detectors as official greeters - is indeed like governing from a rundown trailer.
Anyone with any pride in Queens would agree that the borough deserves better than what Borough Hall currently has to offer. (On a side note, while saving one last Redbird subway car from the 7 line was a noble idea, putting it out in front of Borough Hall only adds to the trailer-like feel. What trailer is complete without a car up on blocks sitting in the front yard?)
We’re not sure if Kerpen agrees that Borough Hall deserves a makeover, but what he isn’t on board with is some of the more lavish aspects of the transformation, including $5,000 on drapes for Marshall’s office and another $5,000 for a set of four chairs. Don’t even get him started on the $20 million glass atrium project for the rear of Borough Hall, although that project is currently on hold. All told, without the atrium, the Borough Hall renovation is costing a little over $100,000 – too much in Kerpen’s (face)book.
Whether or not that is an unreasonable amount to add some flourish to a building the size of Borough Hall is not for us to say, budgets are big nasty beasts, and we don’t purport to understand the first bit of them. But we guess it is for Kerpen to say, since he does have designs on a post that he characterizes as “a position filled with ribbon-cutting, proclamation signing, and, of course, a chauffeur that escorts the BP around like royalty.”
(It’s true, we’ve seen the chauffeur!)
Criticizing your political opponent is nothing new, but Kerpen is trying to do it in a new way. The political upstart (his candidacy is sure to cause more than a few issues within the Queens Democratic Party should his exploratory committee find in its “explorations” that he should seek the post) is utilizing social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter extensively to get the word out about his campaign.
While announcing the formation of the committee, Kerpen asked the 50 or so people in attendance to take out their cell phones and text his website address to one of their friends, kind of like an electronic chain letter that will bring good luck, albeit really only to Dave Kerpen, presumably.
It will be an interesting race, especially if Kerpen can mobilize a younger base that feels alienated from typical Democratic machine-style party politics in the borough.
All we can say is: @dkerpen r u 4 real? WOW! keep us posted.