On Tuesday November 7th New York City will be electing a chief executive. Offering an opinion that no functional adult could possibly be interested in, I’m endorsing Robert Liebowitz for the position. In the interest of full disclosure I must acknowledge that Bob has been a friend of mine for nearly thirty years. Until last March I had never heard him express any interest in running for public office. He first broached this subject with me while we were having dinner, at which time he not only announced his Quixotic intentions but invited me along as deputy. Balancing the obvious “Walter Mitty” quality of this idea with the expanded possibilities of a post 11/8/16 universe, I said yes. Anticipating the fun of doing something that has no chance of happening held a singular appeal. At the (then) age of fifty-three it struck me as a reasonable alternative to day- dreaming about starting at third base for the Mets. Over the next few months something remarkable happened. Bob tried to get elected. Speaking with him every other day, meeting for dinner twice a month I had a chance to remember a few things about him and learn a few things about me.
Writing this blog was first suggested to me by Eric Landro, a younger co-worker of mine who I can only assume was experiencing wind-bag fatigue secondary to any number of rambling conversations we had engaged in during our years working together. He was kind enough to phrase this in terms that were flattering to me and generous enough to offer any technical support I might need. His suggestion was intriguing but the thought of doing this was also intimidating. I proceeded. Slowly.
Seeing Bob in action put a legitimate fire under me. For as long as I have known him Robert Liebowitz has done things. In college his love of theater led to him founding the None of the Above reparatory company; he’s still staging the plays that he writes. In addition he’s written two books and is finishing a third as I sit here. Tired of sitting in a cab twelve hours a day he applied at the post office and retired a postmaster last year. And then he ran for mayor. Like many of the items on his curriculum vitae his quest for the position was born of a deep seated need to constructively articulate his dissatisfaction with some element of the world around him. Most of us bitch about something. Not nearly enough of us get off the couch and take action. Being involved, however peripherally, made it impossible not to lean on myself and to stop finding reasons not to write.
Bob told me he first thought running for mayor when he read an article detailing the city council deciding spend $27,000,0000 changing street sign lettering from upper to lower case. With that as a catalyst he eventually decided he as much reason or right as anyone to want to be mayor. He thought the outer boroughs too easily ignored and the tangible trappings of authority to much of a focus for most candidates. He wanted to live, as the mayor, in a different place in the city every month. He would rent out Gracie mansion for an obscene amount and have every penny end up in the city coffers. In pursuing this Grail he sought to run on the Libertarian party line. They chose someone else. Their loss. It doesn’t have to be yours, New York. Unflinchingly honest, receptive to alternative perspective, absent of ulterior motive Robert Liebowitz is still ready to serve the city he loves and the people who live there. When it comes time to pull the lever just write his name in instead. You could do a lot worse, and frequently have.