Councilwoman Castigates NY1′s Latino Debate as ‘Farce’

The candidates on stage at the debate. (Photo: NY1)

The candidates on stage at the debate. (Photo: NY1)

One City Council member was not pleased with a televised mayoral debate held on Wednesday, but her ire was reserved for the questioned asked, not the answers given.

In a letter obtained by Politicker, Councilwoman Annabel Palma slammed NY1, NY1 Noticias and the Latino Leadership Institute, who hosted the debate focused on Latino issues. Specifically, Ms. Palma accused the organizations of turning the debate from “substance” into “farce.”

“Last night’s Democratic mayoral debate hosted by NY1 Noticias and the Latino Leadership Institute should have been an opportunity for voters to learn about where the candidates stand on important issues,” Ms. Palma wrote in the letter, which can be viewed below. “But for me and other members of the Latino community, the debate turned from substance to farce with the lightning round of questions on Goya products, cuchifritos and the like.”

Ms. Palma was referring to a portion of the debate that included lighter topics like whether the candidates had eaten cuchifritos–a fried Puerto Rican cuisine–or if they thought Mariano Rivera, a Panamanian relief pitcher, was the greatest New York Yankee of all time. While none of the Democratic candidates objected to the line of questioning, Ms. Palma took offense.

When reached for a response, NY1 General Manager Steve Paulus said he was “perplexed” while noting that–outside of the “Lightning Round”–they asked questions on a lot of the topics that Ms. Palma stressed in the letter.

“I know the councilwoman was at the debate but I don’t understand what she’s basically saying in the letter, because all of the issues that she said we did not cover were covered,” Mr. Paulus told Politicker, adding that the debate “got a lot of recognition and a lot of compliments from Latino organizations” for devoting so much coverage to issues facing the Hispanic community.

Mr. Paulus further said the quick-fire questions were simply “a tiny portion of the debate” intended “to enlighten our viewers to the personalities of our candidates.”

Update (2:25 p.m.): It’s worth noting that Ms. Palma has a candidate in the mayor’s race. She announced her endorsement for Council Speaker Christine Quinn Friday afternoon.

Additional reporting by Colin Campbell.

View the full letter below: