Questions for Tom Allon, mayoral candidate and CEO of Manhattan Media
Tom Allon, the CEO of Manhattan Media, which publishes papers such as City Hall, The Capitol and The West Side Spirit, has declared his candidacy for mayor. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Janet, and their three teenagers.
What would you most like to see changed or accomplished in New York City? I want New York's kids to have the optimism that I had as a kid growing up here. Part of that is building 21st-Century facilities for its schools so kids can graduate into careers, not just jobs. There is so much talk about teachers, but the actual physical plants are mediocre at best, stuck in a 1950s model. Some have no gyms, and problems like PCBs. I have a revenue neutral idea on how to do that, too: Sell the air rights over the schools to developers in exchange for them building better schools. It's a very practical solution that hasn't been explored.
Who would be your ideal schools chancellor? I would have to do a broad search, but a woman on the West Coast, Linda Darling-Hammond (the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford University), would be perfect. There's also Jennifer Raab, the president of Hunter College — she might be a potentially better choice because she has a track record in NYC. Geoffrey Canada (the president and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone) would be a good choice too.
Why are media moguls such as Mayor Bloomberg and yourself so drawn to the mayor's office? He's a global mogul! I'm a media mongrel. Scratch that — I'm a community media builder. Your comparison is cheese and chalk, to borrow a British phrase. I was a teacher in the public school system for two years! I'm one of the 99%, not the 1%.
What do you know about New York that no one else does? The machinations of city politics and the interplay of special interests and elected leaders. I'm a firm believer in term limits because the more turnover you have in government, the less power special interests have over elected officials. Everything from the carriage horse industry to developers and the financial sector — they just supply all this money that washes around government.
How can voters be sure power won't corrupt you? I went to religious (yeshiva) school as a kid. The fear of God and Jewish guilt is a very potent combination.