By Patty Booth O’Neill
On Tuesday night I attended Avery Grant’s rally at his campaign headquarters, located in the original Inkwell building in West End. I was greeted out front by Joe Ferraina. We haven’t seen each other for so long. We hugged, we embraced, drawn together by a mutual magnetism. I threw up a little in my mouth.
“What are you doing here now? The rally is over. Everyone has gone home, you missed them,” Joe said. “There were over 200 people here.” There were still a lot of people milling around, eating pizza.
I told him I came to take a picture of Avery and asked Theresa Falcone, Avery’s campaign manager, if she would ask Avery to come outside for a photo.
“So why are you here now? The event is over,” Ferraina repeated. “It’s over, see? Everyone’s leaving.” He couldn’t make his point any clearer. So I tried to be clear also, in case he didn’t understand me the first time.
“Um, I’m here to take a picture of Avery, Joe.” I spoke slowly. “I can’t take it inside because it is very dark in there. The lighting is very good out here. Okay, Joe? I’m here to take a picture of Avery.”
“So why are you here now? You don’t cover anything Avery does. You don’t give him any press.”
And that irked me. Pissed me off even, so I said, “I was at Avery’s kickoff at the Portuguese Club. I didn’t see you there, so don’t tell me I don’t go to his events. Where were you if it’s so important?”
I turned to David Pizzo, who was standing next to Ferraina. “Was I there Dave?”
“Yep, you were there.”
“So don’t tell me I don’t go to Avery’s events.” I was fully aware Joe was on vacation at the time.
“Oh, you know, I stay in the background,” said Ferraina. “I don’t want people to know I’m around. They talk, you know. Everybody talks.”
“And we don’t get any press, right, Mr. Ferraina? Nobody gives us any press, right?”
“No, no,” Ferraina waved Pizzo off. “We get great press. They’re doing a great job.”
After taking a photo I received parting words from Ferraina, arms waving in the air. “We’re going to win this election, despite the lack of press we get.”
At that point the rhetoric didn’t irk me anymore. It made me feel sad. Sad that this is what Avery Grant has had to listen to since the day he decided to run for mayor. I like Avery. He does a lot for the community. I think he would be a lot better off in his campaign without this negativity and paranoia fed into his ear.
The Link sponsors a debate whenever there’s a major election in the area. This election was no exception, and after contacting all the candidates, we advertised the day and location for May 6. A rumor went around that candidates agreed to come, but weren’t going to show up.
“Mr. Grant would never do that,” I said. “He would tell me. He has too much integrity.”
About a week later, Avery came into my office to tell me that he was pulling out of the debate at the insistence of his advisors. They were afraid of bad press he would receive, he said.
And that’s what made me sad. That’s the kind of misadvice being fed to any candidate who would listen. Paranoia and negativity like a cancer grows.
So according to Ferraina, if Avery wins it will be in spite of the lack of press he has received. If Avery loses it can be blamed on the lack of press. What else would Ferraina say? It couldn’t be because of a lack of effort on his part. He supports Avery all the way. Oh, that’s right, he wasn’t at his kickoff party.
But Ferraina did do a good job fundraising for Avery, donating a lot of his own money. And for that I thank you, Joe. You paid for a lot of his advertising in The Link.
When Ferraina reads this he will strut around saying, “See, I told you so, see what they wrote, You should listen to me, I was right all along.”
No, you weren’t. No one should listen to you.
My advice to you, Joe, if you want to run for Mayor do so. Stop living vicariously through other people. You’ve been saying you were going to run for years, and now you have four to prepare. But like the immortal words of the late Emmit Boyle (owner of Boyle’s Tavern in Monmouth Beach) “You’re like the handle on a pisspot. Always around, but never in it.”