Friday, February 6, 2009

February 3, 2009

The $20 dollar man vs the $20 billion dollar man

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Rafael Martinez-Alequin, the feisty journalist who seemed to have gotten under Mayor Bloomberg's skin for his incessant (and annoying) questions about issues that he says affect the poor and working class folk of this City, is back at City Hall. His shiny new 2009 NYPD press credential hanging around his neck. The reporter and editor of New York City Free Press made a federal case out of the fact that his credentials were not renewed or as he says, "unfairly revoked," in 2007 by the agency that doles them out, the NYPD.

"I'm glad to have the credentials back," gushes the Puerto Rico-born scribe, "but the case is still going forward, it's now in Federal Court." According to Martinez-Alequin, the lawsuit asks the fundamental question: why is the NYPD the ones who determine who is a journalist or not?

But just because the 75-year old journalist for yourfreepress is back in the Blue Room, the corner room in City Hall where the Mayor holds news conferences, doesn't mean that Bloomberg will talk to him.

"I raise my hand, but he (Bloomberg) won't take my questions," says Martinez-Alequin. "I won't shout out the question because I have respect for the Office of the Mayor, not necessarily its current occupant." Besides," he asks, "what's a $20 billion dollar man afraid of a $20 dollar man?"

Two other bloggers, Ralph E. Smith, a reporter and publisher for GuardianChronicle.com and David Wallis, editor of Featurewell.com also got their credentials renewed. Norman Siegel is the attorney on the case.

Martinez-Alequin, who is going to turn 76 in the last day of March, is unstoppable in his quest he says to get answers for the little people of this City.

"Many of the denizens of the press are beholden to the Mayor and their editors," he says. "They are afraid to ask questions that might get the Mayor angry.Then they won't get scoops."

Asked what question he'd d ask Mayor Bloomberg if he's called on, Martinez-Alequin offers dryly: "why is he always on the side of the rich, powerful and the corporations and not on the side if the poor and working class?"

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