A lot of cool things can be found in the city’s campaign finance reports:
For example, Councilman Simcha Felder spends a lot of money on cellphones and prefers to leave his car in parking garages.
Councilman Vince Gentile spends a good portion of money from his campaign on donations to other people’s campaigns.
And we all know that when Borough President Markowitz wants to bestow gifts on his re-election team, he heads straight for Jacques Torres chocolates in DUMBO.
So when the last batch of filings were posted by the Campaign Finance Board, The Politicrasher scoured them like they were charred pans after a beefsteak fundraiser.
And that’s where we discovered that Councilman Bill DeBlasio has turned his local diner into a campaign office.
That’s right — the man who wants to be your next Public Advocate spent most of December in a booth at the Purity Diner on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, about five blocks from his house.
Over an amazing 22-day period, DeBlasio had nine “meetings” at the diner, including two on Dec. 9 and three (all three meals?) on Dec. 15.
Could this guy love diners as much as The Politicrasher? Or was he just a cheap campaign hack like The Politicrasher?
Or was it both?
I called DeBlasio and he suggested we talk about it … at the diner.
I got there first to case out the joint and grill the waitress, Meredith, about whether she knew DeBlasio. She couldn’t place the name, but when he entered — all 6-foot-20 of him — she recognized him.
I played it safe with a bacon burger, and DeBlasio ordered a BLT with an egg cream with a voice that sounded as if it was suffering from deja-vu — as, indeed, it was.
I asked about the virtually unprecedented streak back in December, which peaked in a nine meal-in-six day stretch. The kid’s gotta be on the juice, I concluded.
“I just like the service, the Greek salad and the prices,” he said.
He also explained that the Purity Diner was a logical, practical meeting place for a guy who quickly shifted from his campaign for borough president to public advocate after the term limits debacle.
“We needed to set up a finance team and a campaign team quickly, and everyone lives in or near Park Slope,” he said. “It’s uncanny, but this diner is the epicenter.
“Plus, my campaign treasurer and my [finance] compliance person love that I come to the diner instead of Lutece,” he added. (Point of information: There are no charges at Lutece by any candidate going back as far as the city has been keeping records — though Herman Badillo once dropped $2,100 at Le Cirque).
Given that DeBlasio comes to this diner several times a week, I expected that a waitress would silently bring over his “usual” (I was picturing a Diet Coke with a red, white and blue cocktail umbrella) as he slid into his booth.But no. DeBlasio clearly likes his power lunch with the power on the side.
“We’re very low-key,” he said. “We have our meetings and don’t make a big fuss.”
We chatted a bit more about the issues of the day — David Walentas’s Dock Street project, “Slumdog Millionaire,” rice pudding and his inability to hit to the opposite field in his Saturday softball league — and finally the check came.
We reached for it together. It was gut-check time.
If I bought, I’d be on the high ground as a journalist, but also betray my heartfelt belief that a newspaper reporter should never pay for a meal.
But if he bought, my little tete-a-tete would show up on his next campaign finance report, giving fodder for those guys at the Times who are always trying to link me to some scandal.
In the end, we split it. Politics is one messy business.