The heat continues as the mayor remains adamant about avoiding the debate scheduled to be held Thursday at the Apollo Theater. NY One, as the debate's sponsor, has naturally taken the lead here. Yesterday it was reporting that three good government groups had joined in the debate chorus.

The funniest comment we heard was the Bloomberg campaign remark that it would rather have the mayor debate closer to the actual election when "more people are paying attention." So the Bloomberg folks are now couching naked self-interest as public spiritedness. In the same vein we would suggest that Mike's minions immediately cease and desist all advertising until the last week of the campaign when, "more people are paying attention." No? We didn't think so.

As for all of those sage commentators who don't see the debate issue as a big deal – after all didn't the "progressive" Mark Green agree to only two debates? – let us reiterate the key point. When you’re producing $100 million of canned messages and the mainstream media is relatively supine it is of some importance to actually "See Mike Run."

The other piece of debate news that's important to emphasize is the attempt by the Bloombergers to jettison Tom Ognibene from the Thursday affair. Apparently Mike is not only content to knock the real Republican off of the November ballot but is eager to squelch any dissonance from the right that will expose his faux Republican credentials.

The best take on this is Gerson Borrero's most recent column in El Diario. Gerson rightfully accuses "Miguelito" of cowardice.

Update: According to NY1, Floyd Flake remarked that Bloomberg may still change his mind about participating in Thursday's Harlem Debate. We'll see if the various pressures have been enough to convince the Mayor to come out from behind his money.

As an aside, the ad defending the mayor that uses Rev. Butts is funny indeed. If, as Butts states, the mayor has been a great friend to Harlem (And not just to Butts and the ADC), than wouldn't he look forward to coming into the community so he could crow about his wonderful record?

Freddy an anti-Semite? This whole fracas is really getting interesting and if the mayor isn't careful he could be-yikes!- tar-babied by the whole controversy. Now Cunningham, the noted Talmudic scholar, is suggesting that Freddy, by insisting that Mike come to Harlem on Thursday to debate, is being insensitive to Jews since the debate comes only a day after Rosh Hashonah.

The subtext here is that the short interim between the holiday and the debate doesn't leave the mayor time to adequately prepare. This only underscores what we have been saying all along: the Bloombergers are scared to death about any unscripted event.

Lastly, Jamal Watson has great column exhorting the mayor to debate in Harlem