The brightly painted blue and white sound truck moves through the crowded streets with the chant "Re-elect Abe Beame . . . Reelect Mayor Beame . . . He's delivered on his promises . . ." If the 925-page report of the Securities and Exchange Commission charging Beame with deception in covering up the true state of the city's finances two years ago, while trying to sustain the value of city bonds, has brought any change in the Beame campaign, it is not visible.
This sprawling coming-apart-at-the-seams, not only financially but in a half-dozen other ways, is seeing in the Democratic primary the politics of the past. Not one of the seven candidates shows any real grasp of the stringent remedies that might save the city, or if they have it, they lack the courage to speak out.
Instead, they rely on highly emotional appeals to the vaired ethnic groups of a melting pot that never melted. It is a charade out of another day, and if most voters are critical or indifferent, it is hardly surprising.
With the election scheduled for Sept. 7, the weighty SEC report is believed to have been so damaging that Beame will not be one of the two in a runoff - a runoff considered almost certain, since no candidate is likely to get 40 per cent of the vote.
Whether guilty or not of the deception in which the nation's leading banks are charged with participating, Beame has been a weak and ineffectual mayor. The city has wobbled along from crisis to crisis with the grim specter of bankruptcy hovering in the background.
Whatever the consequences of the deception surrounding the sale of city notes in 1974 and 1975 on Beame's own fortunes, the New York taxpayer will feel the blow.
Future city bonds will have to offer higher interest rates, which means less money for public costs. New York is currently borrowing about $2 billion annually from the federal government and paying 7 per cent interest for the loan.
While the expert knowledge required to straighten out the city's tangled affairs is available, Beame has never demonstrated the courage it would take to put through tough and probably unpopular measures. Nor do any of the other six candidates show concern for the stern expertise so urgently called for.
They are players in the old-fashioned game of politicas with little or no experience in administering the affairs of a great metropolis. A possible exception is Percy E. Sutton, borough president of Manhattan. Quick to jump on the SEC revelation, he equated deception with fraud and called for an investigation looking to criminal action.
But Sutton, a black, has been busy recruiting his own ehtnics. He brought black mayors and other black city officials from a dozen cities of New York to urge the blacks in Harlem to get out and vote for their man. Black voters are notoriously slack in registering and voting.
The only women in the race, Bella Abzug, relies heavily on her appeal to women's libbers, the Jewish majority in this largest Jewish city in the world - and her hat. She is a good actor and the hat is an invaluable identity prop. Bella is most likely to be one of the two in the runoff.
In the opinion of this observer, the outcome of the election will make little difference in the fate of the city. That may sound like a harsh verdict, but there is no one in sight with both the ability and the guts to make a serious try at an enormously difficult job so long neglected.
The Republicans have in Roy M. Goodman a highly respectable candidate with a good record in the state senate. He is spending generous amounts of his own money on his campaign. But with the din on the Democratic side, he finds it difficult to make himself heard.
With the blackout and the looting that went with it, the bombings and now the SEC revelations, New York has taken some body blows. Other cities struggling with the same difficulties are also in serious trouble with the politics of the past providing no answers. San Francisco is one example; Detroit is another.
Crime follows financial stability as a major concern. Bella Abzug has stirred the waves here by declaring for the right of police not only to unionize but also to strike. As sensational crimes like that of "Son of Sam" called on the full resources of the city's police force, her opponents were quick to jump on that declaration. One of the many promises President Carter made in his campaign was to help cure the ills of the nation's cities. It is a large order, and the President has a long way to go in fulfilling it.