By Andrew Wolf
New York City is about to become a “banana republic,” ruled not by the will of the people, but rather by the will of one man, our “benevolent” dictator, King Michael Bloomberg.
Twice the voters mandated term limits for city elected officials. They spoke clearly and their desires were respected. As a result, some very fine public officials were forced to step down. And it must be pointed out that the current crop of City Council members, beneficiaries of the law and the mayor knew exactly the terms of their employment.
Earlier suggestions that the Council repeal term limits so that their members could run for a third term or beyond were called “disgusting,” by Mayor Bloomberg himself.
But now as his own clock winds down, King Mike is attempting what is nothing more than a Beer Hall Putsch, and the Beer Hall is the City Council chamber. Enlisting the pliable, gutless and morally bankrupt Council Speaker, Christine “Lap Dog” Quinn, the mayor is about to “steal” an illegal third term. No matter what you think of Bloomberg as mayor, you should fear this gambit, and resist it with every fiber in your being. Rules are rules and respect for the law must not be tampered with. Ever.
Let’s start with the premise that the mayor is the only person who has the ability to “save” the city during the financial crisis. This is the same argument made by Mayor Giuliani, somewhat more persuasively, after 9/11.
Certainly with smoke still rising from the site of the World Trade Center, daily updates in the body counts, and disarray in the financial markets, a real crisis was at hand. All Giuliani asked for was a few extra months. Yet the plan was dropped as cooler heads prevailed. In a democracy, no one man is indispensable.
Now the “Indispensable Emperor” wants an extra four years. As the old Mike Bloomberg would say, it’s “disgusting.”
Before we end democracy in New York, we should closely examine the record of Michael Bloomberg. Is he indispensable? No. In fact in my view he hasn’t even been a good mayor, and continuing him in office would be a disaster.
In a city where the town’s richest man serves as mayor, and the media is greatly compromised by his wealth and influence, sometimes all news appears good, even when it is not.
And there has been plenty of bad news in Bloomberg’s New York. Here’s the truth:
I certainly can’t blame the world financial crisis on King Mike. But everyone should understand that he has failed to prepare us for the uncertain times we face today. He has had no cogent policy to diversify the city’s economy, and now we will pay the price. And more than any person, he was uniquely positioned to see the fragile state of the financial markets, as the leading supplier of information to Wall Street.
When the dust clears, New York City will have tens of thousands fewer jobs in the financial sector, the best and most productive jobs in town, from the perspective of raising tax revenue. And those jobs are not coming back, no matter what King Mike does. This will lead to a glut of residential and office space, and further declining real estate values. Where was our fearless all-knowing leader when we needed someone to sound the alarm?
Because this is a world crisis, the tourist boom, fed by a cheap dollar will also end. Even as the stock markets declined, the dollar has made a comeback, regaining 15% of its value against the euro. In other words, good for you and me when we travel abroad, but not so good for Europeans who have been filling our high end retail stores, getting bargains courtesy of the exchange rate. Look for lots of empty hotel rooms here.
And the mayor - with the connivance of the City Council — has mismanaged the budget. Unlike Mayor Giuliani, King Mike hasn’t shown budgetary restraint, and now we will pay. He already increased property taxes by 18% after 9/11, failed to give us the 1% sales tax break promised a generation ago during an earlier budget crisis, and has new plans to raise property taxes now. Look for more taxes and deep cuts, and give blame where blame is due - right with the Imperial Mayor.
The World Trade Center site, Ground Zero, is still an empty hole. Whose fault is that? King Mike has been our ruler now for seven years. He should have been screaming for action. Now it is clear that even a memorial will not be completed even in time for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 outrage. Another victory for the terrorists.
What of the mayor’s other “accomplishments?”
You will hear much talk of better schools. Where? Certainly not here in Riverdale, as every important indicator is way down. Our schools are now being run by unqualified, insensitive “instant principals,” whose loyalty is to King Mike and his Court Jester, Chancellor Joel Klein, and not to our children and our community.
Citywide, test scores key tests administered by those outside of New York are flat, even as the cost of running schools has increased by 79% and the number of students declined by 60,000. Amazingly, 5,000 extra teachers have disappeared into the system, but class size is as big as ever. The conclusion is inescapable. King Mike has botched the job.
The State Legislature, blessedly, rejected the burden that congestion pricing would place on us. But if King Mike stages his coup, can we count on them to continue to protect those of us who, here in the outer boroughs, will surely be victimized by this wacky scheme?
As he has failed with the big things, the out-of-touch Emperor, perhaps spending too much time with his billionaire pals at his estate in Bermuda, has put through some small projects which reveals how disconnected from our lives he is.
He boasts of a new bus line to speed travel time across Fordham Road. And it has. But it comes at the expense of every single parking space along Fordham Road between University Avenue and Southern Boulevard. The result? Retail business has suffered greatly. But hey, when was the last time unthinking King Mike shopped on Fordham Road?
The Benevolent Dictator likes to tell us what we can eat and what we can’t. So he (and the mental midgets on the City Council) came up with the craziest scheme of all, to place hundreds of pushcarts on the streets to sell fresh fruits and vegetables to “underserved” poor communities. King Mike failed to realize that if there was a real demand for more availability of fruit and vegetables, the free market would satisfy it.
So what happened? Only eight vendors came forward, and as of now, they are doing miserably. You see even his highness, Emperor Mike, the Banana King, can’t repeal the laws of supply and demand.
And he shouldn’t be allowed to try and repeal our term limits law, either.
Even if he was doing a great job, repeal of term limits would be morally wrong. Because this king has failed us, repeal would be a disaster for our city on every level.