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28th June
2005

First Published in The New York Sun, June 28, 2005

By Andrew Wolf

The famous photograph of a tightlipped Mayor Bloomberg being kissed by Bertha Lewis, the executive director of the far-left activist group ACORN, is displayed in glorious color on the front page of the current issue of City Limits magazine. A few weeks ago, the same liplock was featured on the editorial page of the Sun. That a Republican mayor, Mr. Bloomberg, is the recipient of this “bacio della morte”from the far left’s diva of dependency is astounding.

Even more surprising is that Mr. Bloomberg is lionized in much of this issue of the magazine as “the people’s mayor.” But amazingly, Mr. Bloomberg appears to be able to move as far to the left as he wants, without paying any price from Republicans, who can’t possibly agree with even a small part of Ms. Lewis’s agenda.
The campaign of Thomas Ognibene, the former Queens council member, seems to be on life support. The mayor has aggressively moved to prevent the Ognibene forces from gathering the requisite number of signatures he needs to win a spot on the Republican primary ballot. At the beginning of the petition period, Bloomberg forces descended on the very areas of strength that Mr. Ognibene was counting on to provide him with petition signatures. Under the election law, once you’ve signed one petition, you cannot sign another. Mr. Ognibene is also lagging in fund-raising. This spells big trouble for the Republican challenger.

Under normal circumstances, favorable notices in City Limits would doom a Republican among members of his own party. For those unfamiliar with it, City Limits could be described as the official house organ of the crowd that believes that it has been all downhill in New York City since Mayor Dinkins left office.

In the world of City Limits, the worst mayor Gotham has ever had is clearly Rudolph Giuliani. In starting their editorial asking if Mr. Bloomberg is the “people’s mayor,” the editors make this clear. “If being an improvement from the Giuliani era were the only criteria, Michael Bloomberg would have been anointed the People’s Mayor a long time ago,” the editorial reads.

Mr. Bloomberg won praise for abandoning what they termed the “punitive” welfare programs of the past,“softening the city’s approach.” More welfare for less (or better yet, no) work is a central tenet of City Limits and its partisans.

So is “affordable housing,” the reason why Ms. Lewis was feeling so amorous toward Mr.Bloomberg.Affordable housing is today’s shorthand for heavy government subsidies. The mayor is praised for what the magazine terms the “modest” plan to “protect or create 65,000 affordable units.”
While excoriating Mr. Bloomberg’s “predilection toward stadiums and giveaways to big business,” the magazine notes that “the mayor’s [sic] also
quietly pushed economic revitalization from the bottom up in the boroughs.”

Could all this translate into an endorsement from the political arm of the folks who run City Limits magazine, the Working Families Party? That ballot line is currently occupied by a “placeholder,” a candidate who can be removed almost at will by party leadership, which includes the lip-locking Ms. Lewis. This would be a valuable ballot line for the mayor, a place where the furthest left wing of the Democratic voter base could comfortably pull the lever for Mr. Bloomberg without dirtying its hands on the Republican or Lenora Fulani’s Independence Party lines.

Lest the mayor get too captivated by Ms. Lewis’s charm and the adulation of her minions, City Limits makes note of the things that it doesn’t like: “consolidating power in the school system … a love of big tax giveaways to megacorporations … a secretive management style inherited from his private sector days that doesn’t work well in the public sector.”

But as the editors look at Mayor Mike and remember Rudy, they sum up the reality of the Republican mayor who shares so many of their goals: “Yet seeing light notes in a dark era reminds us that our work in communities, or laboring quietly for good in seemingly immovable bureaucracies, need not always be in vain.”

Can you imagine what they might say, and indeed what they might expect, if their Working Families Party provides Mr. Bloomberg with the margin of victory in November?
***

Fernando Ferrer’s good friend, the Reverend Alford Sharpton, is once again playing with the former Bronx borough president like a cat with an especially dull mouse. According to published reports, Rev. Sharpton is dangling a possible endorsement in exchange for a Shermanesque statement by Mr. Ferrer backing down from his remarks on the Amadou Diallo matter.

This is an exact reprise of the game played four years ago when Rev. Sharpton dangled Mr. Ferrer on a string for weeks awaiting the endorsement that was negotiated a full year earlier by Mr. Ferrer’s chief strategist, Roberto Ramirez.

It is clear that Rev. Sharpton just loves torturing Mr. Ferrer. And should Mr. Ferrer ultimately be given the Reverend’s support, he will once again appear a supplicant.This is how it looked four years ago: the real reason why the now infamous New York Post cartoon of Mr. Ferrer kissing Mr. Sharpton’s derriere was so devastating — it had the tiny grain of truth behind it that makes this type of satire so effective.

© 2005 The New York Sun, One, SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

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