October 28, 2009
Let’s take the first scary fact. Mike the Boss Bloomberg (as in Boss Tweed) is spending $85 million on this his third term, after New Yorkers voted twice for two-term limits. A little arm-twisting, a raise for the City Council, and badaboom, they rubber stamped it. But, as the New Times reports, “he’s on pace to spend between $110 million and $140 million before Nov. 3” to beat his Democratic Rival Bill Thompson, whose got $6 million to spend and is twenty points behind him. Why such spending angst? Something big must be on the line.
|Mike the Boss Bloomberg.|
In fact and when this election is over, Boss B will have spent some $250 million on his three elections, which the Times says is the budget of the home town in Massachusetts Bloomberg grew up in. Mind you, this is the “I take a dollar a year” for the job Bloomberg. But let’s examine that. When Bloomberg first bought his way into office his wealth was valued at a mere $5 billion. In the past eight years, it has more than tripled at $16 billion. So the dollar a year investment yielded an $11 billion profit in just eight years.
The New York Mayoralty has also made Boss Bloomberg a national and international figure as he globe-trots and tap-dances about the city. You can’t pay for publicity like that. His high profile had to greatly help his financial business, which is the leader in rapid electronic processing of derivatives trades, the same derivatives that have taken down a portion of the economy. His market savvy comes from his days at, you guessed it, Goldman Sachs as a trader/trained electrical engineer. His mayoral celebrity has given an inestimable boost to Bloomberg News as well. Neither of these enterprises, I suspect, will be of use to the folks sleeping in the shelters.
Additionally, while most New Yorkers Up and Downtown, East and West Side, are tightening their belts, getting tossed out of houses, co-ops or condos, losing their jobs, standing on unemployment lines, etcetera, Boss Bloomberg and his crew are lapping up the gravy. Here’s a selection of the goodies from the Times’ article…
“The campaign has spent $322,521 on food, $293,953 on transportation, $176,066 on furniture and $39,858 on parking.
“His lavish spending has confounded political consultants and campaign finance experts, who said that his popularity with New Yorkers, and his built-in advantages as a two-term incumbent, should be sufficient to win him re-election…
“With more than 100 employees, his campaign now has a staff larger than 97 percent of all businesses in New York City. And his political operation has become a one-man economic stimulus program, buying $8,892 worth of pizza from Goodfellas Brick Oven Pizza (itals mine) on Staten Island and in the Bronx…
“It’s a huge help,” said Marc Cosentino, one of the owners of Goodfellas. “They don’t have to economize like everyone else (itals mine).”
“Squier Knapp Dunn, the media company responsible for the mayor’s television ads, has taken in $48,313,776. While most of that money pays for TV time, media companies typically receive fees of about 15 percent.
“The spending has drawn howls of protest from good-government groups and advocates of campaign finance reform… Several said, angrily, that the mayor’s decisions to rewrite New York City’s term limits law and then spend wildly to secure re-election, have undermined democratic principles.
“Whether Bloomberg wins or loses, the toxic combination of mega-spending and crass use of his office to bypass the voters on term limits will always be a stain on his mayoralty,” said Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “These twin assaults on municipal democracy will undermine his political clout in a third term and sadly fuel public skepticism about elections and elected officials.” I would hope so. Now, let’s get to the second scandalous fact, which somehow Bill Thompson hasn’t picked up on.
Crisis looming for NYC Homeless System
As homelessness.change.org reports: “The New York City homeless shelter population has hit an all-time high. Over 120,000 people sought shelter in NYC during the past year and 39,000 homeless people check into NYC shelters each night. With cold weather on the horizon, the number of people seeking shelter inevitable increases. What will this mean for a city already struggling to meet the current need?
“This new information comes from a report published this week by the Coalition for the Homeless, a NYC homeless advocacy group. It said that the city has not seen such high levels of homelessness since the Great Depression. These alarming numbers come despite Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to ending homelessness ‘as we know it’ back in 2004. Despite this commitment, the Coalition points out that homelessness has increased 45 percent since Bloomberg took office eight years ago (itals mine).
“Then again, pointing fingers during a time like this is useless. New York City has a crisis on its hands. If shelters were filled to the brim at the end of the summer, it’s unsettling to think about the possibility of running out of shelter space come winter. This is not a far-fetched possibility, given that cold weather often sends people to shelters in droves. Stop squabbling – politics can wait. It’s time to start thinking about how to save lives this winter.”
Do something about it now
I take umbrage with not pointing a finger at Bloomberg, who is the essence of the Elite thumbing his nose at the poor, the working and middle-classes while claiming to be concerned with them. His actions speak louder than his endless commercials. For instance, why doesn’t Boss Bloomberg use his own money as freely to finance the transformation of standing structures as shelters? Is that asking too much?
Well then, why doesn’t he sponsor a gala for those-with-the-most for those-with-the-least and invite all of his rich friends to attend at $25,000 a plate bash. In fact, why not tier ticket prices as Bush would have done, having his Pioneer givers peel off a hundred grand a ticket. The Glitterati would love this. Vanity Fair would have a field day covering it.
Boss B could definitely invite his superrich buddy Donald Trump, the builder of so many new hi-rise apartment buildings behind the Hudson railway Yards they blur the view for blocks and blocks.
Also Boss B wanted to give away the nearby Hudson railway Yards to the Jets for a wee $100 million to build a football stadium. When Congressman Anthony Weiner fortunately interceded, an open bidding session came about, without fear of intimidation. Weiner produced a fee of $700 million, closer to the real value of the Yards. Congressman Weiner had a few choice words for Boss Bloomberg in March of 2005, in Bloomberg’s second term in a speech Ending Insider Deals and Secret Budgets…
“Four years ago, many people voted for Mike Bloomberg because they thought his great wealth would allow him to bring a new, innovative, incorruptible spirit to city government. Unfortunately, he’s betrayed the reform movement.
“He has opened the door for the worst business practices. He presides over an administration where he and his minions routinely operate in secrecy, work exclusively with close allies, and put the deal ahead of the public interest.
Mike Bloomberg has let the Enron ethic invade City Hall.
“I want to talk today about the need to reform our City government. The problems are obvious: Too many insider deals. Special connections have bought the right to special deals. Too many dark corners. Too much of what happens in our City happens out of the public’s view. Too much off-budget. Too much of the public’s money is spent and misspent without any public oversight.
“So today, I will present a three-part plan to end insider deals and secret budgets.
[efoods]An attack on special connections, special favors, and backdoor spending.
It is amazing to me that in the most innovative city in the world, where people in business and the arts come up with new ideas everyday, we have so few new ideas about how government can solve problems.
“I propose real solutions: legal requirements that ban insider deals, regulations that end pay to play, and laws that open up the bidding process and make our City’s budget truly transparent.” I would suggest you read the entire piece, beginning with “An End to Insider Deals,” then take it from there. You’ll get a whole different picture of Mike Bloomberg.
So, yes, invite Donald Trump to renovate some space around town for new shelters. After all, he could write it off to charity, and in return for overpopulating that section of the West Side, without building one new school. Its train stations are also woefully stressed with crowds. Just so Donald is not lonely, invite some more of the monied real estate developers that Boss Bloomberg is so cosy with.
There are the developers of Citi-Field for the Mets in Flushing, Queens where the Jets Stadium also wound up, with plenty of open space for parking and tail-gate barbecues. Also there’s the new Yankee Stadium deal with city bonds and city cash, big-time. Then there was the plan to turn the Atlantic Train Yards in Park Slope, Brooklyn, into a giant basketball stadium complex, totally not in keeping with this quiet neighborhood of brownstones, working class and professional families.
This deal was to be headed by Bloomberg buddy, mega-developer Bruce Ratner, giving him “rights to build nearly 1.9 million square feet of residential and commercial space on properties north and west of the Atlantic Avenue rail yards, which would have exceeded the current zoning for those sites, and without having to put the proposal through the city’s lengthy land use review process,” as reported in NYC: City of the Developer’s Sweetheart Deal. It goes on to say, “All of this tax payer funder largess thrown at Ratner’s feet in return for vague promises of affordable housing.” In fact, the Daily Gotham closed with much stronger words:
“So Bloomberg ONCE AGAIN uses our tax money in backroom deals to enrich developer buddies. And ONCE AGAIN a scandal happens right under the nose of Christine Quinn [City Council Speaker] and she is shocked…SHOCKED!…to find out such things could happen under her watch.
“What a load of crap. This city is run in such a corrupt fashion it is astonishing. Transparency is deliberately avoided in favor of an opaqueness required for backroom deals between wealthy buddies. Pataki was in the thick of it. Bloomberg still is in the thick of it and wants a third term to continue his enrichment of his buddies. Marty Markowitz [Brooklyn Borough President] is in the thick of it and wants a third term to further wallow in the money. Vito Lopez [NYS Assembly Rep] was so eager to be in the thick of it that even Bloomberg balked. And Quinn is either turning a blind eye or genuinely doesn’t have a clue how to run a city government.” By the way, she did not endorse Bloomberg.
Continuing with the Gotham, “As with the banks, I do not advocate any taxpayer money going to developers unless there is also reform in the process, greater transparency, independent oversight, and greater benefit to the community.
“What do we need? We need a new mayor. We need new blood in our city council. We need a Public Advocate like Norman Siegel, who is not the slave of developers but rather has a solid 30 year record of defending the public. We need a Comptroller who is willing to stand up against this kind of crap (that means NOT Weasel Yassky and NOT Melinda Katz, who receives more developer money than any other NYC politician…which leaves Weprin for Comptroller? God knows).
“Sadly, unless Norm Siegel and either Anthony Weiner or Bill Thompson [Bloomberg’s current challenger] can pull it off despite developer and Bloomberg money backing the corrupt status quo, we are more than likely going to see more of the same mismanagement of the city where parents are left out of the decisions about their kids’ education, but developers get to write their own sweetheart deals and Bloomberg will sign on the dotted line with no oversight…and Quinn will be, yet again, shocked when she finds out.” Not exactly high recommendations.
But maybe Bloomberg’s buddy and WTC Lessee/developer Larry Silverstein of 9/11 fame could lend a hand to turn his karma around and offer some help to the homeless. He’s the fellow whose building fell in its own footprint, though no plane hit it. Rather it was an “internal demolition” ordered by him. As he more or less said, “there was so much pain and suffering,” we decided to “pull it.” He also made $500 million in insurance on it, plus what he made as the WTC/Lessee, $4.56 billion for himself and his backers. Sterling cast, Masters of the Universe!
But more than that, Boss Bloomberg’s gala should go down into those subways for a taste of reality, not at 9 A.M. to show themselves for the voters. But at 4 A.M. to catch the gaggle of homeless sprawled on the benches. You want to see overbooked, that’s it. And catch the homeless on park benches. Or huddled on flattened cardboard cartons in recessed store entrances or in plain sight. It’s not a pretty sight for the US’s signature city. It’s not a pretty sight for the world. So do something about it Mr. Mayor, Mr. Developer, Boss Bloomberg, besides giving us your pat speeches and your arrogance with shines like your permanent suntan. Perhaps your shadow reputation is behind your spending angst.
And is it any wonder that the city’s broke and doesn’t have money, either to build schools, to pay teachers, to pay teachers who lost their schools. Or for thousands of cops let go—and for more fire houses that could be closed.
Bottom line, this is not just a New York story. New Yorkers and Americans coast to coast, have to think of what the so-called democratic election process has come to when guys like dollar-a-year Bloomberg can just crush it with money—made one way or the other. And you have to think, after he’s bought New York’s election, what’s next? Buying America’s?