The New York Connection

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bloomberg Sings My Way

There's an interesting article in the Times about Bloomberg's management style. I've heard a lot about this from various people. This article does a nice job of giving you a bit of insight into who this guy is and what he thinks about politics. While he is considered a 'liberal' by his friends, he's more just a rich guy who is personally generous and trusts his instincts unerringly.

Like a lot of billionaires, Bloomberg basically thinks that politics is dirty, and it frustrates him that there are so many conflicting interests. As an officeholder, he shows that this irritation dictates his management style. His money gives him freedom, true, but it also deprives him of essential pressure that allows a Mayor to do a good job.

One city councilman, Charles Barron, learned that when he tried to negotiate with the mayor over the 2003 budget and argued that the mayor should reverse plans to reduce the number of city firehouses.

Mr. Bloomberg, frustrated by the haggling, shouted angrily that he did not care, using colorful language, "if you vote for my budget or not," Mr. Barron recalled in an interview. "I think he has a real thin veil once you push his button. Remember, he's a C.E.O. used to having his way."

Mr. Bloomberg said that he remembered the conversation differently but that he had found the negotiation process in politics much different from that of the business world. "In business, not with everybody but generally, the objective is to get something done that you're talking about," he said. "Here it's more horse trading. The issues tend to be, 'I'll vote for this if you give me something that's totally unrelated.' The discussion is not about the merits of the particular subject."

"It disappointed me," he said.

I can just hear it now - we should run government like a business. The thing is, government is not a business. Businesses are supposed to make money, governments are to supposed to protect and promote the public. That means dealing with the public, with all its guts and glory, and not sticking to only what's on your mind.

Yet the mayor has been forced to adapt. During the battle over the stadium, the administration offered Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the State Assembly, a huge array of goodies for his district - a new school, new parks, new tax incentives for businesses in his area - in a failed bid to get support for the plan.

And his critics tend to object to his claims of being apolitical, noting, for instance, his new, election-year opposition to a freight tunnel that is woefully unpopular in a politically important area of Maspeth, Queens. He had previously called its financing "a priority."

Let me just say that I agree with the mayor's critics. It's not apolitical. It is however incompetent politics.

Still, even now the mayor sees himself as something of a stranger to the political scene.

"Keep in mind, I'm not the average officeholder at the mayoral level or any other level," Mr. Bloomberg said during the interview. "I'm not beholden to anybody; I didn't take any money. I had a freedom, I think, to go and to do things my way."

Thank God Bloomberg doesn't have to listen to the people and can do whatever he wants. Ok, that last bit is a little nasty, but really, the point is that absolute freedom for an elected official is only good for people who have perfect instincts and don't need to listen to other people. And no one has perfect instincts.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

M-Lo Schizo

Craziest day. I found these little pieces of paper that somehow didn't go down the memory hole.


NY1 Reporter (Juan Manuel Benítez): And has it ever occurred to you to cross party lines, perhaps to back Mayor Bloomberg politically, a person with whom you have a good relationship?

Margarita López: I have an excellent relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, but I am a Democrat and a progressive. I cannot support a Republican with positions that stand against the interests of the people that I represent, the minority communities, the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual community. The Republican agenda stands against the issues that I understand must be represented in this city, which is the reason that I am a Democrat and I am a progressive.
[NY1 Noticias/Pura Política, Broadcast on 6.17.05]

...ever since, gay marriage supporters have blasted Bloomberg's actions from City Hall to the Internet as politically expedient... The same Bloomberg who had won office by convincing voters he was an independent-minded entrepreneur was suddenly attempting to save his hide with a blatant campaign maneuver. "The mayor has sent a message to the city that he is a political person--not just a businessperson--and can take positions with double meaning," says City Councilmember Margarita Lopez, a lesbian from Manhattan.
[Village Voice, 2/22/05]

Gay and lesbian advocates have been pushing Bloomberg to back gay marriage. Councilwoman Margarita Lopez (D-Manhattan), who is gay, said she plans to ask Bloomberg to perform a marriage ceremony for her and her long-time partner. "That would be a good test for him, to come out of the closet on gay marriages," she said.
[Newsday, 7/2/03]

Twenty black and Latino legislators yesterday denounced Mayor Bloomberg's plan for nonpartisan elections, saying it will hurt minority voters."Let's get clear and let's get real here. Nonpartisan elections is simply about destroying the democratic process of this city," said Councilwoman Margarita Lopez (D-Manhattan).
[NYP, 10/29/03]

Mayor Bloomberg fired three members of his Panel for Educational Policy last night - ramming through his plan to hold back failing third-graders this year. The power play caused a firestorm of complaint that Bloomberg ... had orchestrated a coup worthy of a Third World nation…The firings were announced by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein... as Klein started to announce what he called the "resignations," City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez stood and shouted, "They did not resign - they were removed!"
[Daily News, 3/16/04]

Just hours after United States and British forces began military strikes in Afghanistan, several thousand people attended a peace rally yesterday in Union Square Park and marched to Times Square, singing antiwar protest songs and carrying candles and banners announcing their opposition to military action….Margarita Lopez, a city councilwoman from the Lower East Side, shouted into the microphone: "Not in my name, not in the name of New York City, not in the name of my district, you're not going to kill anyone in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or anyone in the Middle East."
[New York Times, 10/8/01]


Bloomberg Told Bush All New Yorkers Were Behind The President on Iraq War. According to an article published in Newsday, “Bloomberg said he told President George W. Bush that ‘all New Yorkers are behind the president’ in his decision to go to war with Iraq.” [Newsday, 3/20/03]

Her capacity for double-think is Bloombergian.

Margarita Lopez endorses Mike Bloomberg’s refusal to perform her own marriage ceremony. Awesome. She throws her "progressive" political career away to endorse an oligarch's effort to “destroy the democratic process of this city.” Sweet.

Maybe she had a change of heart on the Iraq war. Big fan now.

Whatever the reason, she's dead to me. Dead to Democrats. Done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Get back to your log cabin, Ellner, you sell-out

Democrats! The reason Howard Dean keeps coming to New York City for Freddy Ferrer is because local races are an important venue for promoting progressive ideas, building an effective network of Democratic electeds at all levels of government and battling George Bush's agenda at a level where we can win.

We thought that Brian Ellner understood that, by running his somewhat absurd ad asserting that he was running for Borough President to challenge George W.

Turns out Brian didn't get it. Either that, or he's just a fraud and a traitor. Because he's now working for Mayor doubt because he's getting his piece of the pie.

And in doing so, selling out the Democratic Party he pretended to be fighting for. And selling out the the gay community, which has not been served by a Mayor who has blocked gay marriage, blocked benefits for same sex partners, and just keeps buying approval across the city.

Congratulations, Mr. Ellner. Mayor Money is buying you a nice big Log Cabin. You win. We lose.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Also, bar Barowitz from the Party

Jordan Barowitz worked on the Democratic coordinated campaign in 2000. Then he went to work for Bloomberg -- both in government and, now, on the political side.

He may think that he'll hop back to a Democratic campaign someday...but Dems should never allow it. He's not just working for a Republican (face it - many are), but he's spreading Rove's talking points and loving it.

In today's news: accusing Ferrer of inaccuracies and exaggerations, Barowitz asks, "What next? The Internet?" -- a clear reference to the GOP-driven smear campaign to make Gore out to be a liar in 2000.

Here's the truth: Gore never said he invented the Internet. That was rightwing spin that mainstream swallowed.

What Gore did claim was an instrumental role in supporting the creation of the pre-Internet networks from his role in the Senate -- a statement that is true and verified by the men and woman most often credited with pioneering Internet technology.

Gore had spoken the truth...and should be remembered and commended for investing in the technology (yes, government investment in infrastructure we all now use every day). Instead, he's falsely remembered due to a vicious, duplicitous campaign.

...that Jordan Barowitz is now quoting.

If Mayor's Money Merry Men want to quote Rove -- they are also using the "flip-flop" line which Rove created to convince the world that W's narrow-minded stubbornness was strength while Kerry's engagement in dialogue, nuance and problem-solving was weakness -- let them.

But don't let them back into the fold.

Find out who started calling Freddy a "flip-flopper." They are out.
And anyone who resurrects the internet line to deride it is out for good. Don't worry about them, Rove will give them a job...if he's not in jail.

"Didn't have time to prepare"

Mayor Money shouldn't have started giving excuses. If he wants to skip the Apollo debate, he should have just skipped it, and stuck with his initial response: "I'm participating in two debates at the end of the month."

Instead, he felt the pressure...and rather than say what he was thinking -- "I'm the frontrunner and don't want to justify these other guys more than I have to" -- he started making excuses. And when excuses are false, they just sound dumb.

"The Mayor had to take time off for the Jewish holiday and therefore didn't have time to prepare," his staff was saying by yesterday afternoon.

First of all, you've been Mayor for 3 and a half years -- why do you need to prepare? Unless your recent Caribbean trip has tanned your memory of your Mayoralty out of your mind, you should be pretty fresh on your achievements and your vision.

This is amateur ball.

Second, Mayor Money is Jewish just as he's a "Democrat." He may have been raised that way, but he's not practicing what he's been preached. He's entitled to his religion, but he just wears the label when he needs to...and I doubt he spent a day in deep and personal meditation. If he was busy making the rounds of every denomination of voter, that's fine...that's "politics" and it's expected...but don't pretend it was "time off" for the holiday. That's just obnoxious.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bloomberg's Lie to Me Finally Gets Noticed

It shouldn't come to anyone's surprise that a George W. Bush sycophant like Mike Bloomberg would lie. It only took three months of prodding to get noticed by the Democrats.

Freddy's Public School/Private School flap last week apparently spurred the Ferrer camp to not just factcheck their own site and fire the staffer who had been writing Freddy's diary, but also got them to do a little Oppo at Mike's place.

Where they found Mike's lie to me.

  • Fred from Manhattan: How do you plan to get the homeless of this City permanent and secure places to live?

  • Mike Answers: We're already bringing down the overall number of homeless New Yorker [sic]; that's why we were able to close the biggest family shelter in New York...
Gifford Miller shot “When Bloomberg can’t confuse New Yorkers with millions in television ads, he’s willing to downright lie about his record. In the ‘Ask Mike’ section of his website, which Bloomberg said he personally oversees and approves, he writes that he is already bringing down the overall number of homeless New Yorkers."

Fact: Under his four years as mayor, homelessness has skyrocketed a staggering 26%! And he knows it.

The man closed the largest homeless shelter in the city during a spike in homelessness. Ouch. Perhaps when he says he's "finally addressing homelessness at its roots," he's saying - homelessness is a reality, and to change homelessness, we need to change reality.

Typical Republican problem solving.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tone Deaf Much, Schumer?

From, on Schumer meeting (or rather, NOT meeting) with Cindy Sheehan.

UPDATE: According to my sources, the meeting with Schumer did not go well, to begin with, because he refused to meet with her, and instead sent an aide. She asked the aide if Senator Schumer would help in the effort to bring this war to an end, and the aide replied that: "Senator Schumer thinks this war is good for America." According to the source, Sheehan walked out, remarking "Wel, I guess this means Schumer thinks my son's death was good for America." Or words to that effect.

But guess who he does listen to?

Yesterday Charles Schumer and Dick Durbin attended a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Schumer seemed to be in command...

[Schumer] indicated that conservative Senators including Coburn believe Roberts will uphold Roe v. Wade. He seemed inclined to vote for Roberts and to present an image of "reasonableness" though he said he is still undecided. The momentum seemed to be in favor keeping the powder dry for the "O'Connor" replacement. Schumer polled the room and the overwhelming majority supported voting for Roberts as a way of keeping our powder dry.

Gosh. But surely he must not be suggesting we follow the disastrous strategy of 2002 and 2004, ignoring the war in Iraq in favor of health care and education, right?

Schumer said that early next year the Dems will put out an agenda returning the focus to Bread and Butter issues... Education and Healthcare seem to be paramount.

Yay! A troika of dumbosity!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Republicans Are for Opposing - No, Really

Bloomie's bedfellows
A month ago, The Times ran an article about Hillary Clinton strategist Howard Wolfson’s radical call to arms entitled "One Democrat Draws a Line: Republicans Are for Opposing."

Well, duh. Right? No. Sadly, the lesson needs to be reiterated in New York City where many New Yorkers who would like to consider themselves Democrats nevertheless support Mike Bloomberg for Mayor.

First it should be stated that if Wolfson means what he said, he should get his boss Senator Clinton to endorse Freddy Ferrer… or, better, have President Clinton go shaking hands in Harlem with Ferrer. Why? Because while I may not be a Ferrer supporter, I am a good Democrat. Are the Clintons good Democrats? Shelve that discussion for later.

Look, primaries are rough, but New York primaries contain the especially pernicious possibility of a run-off – a dream come true for any incumbent. It’s like getting the two wounded dolts who just barely survive a circular firing squad to face each other and joust to the death.

And then the winner of that matchup gets to take on a bottomless campaign war-chest.

Lately in New York elections, run-offs have been all too common. In a city with many ambitious politicians, vacancies for elected office have always brought out more than enough candidates. Racial, ethnic and religious tensions have been inflamed in many of the contests. In short, they’re a mess.

I don't like him, but I believe Ferrer has the best chance to beat Bloomberg because Bloomberg will be beaten by someone who can draw out Mayor Mike’s major weakness: that he’s out of touch with outer-Borough New York life. To those who have tried to explain the sanctity of voting one’s conscience, I say: There’s no god, fight Republicans.

Party discipline is paramount when your party is out of power. When affiliated voters vote, they are participating in the election with a partisanship above that of independent voters. You enter an election as a member of a party to win the election.

Is that Howard Wolfson and me pushing the envelope or is it common sense?

And for those of us who would like to take back the reins of the party and rebuild a new model of political participation, Wolfson says it well:

"Democratic donors at all levels, I think, understand the importance of party and institution building, and I know that we need to do a better job in these areas to compete with Republicans.

But I would hope that our friends understand that this applies here in New York City as much as it does anywhere else in the country."

Do our friends understand?