Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Battle Begins

As Mike Bloomberg begins his assault on the will of the people, the big question that remains is; Will he be able to use his vast fortune to once again buy the outcome? We certainly wouldn't bet against it happening, but we also believe that there will be a nasty and vicious battle-and that the Bloomberg veneer will be eroded in the process.

It's already started. As Juan Gonzales writes this morning in the NY Daily News: "The one-time Wall Street trader and media mogul, the man who long claimed the mantle of citizen reformer, reveals himself to be another political boss willing to break any promise to cling to power. It was Bloomberg, after all, who repeatedly supported term limits and who once derided an effort to eliminate them as "disgusting." This goes beyond blind ambition. It signals one more step by the city's moneyed elite to rewrite the rules of government for self-benefit - just like that first Wall Street bailout plan devised by Bloomberg's buddy Henry Paulson."

And the idea of indispensability will, we believe, begin to grate on the ear of New Yorkers. As the NY Times reports this morning: "But Howard Rich, the chairman of U.S. Term Limits, a group that opposes what it calls “career politicians,” repeated a line often attributed to Charles de Gaulle: “The graveyards are filled with indispensable men.”

This is shaping up then as a classic battle between money and the people at the grass roots level; we will now see just how deep the mayor's popularity runs. And we do get a big kick out of former mayor Ed Koch, "Mr. Irrelevant," telling the Times; “I’d be prepared to devote 110 percent of my time,” Mr. Koch said, adding: “Very few people will run against him, and they will lose by a huge margin. He’s a very popular mayor with a special niche in the city’s heart.”

Koch conveniently forgets just what a disaster his third term was-and make no mistake, the long knives will be out if the mayor back doors this in a city council sleight-of-hand. As Chris Keeley of Common Cause tells the NY Post: "But Bloomberg, who in the past opposed and took action to block changes to term limits, will face a big fight. "That would be abhorrent. That is making an end run around what the voters have done twice."

And. according to the Post, it looks as if Anthony Weiner is prepared to make the fight: "Anthony is celebrating Rosh Hashana, but has said he is running for mayor. He wants to offer a vision of how to fight for the middle class and those struggling to make it," Weiner spokesman John Collins said. He called the mayor's plans to seek four more years "highly speculative" because there's been no change to the existing law limiting officials to two terms."

The upcoming battle, will put Speaker Quinn, someone who also has previously and vehemently opposed extension, right in the middle of the cross hairs. As the Post points out: "Quinn's staff did not respond to repeated requests for comment after news broke in the afternoon that Bloomberg intends to announce plans tomorrow that he will run for a third term. The speaker previously blasted the prospect of "overruling the will of New Yorkers" on term limits through a bill, instead of a public referendum, but has backed off her criticism in recent months."

All of which makes the next few months extremely interesting, as we all head in to what promises to be choppy political waters. The idea that the city would not be able to survive without Mike Bloomberg for another four years-because of a crisis that can be attributed in good part to the very same folks who Mayor Mike calls his best buds, is abhorrent-and just may alter the mayor's vastly over rated legacy forever.