Monday, September 26, 2005

Bloomberg: The Anti-Politician?

In a speech this weekend the mayor, for the time, attacked the Democratic nominee, criticizing Ferrer’s approach to Education reform. According to the Times:
In his speech, Mr. Bloomberg defined himself as a sort of antipolitician who, free from the messy impositions of "donors, special interests, patronage or partisanship," has focused solely on what is best for all New Yorkers. He said that mayors "solve problems not by taking both sides of big issues, but by deciding what's right and then going after it," and that "honest leadership that doesn't waver or blow with the wind."
Bloomberg is cleverly spinning his blatant disregard for the campaign finance system by saying that he’s avoiding taking donations from political interest groups. What needs to be pointed out is that not only did the mayor promise in 2001 that he would not spend as much money for his reelection bid, but his obscene spending makes a mockery of the entire election process. The whole purpose of campaign finance reform is to create a level playing field, ensuring that a candidate’s wealth or ability to fundraise isn’t the sole criterion for a successful campaign.

For the past few months, however, Bloomberg has flouted this reform and is on pace to spend $100 million for this campaign. Sure, the Mayor has a very high approval rating right now but the big question is how much of people’s favorable impressions are the result of a disproportionate deluge of sophisticated advertising? While Bloomberg’s lead over Ferrer cannot be simply attributed to spending, when one candidate is outspending another 8-1 it certainly makes a difference.

The other point to be made is that the mayor’s claim that he’s free of “patronage or partisanship” is quite laughable. As we have pointed out, especially with the Bronx Terminal Market project, Bloomberg and his team of dollar a day administrators are in fact quite partial to billionaires like Steve Ross, awarding them no-bid contracts, and generous subsidies for developments. This “patricianage” needs to be fully exposed in order to demonstrate that the mayor's entire economic development strategy is, in fact, beholden to special interests, interests that often conflict with what's best for the New York City taxpayer.