Monday, October 17, 2005

Money Quotes

The press, apparently now at ease because the mayor appears on the way to an historic election victory, has begun to examine the Bloomberg Splurge. Joyce Purnick at the Times this morning looks ($$) at the level of mayoral spending and determines, well, it's not really clear what she is saying beyond, it seems, the People are to blame.

Anyway maybe others could get the gist of this analysis but Purnick misses what we believe is the essential point in the queasiness we feel about the mayor's campaign excesses: The spending differentials has all but cut off meaningful debate and any concomitant evaluation of the mayor's record that goes beyond his self-serving canned messages.

The lack of any serious analysis is of course somewhat a function of the under-funded nature of the Ferrer campaign and its own inability to find themes that critique the mayor while simultaneously resonating with the voters. The largest culprit, however, is the press itself. In the face of the mayoral barrage Errol Louis is right: the media needs to become a lot more thorough and tenacious in its evaluation of the mayor's tenure.

A case in point is the mayor's charitable donations, featured in a Ferrer charge in today's Daily News. The level of Bloomberg's charitable giving has risen from around $27 million in 1997 to around $139 million today. So there is a direct correlation between the mayor's political ambitions and his largesse (The Harlem Boys Choir for instance didn't receive a nickel until after Bloomberg was politicized, at which point they were apparently discovered as a worthy charitable donation). Ferrer pointing this out is not, in Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser’s view, a "cheap shot", but a serious accusation, one that deserves major scrutiny from the press.

The mayor, after all, didn't get rich all of a sudden so his $112 of excess giving can reasonably be traced to only one motive. Isn't time to trace all of these expenditures and expose them for what they are: a fancy way of bribing support not because of any newly found generosity. Or in Joyce Purnick's phrase, "because he can."