Friday, February 16, 2007

Not Beholden to Special Interests

We have been commenting for some time now about the tendency of media pundits to sanctify elected officials of great wealth for their insulation from special interests. As we have said, however, insulation cuts both ways; It may allow one to avoid some tawdry conflicts but, at the same time, it can cut the elected official off from the pain and suffering of ordinary New Yorkers.

We have seen this happen time and time again with Mayor Mike-from when he commented that the loss of $250 million a year (because of a confiscatory cigarette tax) from the coffers of the city's grocery stores was a "minor economic issue," to the fiasco over the botched school bus overhaul. The mayor seems incapable, an almost "trained incapacity," to feel the pain of the average citizen-or to admit that those under him might have screwed up.

The latest example is the fiasco around the failure of the city to cancel alternate side parking during Tuesday's snow storm that led to the ticketing of thousands of New Yorkers who couldn't dig their cars out in time. The mayor's response? "It was easy to move your car..." A comment that is breathtaking in its arrogance from a billionaire who has in all likelihood not had to dig a car out from the snow in decades.

What's missing here? As the NY Daily News editorial stresses this morning-the simple acknowledgement that a mistake might have been made, and not the attempt to cloak oneself with the aura of a papal infallibility that clearly this mayor doesn't possess. As the NY Times underscored this morning; "The mayor was at times curt, testy and defensive...even suggesting that New Yorkers stop "griping" about the situation." Hubris and great wealth are obviously not a great political mixture, something that the mayor has been able to effectively camouflage, at least up until now.