Monday, March 26, 2007

Barely Managing

In this week's NY Magazine Chris Smith writes about Mayor Mike's second term doldrums and makes the following prescient observation: "What's truly worrisome is that the mayor's recent troubles are rooted in substance, not style. Management expertise is at the core of why he was hired in the first place...And it is managerial stumbles that are threatening to turn his second term into a dud."

What happens when the core rationale collapses, is that the other aspects of a mayor's personality, in Mike's case an inability to articulate any public sense of caring, begin to really grate on New Yorkers. This is why we have cautioned Speaker Quinn to not recklessly ride the Bloomberg wave.

One point on Smith's observation on the potential threat to mayoral control of the schools. He points out that the repeated managerial overhauls, three restructurings in five years, have left "widespread dissatisfaction with Bloomberg's changes..." Smith worries, however, that this dissatisfaction is leading to a nostalgia for the old corrupt Board of Ed; "But allowing the schools to fall back under the sway of entrenched interests would be disastrous..."

Huh? Smith doesn't tell us why the current system is any better than the old "corrupt" BoE, and falls back on the "entrenched interests" boogeyman to make the rather invidious comparison. After all, the "progressives" didn't like the so-called spoils system but historians will point out that the elitist progressives not only couldn't care less about the needs of real people, they also didn't run government all that better.

Still, the appeal of the "above special interests" continues to beguile our bien pensants, even while the evidence of managerial incompetence piles up. As it does our philosopher king will be transformed into the Wizard Of Oz.