Our former mayor, the garrulous Ed Koch, is given a chance to wax silly in yesterday's NY Post. In reading the Koch tribute to Mayor Mike, you'd think that the ex-mayor had a hidden paternity that he's kept from us all these years: "Over the past 6½ years, Bloomberg has redefined the role of a big-city mayor. New York mayors have often been larger than life, but none has combined such broad-based business acumen with true political independence. These qualities helped him lead the city back from the dark months that followed 9/11. Back then, as many of us remember, we heard doomsday predictions that jobs and businesses would flee. It didn't happen! That was Mike Bloomberg."
This is all a bit much-threatening to give hyperbole an even worse reputation: "Record budget deficits became record budget surpluses. That was Mike Bloomberg. Crime dropped to historic lows - and race relations improved. That was Mike Bloomberg. The schools - so long plagued by dysfunction and patronage - made amazing progress. That was Mike Bloomberg."
Where to begin? Koch has long ago lost all resemblance of any real acumen-lost in the bitter disregard of the important role that Bloomberg's predecessor played in the city's resurgence-a bitterness that doesn't allow him to credit Rudy on crime, a Herculean feat that allowed Bloomberg to simply paint by the numbers. Same for race relations-because, after all of the hard work and confrontations had ended, Mike Bloomberg simply had to lower his voice and manage the results of Giuliani's efforts; on welfare reform as well as crime.
But what about the budget surplus? Koch doesn't mention the record setting-and small business killing-tax increases; nor does he address, for how can he with his trained liberal incapacity, the failure of Bloomberg to tackle the hard job of making government less mammoth and more efficient. His panegyric to mayoral control of the schools is risable-a product of believing, as he recently said, that the NY Times is the paper of record.
So it appears that our entire permanent government-the power elite of real estate and publishing billionaires, along with a slavish and self serving political class, are lined up to superimpose their own interest-and supposed wisdom-over that of their inferiors, the shlubs that make up the great democratic unwashed. Koch's discussion of a legislative over ride is emblematic of this: "Voters adopted term limits in 1993 and re-affirmed them in 1996. Should this stop the City Council from extending term limits from two terms to three, which the City Charter gives it the legal authority to do? I don't believe so. Therefore, why not hold a referendum in a special election in February?...It makes sense on paper, but it would be no more representative of the public than allowing the council to decide the issue itself."
Save all of the democratic theory about direct versus representative democracy. This is a specific issue where the voters, in rather large majorities, got a chance to let the pols know exactly where they stand. For Ed Koch to say that a council vote is no less democratic on term limits is indicative of a tired mind that has long ago lost it's sharpness. To answer the age old Koch question, "How'm I doing?"-Not very well it seems.