Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marie Bloomberg

Mike Bloomberg's charm was never his strong suit, and now the mayor's renowned superciliousness may be reaching epic proportion; In classic Marie Antoinette style, the mayor is demonstrating an almost complete disdain for the suffering of New Yorkers during this severe economic meltdown. As the NY Times reports: "One city lawmaker called it Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s “Let them eat cake” attitude...At a news conference, Mr. Bloomberg described the rebates as “up in the air.” Asked what he would tell homeowners who have been depending on the money to pay bills or buy holiday gifts, he responded: “Plan for the worst, and hope for the best.” When pressed, the mayor said: “I just answered your question. You just don’t want the answer.”

Call it an Annie Hall, "La Di Da," moment. The NY Post weighs in as well; and with a number of city councillors filing a lawsuit, there's gonna be a heightened focus on the mayor's attitude. When pressed about his plan to lower the thermostats in city buildings the mayor responded in a cavalier fashion that his patented: "During another part of his press conference, the mayor said he's going to order thermostats lowered in city buildings. "It's hardly a big deal to keep everybody working," he said. "Wear a sweater if you're chilly."

This was all on top of threatened city layoffs. As the NY Daily News points out, cataloguing the mayor's callous responses: "Call him Mayor Doomsberg. In rat-a-tat fashion on Wednesday, Hizzoner:

-Warned city workers they are in danger of being laid off.

-Defiantly told homeowners not to count on property tax rebates.

-Ordered city thermostats turned down as temperatures hovered near freezing."

The mayor's view? "You're trying to plan, if you're a city worker, whether you're going to have a job. You have to start worrying about that and plan," Bloomberg said. "There's an awful lot of the 300,000 municipal employees who have got to start worrying about their jobs." And they called Don Rickels, "Mr. Warmth."

All of which has started speculation that the mayor's insensitivity isn't gonna serve him well as we head into a new election cycle of his own design. The Times captures this: "The mayor has argued that the city cannot afford the rebates this year. Still, Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks left people in the political world scratching their heads, with some accusing him of profound insensitivity to those who lack fat bank accounts, especially as job losses and foreclosures mount in the city."

Lew Fidler rails on the mayor-a portend of things to come: “It’s the height of arrogance and insensitivity,” said Councilman Lewis A. Fidler of Brooklyn, who also said that Mr. Bloomberg had a “Let them eat cake” attitude toward the homeowners. “They look at what does this mean to someone on the Upper East Side or Central Park West and say, $400, so what?” Mr. Fidler said. “I’m looking at it from what it means to Mrs. Goldstein, a 72-year-old senior in my district who lives on Social Security and is counting on that money,” he added, using a hypothetical example."

In our view, Mike Bloomberg may not be the best kind of leader as we enter a real "feel your pain" era: "The mayor’s comments recall previous remarks that have left him seeming out of touch with those he governs. When residents complained that the city was issuing parking tickets after a snowstorm in 2007, the mayor — who typically takes the subway or a chauffeured sport utility vehicle to work — suggested that New Yorkers stop “griping.” About crowded subways, he has said: “So you stand next to people. Get real. This is New York.” This year, responding to complaints that black rubber mats and other playground equipment get dangerously hot in the summer, the mayor said: “If it’s hot, don’t sit on it. Air-conditioning the slide is not something we can afford to do.”

Now don't get us wrong; straight talk is often both necessary and desirable during a crisis of this proportion. However, delivering the bad news takes a degree of skill and empathy that Bloomberg simply doesn't have. And when you try to illegally withhold needed holiday cash from suffering citizens, it isn't the best idea to show do so with such boorishness.

Mike Bloomberg is being severely challenged; and he has never reacted well when this happens: "But it also appears that Mr. Bloomberg is irritated by a newly aggressive City Council, which was deeply divided over his move last month to push through legislation allowing him to seek a third term. One person close to the mayor, who insisted on anonymity to avoid revealing private conversations with Mr. Bloomberg, said the mayor was especially irked that four Council members went to court on Tuesday to try to compel the administration to issue the rebates immediately. Richard D. Emery, a civil rights and election lawyer, said he was dumbfounded by the mayor’s stalling in sending out checks he has no legal authority to cancel. “The pattern of Bloomberg arrogance is reaching frightening proportions,” he said. “The impetuousness is kind of scary.”

So, as we have said, here, here and here, Mike Bloomberg's on a political slippery slope that originated from the moment he turned tawdry with his term limits power grab. Going from that Tammany moment into a season of tax increases and service cuts will escalate the growing disenchantment with the mayor that New Yorkers will begin to feel with Mike Bloomberg. The hand writing is on the wall; now all we need is a credible populist challenge to His Arrogance.