Monday, March 23, 2009

Lockjaw Mike

As the NY Daily News' Adam Lisberg reports, our wealthy overseer Mike Bloomberg has been as quiet as a church mouse over the entire MTA debacle-even while he can be found pontificating on the country's financial woes on national television: "Every bus and subway rider in New York is about to get punched in the wallet, and all Mayor Bloomberg is doing is standing around watching."

Why the silence? Well, given his rapport with Albany pols, his sideline silence may be the best hope for straphangers looking for relief: "This might be the perfect time for a bully pulpit-loving mayor to try twisting arms in Albany to save MTA riders - except he's still wiping egg off his face from the last time he tried it. The congestion pricing debacle - when Bloomberg wrestled his version of a toll plan through the City Council but got outmaneuvered in the Assembly - left him burned, say people who work with him. So when Richard Ravitch proposed a detailed, thoughtful plan for saving the MTA in December, the mayor figured the best thing he could do was stay out of its way."

And if he's re-elected, we can expect that anything he tries to get out of the state capitol will be mostly dead on arrival: "A broad coalition of unions, business groups and good-government organizations is pressing the Senate Democrats to approve the tolls-and-tax package - but Bloomberg, who works with all of them, is content to let them do the lifting. His political team knows that Bloomberg has little hope of peeling away recalcitrant Democrats, after giving $500,000 to Republicans last year in their failed attempt to keep the Senate in GOP hands."

And what does the this billionaire juggernaut do when faced with the impasse? Punt! And place the onus on the Democratic Party: "But so far, he hasn't used that $500,000 as leverage on the GOP either. For half a million bucks, a mayor ought to be able to at least buy a few upstate Republicans to vote for tolls on bridges they never drive, right? Bloomberg ducked a question about that last week, saying, "It's going to have to be the Democratic senators to come together with the Democratic Assembly people and a Democratic governor and solve this problem."

So, tell us again, why this is guy Mr. Indispensable, someone whose elevation to a third term is needed to address the fiscal challenges of out time? This doesn't bode well for Bloomberg's fight over mayoral control-oh, we forgot, he's shucking and ducking on that one as well-hiding behind a coalition funded by his own money muscle and the public largess that he controls.