Monday, May 04, 2009

Mayor Lockjaw

Mike Bloomberg, having already suborned the will of the people on term limits through the sheer weight of his financial reach, is now adding insult to injury by staying away from any debate with his putative mayoral rivals-while arrogantly spending millions of dollars on advertising that would insult the intelligence of the average voter, if there was any degree of countervailing information disseminated by a media truth squad.

Enter Errol Louis, who is rightfully offended by this wilted Rose Garden strategy. As Louis points out: "Our city's civic machinery, in an advanced state of neglect and disrepair, recently got a welcome boost from a group of civic activists demanding that all serious candidates for mayor publicly debate the issues of greatest concern to middle-income working New Yorkers within a month."

So Bloomberg, genuinely proud of his great mayoral accomplishments, jumped at the chance to style before the debate audience, right? Well, no he didn't-too busy spending his money in an attempt to gull New Yorkers into believing that he's a job creating juggernaut. No mention in these packaged bromides of the job loss that the city has already experienced under his watchful eye.

As CNN has reported: 'New York City's economy is on track to lose almost twice the amount of private-sector jobs than originally expected, according to an unemployment forecast Wednesday. The job loss is a result of recent developments in the ongoing financial crisis. Up to 165,000 private-sector jobs could be lost over the next two years, according to the report from the city's chief economist and released by the city comptroller's office. Of those, 21 percent -- or 35,000 -- are expected to come from the financial sector."

Now we aren't blaming the mayor for the fiscal meltdown-and the concomitant employment loss down at Wall Street and Broad; but we are saying that the mayor's tax, spend and regulate policies has driven jobs and business out of New York-while Bloomberg was overly reliant on his financial sector cash cow. But with the cow no longer giving milk, the mayor is left to his job creating fantasies-fueled by the only economic engine that hasn't been hurt by the crisis; his own great wealth.

No mention either of how his latest sales tax hike will continue the trend that began when he raised the commercial real estate tax in 2002. The only real job creation we can expect is in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida-low tax environs where the city's enterprising immigrant supermarket owners are relocating their businesses to. The city's poor business climate is something that isn't debatable.

So, of course, Mike shuns debate, and Louis rightfully reminds us of the tawdry sequence in the 2005 mayoral race, when Bloomberg ducked an Apollo debate because of a bogus terrorism threat: "This is hardly the first time Bloomberg has tried to game the system for political gain. In 2005, he stalled his Democratic opponent, Fernando Ferrer, and consented to only two debates barely a week before Election Day. And then, in an act of official fraud that still boggles the mind, Bloomberg at the last minute announced a one-of-a-kind terrorist threat would prevent him from attending the first debate, which took place on Oct. 30, 2005, at the Apollo Theater with an empty lectern where Bloomberg was supposed to be. Nothing ever came of the "threat."

Or, we're sorry to say, of his arrogant shuck and duck; since his well oiled money machine blew out the hapless Ferrer by a wide margin. This time, however, he's taking no chances, and has hired Freddy's former buddies to shill for his multi-million dollar Kabuki act:

"Wolfson, {that former Democratic pit bull} who is now on Bloomberg's campaign payroll, has yet to weigh in on his wealthy new client's refusal to debate. We also have yet to hear from Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who once worked for Ferrer as executive director of the Drum Major Institute, a think tank that argues for more debate on issues that affect New York's middle class. Batista Schlesinger, like Wolfson, is now a paid Bloomberg campaign operative - a move she told skeptics would advance working-class issues. Surely a robust debate would help that agenda."

What we are waiting for-with bated breath-is the outraged editorial voices, you know, the ones that hand out Knucklehead Awards and give out the phone numbers of elected officials who offend their sense of the public interest. We're waiting for these folks to condemn, in no uncertain terms, the refusal of the mayor to engage in a vigorous public debate. After all, these same voices claimed that he was Mr. Indispensable in our current crisis, so shouldn't they demand that their boy man up?

Our guess? Our breath will have to remain bated. Bloomberg's arrogance will continue to echo in the silence of his editorial amen choir; and his job creation fantasies will continue with the end result being that it will only be the voting public that gets jobbed. Errol Louis earns the last word: "The mayor's reelection strategy seems to be one of purchasing silence and obedience - first from Democratic operatives, civic activists and the media, and ultimately from the voting public. "At least keep up the facade of an election occurring rather than rubbing our faces in what it really is - buying a third term," wrote one debate petition signer. How sad that things have come to this."