Friday, March 05, 2010

A Give and Take Situation

Gail Robinson, writing on the Wonkster web site and picking up on our jihad against the nefarious political uses of Mike Bloomberg's vast fortune, analyzes the mayor's "money trail." Her conclusions mirror our own-and those of Wayne Barret and Tom Robbins the two caped crusaders at the Village Voice: "Mayor Michael Bloomberg has always claimed that his billions of dollars are a kind of guarantee against corruption — a line many have been only to quick to swallow. But with Bloomberg you need to watch not who the mayor takes money from but who he gives it to. Witness the current controversy involving the mayor’s gifts to the Independence Party."

People are beginning to get the true picture of just how corrosive an influence Bloombucks can be in a supposedly democratic system-and how the mayor's own money leverages more from his fellow billionaires: "Bloomberg has made lavish use of the housekeeping loophole before giving at least $4 million to the state Republican Party housekeeping account between 2001 and 2009. And he contributed $1.2 million to the Independence Party housekeeping fund in August and October of 2008 with including a $200,000 gift the day after the City Council did his bidding and overturned the term limits law. While the other contribution to the housekeeping account are all in the few hundred dollar category, Eli Broad, a Los Angeles billionaire and prominent supporter of Bloomberg’s school program, gave the account $50,000 in September 2008."

And, of course, being a supporter of the mayor on schools means funding the Learn New York effort-and that really only meant one thing: keeping the mayor solely in charge of the school system. Once that special interest was taken care of Learn New York is set to close its doors; exposing the wholly owned subsidiary nature of the phony grass roots organization. As WNYC reported: "More than $3 million of the funds was never spent. A Learn New York spokesman says the remaining money will be returned to the donors now that the group's work is over."

So, as we have said elsewhere, it's good that the CFB is looking-after the horses have left-to close some of those barn doors that allow the wealthy to game the system. But let's not get distracted so that we ignore all of the ways that variants of Learn New York are plying their wares on the mayor's behalf-using his money at times, but also the funds from the exclusive class of billionaires that are the mayor's only true peers.

And we'll conclude-giving ourselves the last word-with the observation we made in an earlier post-graciously cited in Robinson's post: "The Bloomberg usurpation of democratic practices needs to be thoroughly exposed so that we are better armed to counteract the corrosive impact of great wealth in the city’s political system.”