Friday, December 31, 2010

The Bloomberg Blizzard

In our last post, we talked about how the mayor's erstwhile allies are jumping off of his bandwagon-something that is underscored by this report from Staten Island, a Bloomberg electoral stronghold: "The Bloomberg Blizzard -- it's a gift that may keep on giving. The post-Christmas snowstorm that has turned into a political firestorm will be part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's resume, whether he likes it or not, political pundits say...After all, it was Bloomberg who pushed to change the law so he could run for a third term, claiming he is uniquely qualified to steer the city through uniquely bad fiscal times. It was Bloomberg who touts his management skills and always speaks about "accountability."

Not looking so unique now, is he? Unless it is uniquely inept: "This is much more than a snowstorm. We may be looking back at this in the same way we look at Lindsay 40 years ago," said City Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-Mid-Island/Brooklyn), referring to the infamous February 1969 storm that nearly toppled the former mayor and forever marred his reputation..."The level of venom exceeds the term-limit debacle because this is personal. This is about your children, your wife, it is about your life and how it was impacted," Oddo said."

CM Ignizio, another Republican and occasional ally of the mayor, echoes his colleagues comments: "But Mother Nature may have provided "the straw that breaks the mayor's back," said City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore). "This one goes to the very heart of the administration. This is the man who said he was uniquely qualified for this job, that he is a great manager," Ignizio said. "How do you say that and then fail miserably in that aspect?"

No one, however, can top CM Vallone for his comparison of the mayor to Saddam Hussein's PR fabulist: "Unlike other scandals, the Bloomberg Blizzard has prompted some of the mayor's most ardent supporters to take swipes at him, and pushed others into full attack mode. Perhaps the defining moment came when Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens), a frequent detractor, called Bloomberg "Baghdad Bob" during a Monday radio show. Vallone was referring to the nickname given to Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein's minister of public information, during the Gulf War in 2003, who often told the press the Iraqi army was invincible even as it was being routed from the country."

What the Bloomberg Blizzard does, in our view, is to solidify the impression that the mayor is an out of touch Manhattan elitist-but one whose lack of caring for the common folks is now being seen through a very personal lens. What is true of the Staten Island impression, holds for all of the outer boroughs: "Still, the images of mountains of snow clogging Island streets can leave a lasting impression -- especially since the perception in the borough has been that Bloomberg is a Manhattan elitist who doesn't understand the plight of the huddled masses. The best hope for the Island is that he not only acknowledges that, but tries his best to change it by really tackling issues in the borough. "I think the pressure is on now to steer this ship away from those of us who think he is a Manhattan-centric, outer-borough-phobic mayor," Ignizio said."

What the Bloomberg Blizzard of 2010 does, is to begin the mayor's down ward trajectory on the proverbial slippery slope. From now on, much of what transpires, and much of what the mayor says, will be sifted through an extremely skeptical lens. A reputation built on media hype and an unheard of expenditure of hundreds of millions of campaign dollars-now lays in tatters. Our Humpty Dumpty analogy resonates with the view from the most outer of outer boroughs.