Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bloomberg Talking the Walk

It's nice to know that the mayor has such a decent handle on how safe it is for women to walk the streets of areas in NYC that he himself would never be caught dead in after hours. As the NY Daily News reported yesterday, the city has never been safer for women-except that it seems that not all women see things the mayor old Out of Touch Bloomberg does: "Mayor Bloomberg crowed Monday that city streets have never been safer - day or night - for women, but some skeptical New York ladies suggested he take a walk in their neighborhoods. At a tour of a Queens school Monday night, the mayor proudly declared: "People don't remember 10 years ago. They've really already forgotten when you couldn't walk the streets. Today, a woman could walk in virtually every neighborhood in this city during the day and not look over her shoulder, and most neighborhoods at night," he added."

Talking right out of his bubble, it appears: "But Bronx resident Carla Banks, 31, said living on the upper East Side has left the mayor clueless about what women face. "Bloomberg's trippin'," said Banks, of Kingsbridge Heights. "This isn't the upper East Side. He's definitely out of touch with what women deal with in the Bronx."Her pal Devon Irving, 29, said he should take a solo stroll down her block. "I know the mayor doesn't have to worry about walking home from the subway, but I sure do," said Irving, of Mount Eden. "If he thinks we don't still have to watch our backs, he's crazy."

Wow. We bet that's the first time that Mayor Mike has been accused of, "trippin'" in print-and the problem is one of taking sycophancy seriously: "The mayor boasted about female safety after Rabbi Yaakov Bender, the dean of Yeshiva Darchei Torah School in Far Rockaway, thanked him and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly for keeping the streets safe. But at a community meeting the mayor later attended in Far Rockaway, Beverly Champion didn't second the sentiment. She complained to the mayor about crime in housing developments, saying, "I've lived here all my life, and I've never seen it as worse." Champion said she doesn't feel safe walking around with her purse and laughed when told what the mayor had said earlier about crime. "He's not telling the truth," she said. "He just takes the reports that they give him, but he doesn't know."

But when it comes to living in his own world-a Bermuda high that possibly warps good judgment-the mayor is definitely on a roll. At the same Far Rockaway meeting, the mayor was confronted-perhaps for the first time-with popular discontent about the unpopular and inane bike lanes: "Meanwhile, at the community meeting, a crowd of 200 booed the mayor and the Department of Transportation Queens Borough commissioner, Maura McCarthy, when they spoke of planned bike lanes for the Rockaways."

Bloomberg's disconnected response was all telling: "Bloomberg later admitted that the lanes drew strong reactions from supporters and opponents. "Bicycle lanes are one of the more controversial things, obviously," he said. "Some people love them and some people hate them. ... It's probably true that in many of these cases we could do a better job, and we're going to try to do that."

A better job at what? Actually allowing a proposed bike lane to go through some form of meaningful environmental review? Somehow we don't think that's what Mike means-but the folks really don't like these elite experiments foisted on their neighborhoods unilaterally. The public debate, we believe, is rather one sided-with the advocates at Transportation Alternatives representing a small cohort of anti-car zealots unrepresentative of the majority sentiment.

So, if Mayor Mike feels he could be doing a better job here-a righteous view that could be applicable to a wide range of public policies-he should start with adopting the proposal of CMs Oddo and Ignizio that would establish a full review of any proposed bike lanes in a neighborhood. If such a process was established we would soon find out how opinion on this issue really stacks up-the last thing that the mayor truly wishes to find out.

No, Bloomberg would rather rule by fiat in his Father Knows Best world. More and more it appears that this third term will continue to expose just how big a mistake it was for Mike Bloomberg to usurp a third term-and for that slim majority of NYC voters to give him his unfortunate wish.