Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Air Bloomberg

It is refreshing to see conscientious reporting on the mayor's sojourns. We'll begin with the WSJ's account of the flight patterns of Air Bloomberg: "Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who often takes weekend trips outside the city, has generated controversy by declining to say where he's going. He recently came under fire for being away at the start of the December blizzard that snarled the city for days. Clues to his travels can be found in flight records of Mr. Bloomberg's fleet of private planes, operated by his private financial-information company, Bloomberg LP, and also used by the mayor."

And Mike is a frequent flier-even though he doesn't need the free miles: "The planes flew to Bermuda, where Mr. Bloomberg owns a home, 16 times last year and 54 times in all from 2007 through 2010, according to Federal Aviation Administration records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. On 41 trips, the aircraft left New York and spent all or part of the weekend in Bermuda. One overnight trip there coincided with the December blizzard, according to flight records."

And what would be Air Bloomberg without an air of arrogance? "The records also show that the Bloomberg fleet has been the single largest user of scarce slots allocated to private aircraft at La Guardia airport. The flights continued apace even after the mayor two years ago called for curbs on small commercial planes at La Guardia and other area airports to reduce congestion."

Fancy that-another example of how the mayor views congestion reduction for thee, but not for me. Here is not someone who practices what he preaches-not unexpected from someone with one of the world's largest carbon footprints. And when the blizzard was bearing down on the city, the mayor barely made it back: "Flight records show that a Dassault Falcon 900 jet operated by Bloomberg Services left La Guardia Airport for Bermuda at 9:02 am on Christmas Day, then returned the next day at 2:49 pm, as the storm was growing fierce. The Bloomberg jet was the last private plane to land at La Guardia that day, according to the FAA records. The mayor appeared at a storm-related press conference shortly afterward."

CM Vallone, who has taken the lead on ankle braceleting the mayor, appears to be back peddling some now: "City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., who endorsed the mayor's re-election, has been one of the most vocal critics of the city's response to the post-Christmas blizzard. He is examining legislation that would require the mayor to notify the city clerk whenever he leaves the city. The legislation wouldn't require the mayor to disclose his exact location. "I'm working with (the) administration now to possibly get this resolved without legislation," Mr. Vallone said, "but am prepared to move forward if that can't be done."

In our view, introduce the legislation first, and don't get into a weaselly compromise like the one Scott Stringer got into over Columbus Avenue bike lanes. The people have a right to be informed, and it is beyond ridiculous for the mayor's privacy to be more sacrosanct than the president of the United States. It is high time for the mayor to be held to a simple standard that all mayors have been held too-if he wants his privacy, there's the door.