Friday, 3 January 2014

Bloombergians surprised that we were sick of him ages ago

It must have come as quite a shock to the Bloomberg set to hear their don slammed and discredited at the de Blasio inauguration Wednesday. After all, Republican mayors have been in charge here for 16 years even as the city roundly repudiated the national party at every opportunity. (The island that experienced 9/11 rejected Bush’s re-election in 2004 by 81%.)

But it was easy to think that while New York was a liberal place with all sorts of cool black and Hispanic people living in it, the rich white guys were always going to be in charge and continue to do things pretty much their way. Right up to the first primary vote in September, they could have imagined that Bloomberg’s heir apparent, Christine Quinn, was going to preside over the transition to more-of-the-same-but-lesbian.

As it turned out, not even the LBGs stuck with Quinn, joining instead the sudden bandwagon for Bill de Blasio and his biracial family. And expectations are high for the new mayor who promptly repeated in his inaugural address that he was dead serious about addressing the city’s gross inequality.

We’ll see. Some of de Blasio’s early appointments have raised eyebrows (like bringing back stop-and-frisk originator Bill Bratton as police chief). But the symbolism at the affair was not lost on anyone. Union leaders were prominent in the power seats near the new mayor, especially including teachers’ union president, Michael Mulgrew—a stark contrast from the Bloomberg years when public school teachers were systematically excoriated as the enemies of little children, also education.

De Blasio even named a former teacher and principal, Carmen FariƱa, to be his schools commissioner, another departure from the Bloomberg record of putting his millionaire business buddies in charge. (The next-to-last, Joel Klein, now earns some obscene number of millions per year working for Rupert Murdoch. Not to mention the laughably horrific Cathie Black debacle.)

Denis Hamill outlined in the Daily News what de Blasio has to face from the legacy of Bloomberg’s 1%-er administration:

The January cold at his inauguration on New Year’s Day also reminded you that de Blasio was adopting the largest number of homeless the city has ever known, with 22,000 children in shelters [out of 50,000 total homeless]— a shameful legacy of Bloomberg’s New York. Bloomberg, who had as much sympathy for the common working man as a robber baron, left his pro-labor de Blasio 153 unsettled municipal contracts to negotiate.

According to a story in The Nation, 1% of New Yorkers earned 39% of the city’s total city income in 2012, compared with 27% in 2002, when Bloomberg took office. Meanwhile, Forbes reported that Bloomberg’s personal wealth grew from $5 billion in 2005 to $27 billion in 2012.

Bloomberg hasn’t been bad for public health, and probably only an arrogant prick with more money than god could have rammed through the smoke-free bars measure back when nobody dared to do that. Same for the bike lanes and other amenities that do make the city more liveable.

But liveable for whom? Runaway housing prices are destroying the few working class neighborhoods left and not just in Manhattan but more and more refuge zones in the outer boroughs. Bloomberg’s departure has revealed the existence of a very disgruntled populace that couldn’t get through to him ($25 billion creates a large moat) but was dead sick of his rule. If he weren’t a plutocrat, he would have been ousted a long time ago.

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