October 23, 2008

Blooomberg's Power Grab Proves Him Unfit to Rule

Today the City Council of NYC voted to give billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg (and incidentally themselves) a free shot at a third term in spite of the fact that New York City law limits him (and them) to two terms.

This raises sharply a question I’ll frame as fitness to rule. Bloomberg’s power grab has been rationalized with the assertion that he is uniquely competent to steer the ship of city through the troubled waters of the ongoing economic meltdown.

That’s a big fat lie, and one that is readily refuted.

First, Bloomberg’s backers cite his expertise in practical economics. Well, this bozo heads the world’s premier economic news service. He has easy access to information that the average citizen of NYC will never get to see, and he was blindsided by the crisis as surely as George W. Bush and the financial establishment. In fact, the ballyhooed letter signed by 30 prominent “municipal leaders” to tout his third term bid included the names of the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Oh, well, if they want him around for another four years, it must be okay…

Second, while he deserves some credit for keeping the city bureaucracy running smoothly, Bloomberg also spent the last seven years pushing policies that have made NYC more vulnerable to the crisis which is engulfing us. He promoted financial and real estate speculation; he gentrified the entire island of Manhattan and chunks of the other boroughs with luxury condos and rentals; he continued the erosion of manufacturing, costing New York a broader economic base and many unskilled and semi-skilled jobs; he hammered upper level unionized workers, like teachers, transit workers, firemen, who comprise the social and economic backbone of NYC; he worked to turn the city into a tourist destination for an global elite who aren’t going to be able to afford luxury stays in the Big Apple in the middle of a worldwide smashup either.

Third, with this move Michael Bloomberg shows his deep contempt for democracy and the right of New Yorkers to choose our leaders. You can argue the merits and problems of the two-term limit for elected officials all day and all night, but it was passed by New York City voters—twice—in referendums in the 1990s. Now Bloomberg has made an end run around that decision. Worse, his accomplices in the City Council voted down a resolution which would have put the question before the electorate again in a special referendum and instead arrogated to themselves the right to kick New Yorkers' decisions to the curb. This is a guy who switched from Democrat to Republican to find a ballot line the first time he ran and now calls himself an “independent,” a guy who used his fortune to buy his way into office in two straight campaigns. spending $85 million on his 2005 re-election alone. That’s a million more than John McCain has collected in public funding for his whole campaign since the Republican National Convention!

We’d better lose the idea that anybody’s going to ride in on a white horse to save working people in this growing mess, let alone some billionaire who thinks that following the rules is for peons like us. We've got to organize ourselves to stop the rich from sticking us with the whole tab, to support and defend each other, to develop new methods of survival and solidarity, to start to design a NYC that serves our interests and betters our lives, not those of the high and mighty. They are not fit to rule.

1 comment:

libhom said...

Bloomberg's purchases of elections with his massive personal fortune also proves him unfit to hold public office.