This past weekend found Michael Bloomberg in the city. Usually he spends weekends at his Bermuda mansion, flying out of the city Friday mornings so he’s on the golf course by 2:30, but there is that pro-forma election to be won tomorrow and the last of the checks to be written. What, you’ve never seen a photo of him on his private jet or on the private links? You probably never will, unless his plane crashes or some disaster strikes the city on a Saturday. It’s only one of the open secrets of his life; god knows what the closed secrets are. The last report had him spending over $85,000,000 for his re-election; I wonder what the final tally will be, with all the staff bonuses (why would anybody have volunteered?), and promises of future rewards for his allies. Why he’s spending so much against a hapless, colorless opponent is anybody’s guess. Turn-out promises to be light. There’s no question he’ll be the new mayor. A third term is generally a graveyard (cf Koch, Cuomo, Pataki), but Bloomberg obviously believes his money will give him immortality, and it just might, politically-speaking. The media barons, his friends and peers “Mort, Rupert, and Arthur” (as he calls them) have made sure there’s no real press oversight of his actions, and the conflicts of interest, follies, and scandals of his administration.
Although surprisingly inarticulate, in fact, a dead fish of a speaker, Bloomberg gets his message out: his rule is rational, technocratic, & unencumbered by special interests.* He’s a benevolent Medici, patron of the arts, friend of bicycle-riders, scourge of fast foods. Compared to the paranoid, police-bunker city of Ghouliani, with goon-hacks like Bernie Kerik serving the bully-in-chief, City Bloomberg is a much better place. I like a lot of his quality-of-life policies. It’s the larger policies that are a mistake: test-based education; developer-oriented growth; limiting our economic base to the FIRE industries and tourism; subsidizing wealthy sports franchises like the Yankees with public billions. Basically, it’s all about the top-down rule of money. (A certain color of money too, for even Ghouliani had more African American and Hispanic members of his administration.) Many people would argue that there’s no other way to rule/run the city; they’ll be voting for Bloomberg tomorrow. Me? My democracy can’t be bought for that mess of pottage.
* I mean, except for those special ruling class interests. He’s Wall Street’s boy through and through. Few remember that he went to court to stop a City Council effort to prevent predatory sub-prime loans in the city. He opposes living-wages; supports the continued destruction of manufacturing jobs; refuses to tax all that pirated wealth out there and instead amps up the fees and sales taxes, once again extracting money from those least able to afford it.