|By A.D. Freudenheim||
30 October 2005
A week from Tuesday, New York Citys voters will head for their local polling stations, to choose a mayor (among other positions); those of us who will be out-of-town that day have hopefully arranged for an absentee ballot. Either way, for anyone at all in touch with the news , the sense that incumbent Michael Bloomberg will win is probably overwhelming.
Therefore, let me get to the point: this is a shame. I cannot, in good conscience, endorse Mayor Bloomberg for re-election even as I must also acknowledge that there are no other, better options available, and even as I agree that in many ways the City of New York is well-run and well-managed. So, why not Bloomberg? I have three overarching reasons:
Issue one: Mayor Bloomberg has embarked on a number of fiscal follies, at the taxpayers expense, which expose long-term economic and planning policy problems not to mention a lack of strategic thinking. These center on three sub-issues:
Hey, buddy: this isnt your land, its our land; you want to undersell your own property, thats fine but ours is worth market value, in case you didnt notice. Bottom line? Public funds should not be spent (or written off) for purely private gain.
Issue two: has anyone watched the World Trade Center developments in a while? Pathetic! Now, lets be clear: the redevelopment of this site does not rest completely within Mayor Bloombergs control. The land is owned by the Port Authority of New York, and Governor Pataki is more involved in its mis-management than anyone. Still, Bloomberg shares some of the blame not only for the horrible, botched design plans (have you seen this ugly building?) but for failing to stand up for the very values that were attacked on 11 September 2001, and which deserve to be defended, the most important of which is: freedom of speech. The Mayor is, by most accounts, incredibly generous with his own money, supporting cultural organizations around the City. Thats great! But when he had an opportunity to defend the Drawing Center, before it was kicked out of the redevelopment plans he failed. When he had an opportunity to defend the International Freedom Center before the Governor bounced it, too he failed. Hey, buddy: how about a little back-bone! George Pataki isnt even running again! You cant challenge a lame-duck governor, in order to safeguard some semblance of freedom of speech and impress all your loud-mouthed, free-speech-lovin New York constituents?!
No, Mayor Bloomberg cannot defend free speech rights, it seems or a number of other important rights, either. Issue three: he may be liberal, but he isnt liberal enough. Our liberal Republican mayor shilled for arch-conservative President Bush, encouraging Bush to hold the GOP convention here in New York ... and then supporting whole-heartedly all plans to prevent true public protest against Bushs policies, in the name of security, of course. While the New York Police Department cracked down on our free speech rights, the Mayor smiled and posed with the President clueless, it seems, that most of New York voted against Bush (and for good reason, too). Or, how about: Bloomberg, former Democrat turned liberal Republican, professes to support gay marriage ... while pointedly failing to endorse a change in New Yorks laws that would permit gay marriage. Or, to go back to the first issue, Mayor Bloomberg seems willing to provide public subsidies to millionaire sports team owners to build different stadia ... but what about subsidies to help maintain some semblance of affordable housing in the five boroughs? Funny how one can be so in favor of allowing market forces to work freely, while showing a willingness to suspend market forces when its good business for the already-wealthy.
If not Mayor Bloomberg, for whom should one vote? Im not sure it matters. Anyone But Bloomberg, because the Mayor who is virtually assured a victory deserves to win by the smallest margin possible if he is to be re-elected. Candidate Freddy Ferrer has run one of the more lack-luster campaigns in recent memory; shocking, considering the scope of issues on which Bloomberg is vulnerable; I cannot endorse Ferrer, either.
Dark-horse candidate Anthony Weiner lost in the primary but a write-in vote for Weiner would help send a message of support to those candidates like him who are willing to challenge the status quo, and to the entrenched, sad Democratic Party establishment that prefers safe losing best like Ferrer to more energized losers like Weiner. Similarly, a vote for any one of the smaller parties on the ballot the Green Party, the Libertarian Party would also help, by reinforcing the importance of having other political perspectives reflected in our system.
To Bloomberg, or not to Bloomberg? It is barely a question. I keep saying that Mayor Bloomberg will win, and I shouldnt, because we have the power to change the outcome. Its in our hands, citizens. All we have to do is show up at the polls, and pull the right lever.
Copyright 2005, by A.D. Freudenheim.
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