To Bloomberg, Or Not To Bloomberg?
By A.D. Freudenheim  

30 October 2005

A week from Tuesday, New York City’s 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:

A) There was the absurd plan to lure the 2012 Olympics to New York – organized and paid for by us, but lacking critical components that would have made such a huge investment in infrastructure of true, long-term value to New Yorkers. Does the City need more sports facilities ... or more affordable housing? Do New Yorkers need extensions of subway lines to these sports facilities ... or the creation of new lines and new services to untapped or under-served parts of the City?

B) Almost in tandem with the 2012 Olympics bid was the Mayor’s plan to get a stadium built on the West Side – by selling the City’s property development rights to a private corporation run by a millionaire (or is that billionaire?) football team owner for what one might politely call “a song.” As if public subsidies for a millionaire weren’t enough, the Bloomberg administration also didn’t seem to take into account the true, long-term impact – on the neighborhood, on the City, on transportation and access – of having football and other sports played on our fair isle. Traffic jams, parking problems, bridge-and-tunnel challenges ... none of this was adequately addressed.

C) And just when we thought we were done with the City giving the inside track to real estate developers and team owners at the taxpayers’ expense ... along comes the Brooklyn/Atlantic Rail Yards plan, which looks remarkably similar to the West Side stadium proposal – except there might be more affordable housing involved in Brooklyn.

Hey, buddy: this isn’t your land, it’s our land; you want to undersell your own property, that’s fine – but ours is worth market value, in case you didn’t 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, let’s be clear: the redevelopment of this site does not rest completely within Mayor Bloomberg’s 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. That’s 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 isn’t even running again! You can’t 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 isn’t 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 Bush’s 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 York’s 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 it’s good business for the already-wealthy.


If not Mayor Bloomberg, for whom should one vote? I’m 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 shouldn’t, because we have the power to change the outcome. It’s 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. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! Contact A. D. Freudenheim for further information.
This page is part of: The Truth As I See It.