View Full Version : Gloom For Bloomberg

May 8th, 2003, 11:42 AM
May 8, 2003

He's No Politician, Bloomberg Insists, and the Polls Agree


The prevailing political theory at City Hall goes something like this: Politics do not matter. If Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg remains true to his convictions, resists the taint of special interest groups and makes tough choices that keep the city sound, New Yorkers will appreciate and reward him.

But that theory is being severely tested as Mr. Bloomberg finds himself in what appears to be the lowest point in his 16-month mayoralty, based on a chorus of critics and the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

Last week, the mayor was rebuffed in his months-long effort to extract a commuter tax from leaders in Albany, and was forced to impose tax increases on his own constituents in its stead.

Mr. Bloomberg's relationship with the labor unions is so tense that labor experts struggle for a comparison. The strain was underscored this week by a threat from the head of the teachers' union to withdraw support for the mayor's sweeping changes to the public education system. His reorganization of the school system is also the subject of a lawsuit filed by some state legislators who originally supported him.

Advocates for the poor, who were thrilled to have an open reception from Mr. Bloomberg after years of being snubbed by Rudolph W. Giuliani's administration, are now bitterly denouncing the current mayor for excluding them from any role in key policy decisions. Business leaders, essentially Mr. Bloomberg's peers, are now privately grumbling that they detest the mayor's latest tax policies.

Yesterday, the cloud over City Hall darkened when the Quinnipiac poll was released showing that only 32 percent of New York City voters polled approve of the mayor's job performance.

The poll, coming in the wake of a six-month whirlwind of increases in taxes and transit fares and higher prices on regulated rental apartments, is Mr. Bloomberg's worst showing yet. The polls have fallen almost steadily since February 2002, when 65 percent of New Yorkers approved of the job he was doing.

In the insult-to-injury category, while 89 percent of polled New Yorkers said that Mr. Bloomberg is intelligent, only 40 percent would savor a dinner invitation with the mayor, a man who is feverishly social and sought out by a broad swath of New York society.

While 61 percent of those questioned said that the mayor had "strong leadership qualities," only 33 percent agreed that he "cares about the needs and problems of people like you," which may speak to Mr. Bloomberg's inability to communicate his broader mayoral goals.

Quinnipiac surveyed 757 registered voters in the city from April 29 to May 5. On May 2, the outlines of a plan to raise sales and income taxes became known. The margin of sampling error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

If any of this ruffles the feathers of Mr. Bloomberg — who came into office with the stated goal of "making a difference" absent any deeper political ambitions — he seems not to show it. Yesterday, during a news conference at City Hall, he sniped at a reporter who asked about the cost of a new mobile emergency command center, but let questions about the poll roll off him like a spritz of Evian at the beach.

"You got to do what's right," Mr. Bloomberg said. "And when I go home at night I can look in the mirror and say, `I stood up and I made the right decisions.' "

Mr. Bloomberg, who has said he intends to run for another term, added: "The public in the end will take a look and say, `There was somebody that made the right decision, the city's better.' And whether they want to have dinner with me or not, I don't know."

Mr. Bloomberg added that he would like to break bread with Bono, whom he met at the TriBeCa Film Festival the night before, and said he assumed that the singer shared that desire.

The fact that Mr. Bloomberg grabbed for Bono's name underscores a paradox of his tenure that has haunted him since the first day he began to make budget cuts.

The mayor's vast personal fortune led him to take the ultimate leap into public service, working for a dollar a year at one of the hardest political jobs in America. By his own account, it was another leg of his broader philanthropic vision.

His billions enabled him to run successfully for mayor and even support city programs out of his own pocket. (He has contributed millions of dollars to cultural and other city institutions.)

But his wealth has also created an intractable chasm between himself and the majority of the eight million people he serves who are now sitting by as their taxes rise, their services are cut and they are given little reason to expect an economic recovery any time soon.

"I just don't feel the mayor understands poor people," said Christine Cutchin, 75, who founded the Roundtable for Seniors, a recreational center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that is scheduled for closing in the budget cuts. When it was pointed out that every imaginable constituent was being hit in the current budget plans, she shook her head emphatically and said, "These seniors have already paid their dues."

Aides to the mayor uphold his conviction that voters will get over their angst over increased rent, property, water, cigarette and income tax bills. "He's also been at this long enough to know that polls don't measure your accomplishments," said Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary. "They measure moods. It's not personal because the people who are being polled don't know him."

But it is clear that some New Yorkers who have gotten to know the mayor, at least professionally, are also less than enamored with him. Union officials and their members are battling with the mayor over budget issues, and many of them are deeply offended that Mr. Bloomberg, in their view, has written them off as a costly distraction.

"There has been a real change of heart among the union leaders toward the mayor," said Randi Weingarten, who is head of the Municipal Labor Council and the teachers' union. "He trashes us and trashes the work force."

Advocates for the poor and downtrodden, who have been welcomed into City Hall, are now crying bait and switch. They say they are often left out of the loop or even duped regarding the administration's plans for homeless families, AIDS services and other policy matters.

"On a certain level the Giuliani administration had more integrity than the Bloomberg administration," said Charles King, the co-president of Housing Works, an AIDS advocacy group. "The Giuliani administration was pretty straightforward that they were going to do it their way without consultation with the community."

Mr. Skyler dismissed this talk. "We always welcome and solicit input, but ultimately the mayor is the one who needs to make the decisions," he said.

The press secretary was not terribly concerned with the fact that so few wanted to eat with the newly lithe mayor. "It's understandable," Mr. Skyler deadpanned. "Nobody likes to eat with somebody on a diet."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

Lightning Homer
May 8th, 2003, 01:46 PM
Hallo, Schadenfrau, wie geht's ? :)

May 8th, 2003, 02:07 PM
Schlecht, dank zu Bloomberg!

May 8th, 2003, 03:49 PM
Hallo, Blitzhomer...

I don't speak German...

May 8th, 2003, 04:11 PM
That's okay. Neither do I, really.

May 8th, 2003, 04:25 PM
I'll give some credit to the guy - we are, after all, in a terrible downturn, possibly the city's worst. Everyone's got a gripe, including me, about Bloomberg, but I think I'd still rather have a business genius in office now than some regular politician who merely panders for votes.

Dankeschön! Gute Nacht.

May 8th, 2003, 06:11 PM
I for one oppose him for several reasons. He pushed through the smoking ban in bars and clubs, a policy he had never even mentioned during the mayoral campaign. He is not aggressive enough against Pataki, who we all know has little idea of what NYC is, and Bloomberg's push for a land swap on Ground Zero has turned off many, including myself. I could go on and on, but these are the biggies.

May 8th, 2003, 06:29 PM
I agree KNIGHT. If the numbers were surplus instead of *deficit, everybody would not only be having dinner with him, but jumping into bed with him.

The 70s budget crises was handled so well, that we are still
paying interest on it. The debt was to be retired in 5 years, but now it's refinanced until 2034.

May 8th, 2003, 11:23 PM
I think mayors 15 years from now are going to be very grateful.

TLOZ Link5
May 9th, 2003, 04:47 PM
Only 15 years from now?

May 9th, 2003, 08:58 PM
Former mayor Ed Koch has thrown his voice into Bloomberg's future:

Mike will be one-term wonder, Koch predicts


Mayor Bloomberg will ultimately throw in the towel and decide to be a one-term mayor, former Mayor Ed Koch predicted yesterday.

"I don't believe he'll run for a second term," Koch told the Daily News. "He doesn't get the same visceral pleasure that I got out of being mayor or that [Rudy] Giuliani got. You hit me, I hit you back. He, who has done a wonderful job on the merits and should be praised, probably says to himself, 'I'm doing everything on the merits and they're beating me up. This is incredible.'"

Koch said he hasn't discussed the 2005 mayoral race with Bloomberg. Still, he predicted, Bloomberg eventually will conclude: "What do I need this for?"

According to a poll released Wednesday, Bloomberg's approval rating has sunk to a near-record low of 32%, a level not seen in City Hall since the dimmest days of the Dinkins administration.

The Quinnipiac University poll also found that only 40% of New York City voters think it would be fun to have dinner with the mayor.

While his poll numbers may be in the toilet, Bloomberg repeatedly has said he's going to seek reelection.

"Every mayor handles the job differently, but this mayor is running for reelection without a doubt," said Ed Skyler, Bloomberg's press secretary.

Party politics

Meanwhile, on New York 1, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe called on Bloomberg to return to his Democratic roots. He became a Republican to run for mayor.

"He was a Democrat his whole life - these Republicans have done nothing for him," McAuliffe said. "[Gov.] Pataki has abandoned this city, and the people here in New York understand it."

Bloomberg said he has no plans to switch parties, adding that it's "nice to know that Terry, who is a nonpartisan guy if there ever was one, really feels I'm doing a good job."

Then, defending his stature as a dinner guest, Bloomberg added: "And for the record, I have had dinner with Terry McAuliffe."

May 16th, 2003, 04:53 AM
May 16, 2003

Hey Mayor: Where Are Sunny Days?


MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG went to Washington Square Park yesterday, one of five people getting honorary doctorates from New York University. The university holds its graduation ceremonies in the park. On the whole, the mayor found himself treated well there, something that cannot be said about every corner of the city.

There had been talk of a possible Bloomberg protest. Some graduates, unhappy with the mayor's budget cutting, had sent out an e-mail message urging a quiet display of outrage. Stand up when he speaks, the message advised, and "visibly turn your back to him."

It might have been interesting to test how one goes about invisibly turning his back, but that's another matter. When show time came, only a few students bothered to rise and give Mr. Bloomberg the cold shoulder.

Granted, some booed him when he was introduced. But the applause was louder, albeit noticeably thinner than the ovation given moments earlier to another New Yorker receiving an honorary degree, the Yankees manager Joe Torre. That was to be expected. Mr. Torre, after all, is having a better season than the mayor.

The reason for pulling out the applause meter yesterday was Mr. Bloomberg's approval ratings, which have become so pale that they almost make anemia look healthy. Many New Yorkers seem ready to blame him for every misfortune short of the Kennedy assassination.

All but forgotten is the fact that he entered office less than a year and a half ago having been dealt the worst fiscal hand any mayor has seen in a generation. He has had to deal with huge deficits, with a governor whose idea for raising revenue is to install slot machines wherever he can, with interest groups that all seem to have the same suggestion for what to cut from the budget: the other guy's program.

Some people have even complained about Mr. Bloomberg's raising the subway fare. So much for the myth that New Yorkers are as politically sophisticated as they come. The subways are the province of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a state agency. The day may not be far off when someone insists that even the rain is the mayor's fault.

In this atmosphere, we are now witnessing what in football is called piling on, the phenomenon of five or six 300-pound men throwing themselves on top of a ball carrier who is already down.

The mayor is being clobbered, from the left and the right, and from points in between. By now, only 40 percent of New Yorkers even want to break bread with him, if a recent Quinnipiac University poll is on the mark. That really says something, when you consider that he may be the only mayor of recent vintage to show signs of being able to sit at the dinner table and last longer than 30 seconds in a conversation about topics other than himself.

ON the political right, Mr. Bloomberg is denounced for raising taxes. On the left, he is attacked for trying to cut spending. The verbiage sometimes borders on the hyperthyroidic.

A column in the conservative Wall Street Journal this week essentially accused the mayor of actively seeking to destroy the city where he made his personal fortune. Still on the right, The New York Post has beaten him up for every conceivable sin, including (gasp) playing a round of golf on the weekend, an activity that his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was allowed to do midweek on occasion without editorial opprobrium.

On the other side of the spectrum, the teachers' union brought a lawsuit charging the Bloomberg administration with racial discrimination in its choice of who will be laid off in the school system. Going the lawsuit one better, some black city employees said outright that racism guided the mayor's agenda.

As evidence, their lawyer cited plans to lay off janitors in the Police Department, who are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, instead of police officers, who are for the most part white. Somehow overlooked was the probability that most New Yorkers would prefer, with all respect, to lose a janitor before sacrificing a cop on the beat.

When all is said and done, the polite applause in Washington Square Park yesterday might have been about as good as it could get right now for Mr. Bloomberg.

For his part, the mayor pitched New York to the students as the place "where you want to be in the 21st century." He passed up a chance, though, to appeal for help in these hard times from the one group in the park that was feeling mildly rich for the first time in a long while: the graduates' tuition-paying parents.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 16th, 2003, 08:10 AM
Could Rudy run in 2005 ??
Someone told me that the job of Mayor was only restricted to two consecutive terms and that a candidate could stand for a third if he *spent at least one term out of office.

Does anyone know if this is true ?
Would Rudy consider a third term ?
And would YOU vote for him if he did ?

May 16th, 2003, 09:37 AM
Yes he can. The two-term limit is only for consecutive terms.

Just remember what Rudy did just before he left office.
He stated that the entire WTC site should be a memorial. As mayor for 8 years, he surely realized that this was economically impossible.

He also "finalized" deals to build new stadiums for the Yanks and Mets, while handing over a huge deficit to Bloomberg.

Both actions were politically motivated.

May 16th, 2003, 01:56 PM
Maybe it was because Giuliani fully expected Bloomberg to be an incompetent mayor with distorted goals who had little idea to handle a large and complicated city. In that case, Rudy has been proven right.

May 16th, 2003, 09:58 PM
Quote: from Agglomeration on 1:56 pm on May 16, 2003
Maybe it was because Giuliani fully expected Bloomberg to be an incompetent mayor with distorted goals who had little idea to handle a large and complicated city. In that case, Rudy has been proven right.

So you're saying that Guiliani advanced two proposals, one of which would have left us with WTC buildings of zero storeys, the other with additional debt to finance unneeded stadiums (both teams do well) - all to be able to say at dinner parties, "I was right."

And you are ok with this?

May 17th, 2003, 02:17 AM
No of course not. But I'm not talking about the WTC rebuilding process here. I'm saying that Bloomberg was given a tough job to handle, especially a large budget deficit, and I still think that he hasn't succeeded in handling it properly.

That said, NYC isn't the only major city (or state) coping with big fiscal crises. New York State is struggling with a $8 billion deficit, and the budget battles going on in Albany aren't helping either.

New Jersey also must deal with a $5 billion budget deficit, and Connecticut also has a large deficit, which could balloon to $2 billion next year. California is the worst, i believe, with something like $34 billion for 2003. These are tough times for everyone right now.

(Edited by Agglomeration at 2:18 am on May 17, 2003)

May 17th, 2003, 07:55 AM
But I'm not talking about the WTC rebuilding process here.
Well, in regard to your comparison of Guiliani (good) and Bloomberg (bad), I can understand your reluctance to talk about the rebuilding process. You have frequently derided Bloomberg's wish to put affordable housing on the site; you should at least address Guiliani's wish to put nothing on the site. By the way, do you think any housing on the site would be affordable, or more likely along the lines of, well Bloomberg tower?

That said, NYC isn't the only major city (or state) coping with big fiscal crises.
That's true. I was in San Jose, unemployment is 8.5%, city services have been cut. Guess what? The mayor is not popular.

Bloomberg's main campaign issue was the fiscal crisis. He stated exactly what we were facing. Many groups that were praising the new mayor's accessability when compared to Guiliani are now saying he is out of touch.

So what changed? Bloomberg? Maybe these people refused to pay attention until the pink slips went out.

June 9th, 2003, 08:49 AM
June 9, 2003

Booing Bloomberg, Cheering Pataki, and It's all in a Game Called Politics


Some people who booed Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday along the route of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade said they were angry that the subway fare had gone up. Others complained that the mayor was cutting education aid. Others were angry smokers.

Standard stuff, perhaps, but far different from the reception that Gov. George E. Pataki got as he marched up Fifth Avenue a few blocks behind the mayor. Mr. Pataki, after all, is arguably more responsible for many things Mr. Bloomberg was booed for. The governor controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which raised the transit fares. Mr. Pataki's budget proposal, which Mr. Bloomberg fought, would have forced far deeper cuts to New York City schools, had Albany lawmakers not refused to block it. And the governor signed a statewide smoking ban into law that is even tougher than the city's.

Yet Mr. Pataki was cheered wildly along the parade route.

The different reactions the two men got point to an iron truth of local politics. Mayors, who deliver day-to-day services and are constantly in the public eye, are magnets for criticism. Governors, who keep a lower profile doing dimly understood things more than 100 miles north of the city, often manage to escape the brunt of it.

"New Yorkers treat their mayors and their sports teams in the same way: they are targets for their praise and their abuse," said Mitchell Moss, the director of the Urban Research Center at New York University and an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg.

The mayor was applauded and cheered, too, but the boos were louder than usual. Mr. Bloomberg — who was heckled mercilessly by revelers outside stores like Henri Bendel and Saks Fifth Avenue, and even when he paused briefly outside St. Patrick's Cathedral — tried to make the best of it. "You get a handful of boos, and you get an awful lot of cheers," he told a television interviewer along the route.

Irene Marin, 24, shouted out that she longed for the return of Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was himself booed at National Puerto Rican Day parades when he was mayor. A mile north, Hector Retamar, 35, held a Puerto Rican flag in one hand and gave the mayor the thumbs-down sign with the other. "He's against the regular person," Mr. Retamar said.

The reaction was disheartening to some Bloomberg administration officials and advisers, who felt that Mr. Bloomberg had had a great week last week, making peace with the firefighters' union and backing away from many of his most unpopular proposed budget cuts in a bid to save city services. And it came days after he announced plans to woo the Latin Grammy Awards and other shows geared to Hispanic audiences to New York City. Mr. Bloomberg won 47 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2001, voter surveys showed.

The mayor's reception surprised some people who marched with him. "Apparently there's a lot of people who are not very happy with the decisions that have been taken," Ralph Morales, the chairman of the parade, said shortly after he finished marching with the mayor. "And he understands that he has to make some tough decisions, and this is part of his job. It goes with the job. He did get a lot of hugs and kisses along the way also."

When Mr. Pataki was asked about the cheers he got, the governor — who made the bombing in Vieques a major issue in his re-election campaign and who often addresses reporters in Spanish these days — said he was pleased.

"Well, I'm just very grateful for the tremendous friends I have in the Puerto Rican community who turned out today in large numbers," he said.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

August 1st, 2003, 01:20 AM
August 1, 2003

Mayor Aims To Ride Wave of Fiscal Recovery


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that New York City had turned the corner on its financial crisis and, after two extraordinarily painful years, appeared to be on the verge of an economic revival. His remarks sounded a theme he plans to take across the city's five boroughs as he tries to restore his embattled image.

"New York has weathered the most difficult part of our fiscal crisis," Mr. Bloomberg said in his annual presentation to the Financial Control Board, a state agency that monitors the city's fiscal health. "While we still face fiscal challenges, I believe our worst days are over."

The mayor's assessment — and the praise he received yesterday from the governor and the state and city comptrollers for managing the city through this fiscal storm — will be the foundation for a determined pitch to lift his public image as he begins the second half of his four-year term, his aides acknowledge.

"Now that the budget is passed," said William T. Cunningham, the mayor's communications director, "and we are getting reports that things seemed to have stabilized, that gives us a chance to get out of here and go to the places that this budget affects."

Mr. Bloomberg's report stood in sharp contrast to the one he offered to the board just a year ago, when he disclosed that the city was in such a dire fiscal state that he was essentially throwing out the just-adopted budget and asking his commissioners to cut an additional $1 billion in spending.

Now, through a combination of extra state and federal aid, $2.7 billion in new taxes and belt tightening by every city agency, finances have at least stabilized, he said.

"We struck a prudent balance, we think, between maintaining the quality-of-life services and a policy of paying for our own expenses rather than leaving them for our children," Mr. Bloomberg said at the board's Midtown offices.

His message appears aimed at reminding some New Yorkers why they voted for him in 2001. The central premise of his unlikely election campaign then was that New York needed a savvy businessman to lead it out of its worst fiscal crisis in at least a decade.

But the mayor has been battered in the polls, and his credentials as a Republican have suffered since he reversed a campaign promise and embraced tax increases, which he said were necessary to bail the city out.

Now, armed with a balanced budget and a four-year spending plan that anticipates large, but not insurmountable, deficits, Mr. Bloomberg appears intent on bragging about the results.

"I think it is pretty well documented that the mayor said, `You can blame me when things are bad,' " Mr. Cunningham said. "And now instead of blame, it will be recognition that the mayor was the one who made the tough choices, stayed the course and did what had to be done."

Mr. Bloomberg, whose approval rating in recent months had dropped lower than that of any mayor since the 1970's, has already started a campaign-like journey across the city, leaving behind the comforts of the Blue Room at City Hall for daily appearances at a center for the elderly, a homeowner association gathering and a Rotary club.

But Mr. Bloomberg's task ahead will be difficult. He has to win back the confidence of a broad swath of critics: conservatives who feel abandoned, business leaders who hate his reliance on taxes, homeowners who are still seething over the 18.5 percent increase in property taxes last fall, parents who want more answers about the changes to the school system, and anyone who has lost a job in the last two years. He also faces the wrath of smokers, who have turned the city's ban on smoking in restaurants and bars into an anti-Bloomberg campaign.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman who came to politics late in life, will at least be able to focus now on a topic he knows a lot about: finances. But his ability to connect with voters and to convince them that he deserves much of the credit for leading the city out of its financial plight may be the first real test of his ability to win a second term in 2005.

The report to the Financial Control Board is a required annual exercise, as the board must certify each year that the city remains essentially solvent and can therefore manage its own financial affairs. The governor, the state comptroller and the city comptroller sit on the board.

This year, as in the past, there was never really an issue of solvency for the control board to address. The crisis this year was really of a policy and politics nature — how many services to cut; how much to raise taxes, if he raised them at all; and how much to ask agencies to cut back.

But it was up to the mayor and the City Council to figure out a formula to close a budget gap of about $8 billion, an enormous amount even for a city with a $43.65 billion budget.

In particular, Alan G. Hevesi, the state comptroller, singled out the mayor for praise, saying that while not everyone could agree with all of the components of the package, it did result in a balanced budget. But he criticized a plan worked out by the mayor and the State Legislature to spend an estimated $5.1 billion over 30 years to relieve the city of about $2.5 billion worth of debt outstanding from the fiscal crisis of the mid-70's.

Mr. Hevesi also noted that it was unlikely that the mayor would deliver on his plan to pay for any raises offered to city labor unions with concessions from the workers, like a longer workweek or more flexibility in assignments.

"I don't believe that has ever happened in history," said Mr. Hevesi, referring to other mayors who have failed to get similar cost-free settlements.

Mr. Bloomberg chose not to respond to Mr. Hevesi's comments. He chuckled instead and shifted the focus to the positive, sounding as if he was giving a stump speech, even though the audience was largely made up of state and city bureaucrats.

"These past 18 months have not been an easy time for New York," he said, listing the signs, like higher Wall Street profits, that the economy is starting to turn around. "We rebounded from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and we are rebuilding. In the last months we have been forced to make difficult decisions, to not take the easy way out, but to find ways to do more with less."

Lines like these will no doubt become familiar refrains. But observers say that even with a balanced budget in hand, he has a great deal of work ahead in rebuilding his reputation with voters.

"What is the good news here?" said William B. Eimicke, a professor of public administration at Columbia University. "People are still not getting jobs, the schools are not better and the economy is not better. If I am the public, what have I won so far? He made the hard choices, but what can he tell the citizens they have gotten out of it so far? Where are we?"

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

December 22nd, 2003, 08:29 AM
December 22, 2003

Mayor Voices Few Regrets at the Midterm


As he approaches the midpoint of his term, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who over the course of two years has slalomed from a pleasant political curiosity to one of the least-popular first-term mayors in a generation, said he regretted little that he has done since taking office at one of the most difficult times in New York City's history.

In a 20-minute year-end interview in which he ranged from defiant to serene, Mr. Bloomberg denied that he was out of touch with average New Yorkers, an accusation he has faced so often it is practically his e-mail signature.

"I understand what the public wants," he said, citing safe streets and quality schools as examples of goals common to all New Yorkers. "I'm not out of touch at all." As for the painful point made in some polls that few people want to have dinner with him, he noted that no one had ever turned down an invitation.

Looking ahead to the next mayoral election, in 2005, Mr. Bloomberg said, "I will face the voters and I will say, `This is my record.' " He all but dismissed would-be challengers, saying: "How are they going to build more than 65,000 units of housing? How are they going to bring crime down more than we've brought it down? How are they going to bring more jobs into the city and get the private sector to help?

"How are they going to improve the school system," he went on, barely pausing for breath. "Where were they when we fought for control of the school system so the city could be in control of its own destiny? Those kinds of questions, when they are asked, and you compare me to them, I think you'll do very well, quite honestly."

Whether Mr. Bloomberg can improve his standing among voters in the second half of his term and gain another four years clearly depends on the strange alchemy of economics, timing and other factors that govern all outcomes in American electoral politics. But he has learned the hard way that New York voters only half meant it when they said they wanted a business executive rather than a politician to take the city's helm.

"The fact of the matter is, there are very few big problems that you can solve quickly," he said. "What I've tried to do is to take on those things that, while they may be politically difficult, are in the city's best interests. And that is the argument for a second term."

During the interview, in a second-floor conference room at City Hall, the mayor ticked off a list of his accomplishments: a reduced municipal crime rate; a telephone system designed to track city services and help New Yorkers get answers; badly needed changes in the school system; and a balanced budget that ended the worst fiscal crisis in two decades.

Acknowledging that many of his promises, including the creation of 65,000 housing units and a school system that will educate children for the 21st century, will take time, and conceding that many city residents have a less-than-sunny view of his mayoralty so far, Mr. Bloomberg said New Yorkers would need another term to see his best plans through. "I am in favor of term limits," he said, "and I think eight years is enough. But I think four years are not enough."

The vast differences between Mr. Bloomberg's first and second years may presage the challenges ahead. In his first year in office, he balanced a severely strained city budget without tax increases, welcomed to City Hall scores of groups that had been banished during the Giuliani administration and amused and beguiled New Yorkers with straight talk in a Boston twang.

Few criticized him, even when he played golf as a city budget agreement came down to the wire or was suspected of flying off to his Bermuda home for the weekend. Even City Council members, whose job description includes an unwritten clause that thou must trash the mayor, generally kept quiet.

But Mr. Bloomberg's businesslike style, coupled with his disdain for public displays of affection with constituents for the television cameras, began costing him points in the polls, and his critics began to hear pedantic lectures rather than straight talk.

He has rarely publicly trumpeted his more significant, if less scintillating, accomplishments, like profound — and cost-saving — changes in the city's procurement policies and a deal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to get more money for airport leases.

Instead, Mr. Bloomberg's face has been more more firmly fixed to some of the less popular causes he has chosen to champion, like a widespread smoking ban or a spectacularly failed attempt to bring nonpartisan elections to the city. In those battles, he had often appeared less like the city's C.E.O. and more like its strict English nanny, telling residents what is best for them and digging in, it sometimes seemed, just because he could.

"People see that he is a fighter," one city official said. "But they just don't see that he is fighting for them."

So during his second year, Mr. Bloomberg has taken some pages from his predecessors, spending lengthy days around the city; making sure he crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge often, bearing gifts for Staten Islanders; and touting his administration's accomplishments louder and more forcefully. If counterfeiters of Ferragamo bags are arrested, Mr. Bloomberg makes sure he is there to praise the effort, instead of leaving that to his police commissioner, as he indicated during the 2001 election would be his way.

His frustration, he said, lies with elected officials who let politics drive their decisions and get in the way of progress. "I want history to show," he said, "that I never walked away from a tough decision for political reasons."

Judged by private-sector standards — a difficult comparison to be sure — chief executives and management experts tend to give the mayor high praise.

"To manage New York, you need a clear vision of what you want for New Yorkers, and to have really good senior managers," said the chairman of the management division of the Columbia Business School, Raymond Horton. "Third, you have to be careful about figuring out what you want to get involved in and what you don't. Fourth, you have to bargain for what you get, and fifth, you have to deliver good services for the value."

Professor Horton gave the mayor good marks on almost all these points, but noted that his poor relations with labor unions, his inability to reduce labor and pension costs and his reliance on some forms of debt did not pass private-sector productivity and cost-control tests.

But too much of a bottom-line approach also brings detractors, especially around issues that have strong emotional undercurrents, like the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. When Mr. Bloomberg was invited to review the final designs in the memorial competition, people who were there said, his first question was how much each would cost to build.

Mr. Bloomberg said he regretted very few things that have occurred on his watch, and those he mentioned would have required clairvoyance to head off. "I wish, for example, we had looked at the labor practices on the running of the Staten Island ferry," the mayor said. "In retrospect, I wish that we hadn't sent those two cops on that particular gun buy where they got assassinated. But the major things that we approached, I have no regrets whatsoever. I will never do anything in my life that will save more lives than the smoking ban."

For many observers, the question is whether Mr. Bloomberg can embrace the political parts of his job that he so dislikes without ceding his management style, and better communicate the strengths of his record. "He communicates the idea that if you don't like him, he just doesn't care," said William Eimicke, a professor of public administration at Columbia. "Most politicians are in this business because they want to be liked. So he needs to be able to run on his competence. Because people in this town respect competence. Look, they hate George Steinbrenner, but the Yankees are very successful."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

December 27th, 2003, 11:47 AM
I'll be honest, Bloomberg has no conception of how to operate the Big Apple. He's clearly out of touch with the average New Yorker, he has imposed quite a few policies that are too disgusting to mention, and he's proved to be as elitist as all those old Democratic politicians. Did you know that he was a former Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for office easier?

December 29th, 2003, 09:10 AM
he has imposed quite a few policies that are too disgusting to mention

Like the smoking ban and higher taxes? ;)

I know what you are saying, but Bloom is NOT a politician. He is used to people doing what he wants or the will no longer work for him. To have to butter up an employee to do what you want them to do is not a very common occurance in his buisness model world.

If a construction company did not complete one of his buildings on time or screwed something up, he would take them to court for restitution. Here the city workers take HIM to court for "weight discrimination" or something similar. So I don't know.

I just hope that whatever he does, that some things stay in place long enough to have their intended effect.

December 29th, 2003, 10:01 AM
The media will publish a midterm report card. Let's start one:


Closed an 18% budget deficit.

Rehired Ray Kelly as police commisioner, who initiated the policies that led to crime reduction. Crime rate has continued to drop.

Ended a needless $630 million tax break to the NYSE

Rides the subway to work. Rudy took the limo.

Endorsed the renovation of the highline, reversing a Rudy initiative to dismantle it.


The nonpartisan election proposal.

The smoking ban. Tax records show no financial effect, but psychologically ill timed.

December 30th, 2003, 04:05 PM
I'll describe at least two more negatives (although you probably knew them already)

1. Proposed a land swap with the city taking full control of the WTC site. I'm glad this proposal fell through; the end result would have been 'low-rise affordable housing'.

2. Responded with near-total silence on the MTA fare hike, plus its accouting errors and very-real cutbacks on funding from Albany.

If there are any more negatives about Gloomberg, feel free to post them here.

December 30th, 2003, 07:37 PM

1. Dismantled the Board of Education.

2. The airport land swap. I see this as a positive, because the end result of the process was a new lease agreement with the PA.


1. No tangible results from number 1 above.

2. Moved the Dept of Education into Tweed Courthouse. The city owns space in the just renovated Sun Building across the street. The NYC Museum should have moved into Tweed. The public has the right to experience the magnificent interior.

**I disagree about his silence on the fare hike. The MTA is a state agency. The mayor has no control over its contracts. All he would have accomplished was alienating Pataki, not a smart move for a beginner.

January 2nd, 2004, 04:56 AM
January 2, 2004

Assessing Mayor Bloomberg's Year

Michael Bloomberg will enter the second half of his term as New York City's mayor with anemic popularity ratings despite his substantial achievements. Under Mr. Bloomberg, New York has been shepherded through desperate budget straits without significant losses in service. Crime has continued to drop in almost all categories. He has shown singular initiative in seeking out challenges, including taking control of the city's schools, and staunchly insists that he be held accountable for the results.

The mayor stubbornly believes that performance — and only performance — matters. His conviction that the public has no right to know where he goes during his private time is well known and wrongheaded. But he shows up when his presence is important. In 2003 the public gave him points for swiftly cleaning the streets after snowstorms and for leadership after the blackout and the shooting of a city councilman, James Davis. He did the right thing when he visited a neighborhood where a black city worker had died after police officers, acting on a bad tip, had forcibly entered her home. In one of his most popular initiatives, he set up a phone number, 311, for residents to report nonemergency problems.

Mr. Bloomberg made the right bet during last year's budget crisis when he chose higher taxes over drastic reductions in city services. But many voters still resent him for the tax increases and fail to give him credit for the clean and safe city streets. Some also resent his antismoking crusade — the positive effect on the health of city bartenders tends to be forgotten by patrons forced to smoke outside.

So far Mr. Bloomberg has been flailing over a crisis he inherited from Rudolph Giuliani: the huge trash problem created by closing the Staten Island landfill. Mayor Bloomberg's plan to build transfer stations and send the garbage to out-of-state landfills seemed like a good interim answer, but it turns out to be far more costly and difficult than he expected. The city is waiting for a revised plan.

Mr. Bloomberg has always said that his administration will be judged by its success in improving schools, and the jury is still out on that. His early achievement in restructuring the system has been succeeded by a period of open bickering, most loudly between Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and the unions. Both Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein made their names in the high-powered world of American business and legal life, and at this point it's not at all certain that their talents have transferred into the far different world of education.

Mr. Bloomberg — private, disciplined and usually governed by rules of civility — is mercifully a far cry from the operatic Mr. Giuliani. But he does not always pick his fights wisely. He placed a big bet on his ill-conceived battle to eliminate party primaries in local elections and overwhelmingly lost. More recently, he unleashed scorn on the city's Campaign Finance Board because it proposed increased public financing for candidates running against self-financed opponents, a likely situation for the billionaire mayor in 2005. The city could have used that mayoral anger better when Gov. George Pataki failed last year, again and again, to help the city out of its budget hole.

The mayor prefers working behind closed doors and settling differences quietly. But with an additional $2 billion budget gap looming, Mr. Bloomberg may need to let constituents see him fighting for them. All in all, the city has been lucky to have him in City Hall, but it would be good for New Yorkers to feel more like part of his team.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

January 16th, 2004, 12:55 AM
January 16, 2004


Better Times, Harder Politics


In theory, the worst kind of budgets for mayors are those with wrenching service cuts, big tax increases and a beggar's purse held open toward Albany and Washington. But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has built his mayoralty around taking a tough fiscal stand, may find that better times translate into tougher politics, especially in the year before he begins his re-election bid.

Yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg laid out in his preliminary budget address a plan free of substantial cuts to city services, modest in its request for federal and state aid and including a tax rebate for homeowners. There was even a provision that allows the city to pay upfront rather than borrow for some capital projects.

But while New Yorkers over the last two years have been forced to swallow budget cuts and gloomy fiscal talk, it is almost certain that Albany legislators, labor leaders, social policy advocates and others will now come swooping down on the west wing of City Hall, looking for some candy in the budget the mayor is proposing for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Their reasoning will be simple: if the city can afford tax cuts and is sparing almost all city agencies from draconian measures, then it can afford raises for city workers and increases in certain services. At the same time, lawmakers in Albany, who stood with the mayor against Gov. George E. Pataki last year in allowing the city to raise taxes, may well look askance at increasing aid for the city's schools or Medicaid.

In choosing between a fiscal crisis and a surplus, "The first is harder, but the second is more painful," said former Mayor Edward I. Koch. "It is harder to deal with a fiscal crisis; you want to spread the pain and protect the most vulnerable. But having to choose what you do with extra money - that is more painful, because you end up with everyone who didn't get it hating you."

Being hated is par for the course for any mayor. But Mr. Bloomberg is likely to face some additional pressure from those who will try to take his job in 2005.

It seemed almost impossible that just a year ago, he stood in the same spot in the Blue Room at City Hall at the tail end of a fiscal crisis, sharing details of a budget with substantial pain for all New Yorkers, including firehouse closings, and hinting at the need for more tax increases.

Yesterday, the mayor also moved miles from his first budget address, just months after the devastation of 9/11 and in the midst of a sinking economy, in which he said: "The budget that we're going to show you hurts everybody. It is a 'spread your pain, no sacred cow' kind of a solution to our problem."

Besides a $400 tax rebate for typical homeowners, yesterday's budget identified plenty of the sacred cows disdained in his first two years in office. In an extraordinary move for a preliminary budget, there were very few cuts to cultural institutions, libraries or services for the elderly.

So notable was Mr. Bloomberg's failure to enumerate cuts that one television reporter begged - some mayoral aides would argue badgered - the mayor to lay them on the line. "We're not cutting services," Mr. Bloomberg said. "That's what I tried to show you here. We are arguably increasing services by $381 million."

On one hand, the mayor and City Council have budgeted their way toward these better times over the last two years, and have been aided by rising tax revenues and a slight increase in employment in the region. But Mr. Bloomberg has also clearly decided that he would rather try to please as many constituents as possible than substantially restructure the city's budget for the long term or truly rein in spending.

But no sooner did the mayor end his hourlong budget address than the critics began to rally, looking for their own bit of good news in the status quo numbers the mayor laid out. Those representing all sorts of New Yorkers - rent payers, straphangers, the homeless, students, children, the elderly and more - immediately criticized the mayor's plan, especially the tax rebate.

"It's wrong for Mayor Bloomberg to ask that city subway and bus riders pay the bill for balancing the city budget and providing a tax cut," said Gene Russianoff, the lawyer for the Straphangers Campaign, a transit advocacy group, referring to the city's plan to get the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to take over private bus lines.

Rose Anello, a spokeswoman for the Citizens' Committee for Children, said, "We're concerned that the tax rebate might have been premature."

Council members gathered before the mayor even gave his address, denouncing it. And afterward, Speaker Gifford Miller released a statement saying the budget ought to have some savings for renters, and not just for homeowners.

Although Mr. Bloomberg took a much more measured tone with labor leaders and offered a softened version of productivity requirements needed to gain raises in the current contract negotiations, his rosier budget picture did not go unnoticed by those leaders. "Today's New York City police officers have been the most productive in history," said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "We look forward to negotiating an equitable contract with a city that recognizes these facts and is willing to pay officers a professional salary more in line with what other police make everywhere else."

The mayor may also antagonize legislators, whom he needs to approve his unusual tax rebate package, and from whom he seeks school aid, a takeover of certain Medicaid bills and pieces of legislation that would save the city more money.

Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday that anyone who thinks the city has deep pockets now is mistaken, a notion echoed later by aides. "We need to restrain spending, or we are going to bring about the same problems that we have had in years past," said his press secretary, Edward Skyler.

Still, Mr. Skyler went on, "Budgeting is always a challenge and every year presents different challenges, but I don't think he would trade his hand this year for his hand from either of the last two years."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

January 16th, 2004, 10:51 AM
Thanks for posting that, Christian. I'm very interested to see what sort of impact this will have on Bloomberg's approval rating.

February 5th, 2004, 04:05 AM
February 5, 2004

After Tax Rebate, a Rebound


A month after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed sending tax rebate checks to most homeowners, a poll released yesterday found his popularity has improved to the point that New Yorkers are now evenly divided on whether they approve of him.

The poll, by Quinnipiac University, found that 44 percent of those sampled said they approved of the way Mayor Bloomberg is handling his job, while 45 percent said they disapproved. For Mr. Bloomberg, whose popularity plummeted last year after he raised taxes to balance the budget, it was his best showing since last February.

The poll also showed Mr. Bloomberg gaining ground against the Democrats most likely to run against him in 2005. While a November poll showed Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, would beat Mr. Bloomberg by 18 percentage points in a hypothetical race, the new poll showed Mr. Ferrer winning by just 7 points.

The poll also underscored a long-held truth about polling: while it is easy to say that a hypothetical challenger would beat an incumbent, the margin narrows once actual politicians are substituted for hypothetical ones.

So while the November poll showed that voters would prefer "someone else" to Mr. Bloomberg by 62 percent to 23 percent, the new poll showed that only Mr. Ferrer and Mark Green, the mayor's opponent in the 2001 election, would narrowly beat him, although the results were within the margin of error. That means it could also go the other way.

Similarly, the new poll showed Mayor Bloomberg narrowly beating the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. and several other Democrats.

The poll, which was conducted from Jan. 25 to Monday, surveyed 1,176 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

"The mayor has an incredible record, and it's no surprise New Yorkers are recognizing it," said Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary. "He has led our city through the worst fiscal crisis in a generation, reduced crime, reformed the management of our school system and improved the quality of life so that jobs are coming back."

Black and Hispanic Acceptance Eludes Mayor, Despite His Efforts


From the time he took office as a Republican mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg has made repeated and explicit efforts to reach out to black and Hispanic residents, from giving unvarnished apologies for police mistakes to speaking at Al Sharpton's headquarters on the observance of Martin Luther King's birthday.

Moreover, in a noticeable shift from his predecessor, he has made social issues like low-income housing a central goal of his administration, a policy that is likely to favor blacks and Hispanics.

Through it all, though, his approval ratings among black and Hispanic New Yorkers have been poor. The ratings began fairly strong, considering that he is a Republican, but they have slipped during his first two years in office.

Even this week, just days after his emotional and applauded appearance at a funeral for a 19-year-old black man who was the victim of a police shooting, his approval numbers have not risen above 35 percent among blacks or Hispanics — substantially below the approval rating he is given by white New Yorkers, which rose to 53 percent in the same poll.

The results among black residents are somewhat better than what Rudolph W. Giuliani saw at a similar point in his first term, but not much improved, especially considering what many regarded as the polarizing nature of Mr. Giuliani's policies and style. Among Hispanics, Mr. Bloomberg's rating is even lower than Mr. Giuliani's at this point.

An examination of polling data and interviews with residents and political experts suggest strongly that Mr. Bloomberg's problems are not rooted in classic party loyalty or in any fundamental suspicion that the mayor's policies or thinking is discriminatory. Instead, the disapproval is based much more on economics, specifically the belief that the billionaire Mr. Bloomberg somehow cannot relate to black and Hispanic residents' everyday lives.

Though whites have also indicated in polls and interviews that they resent the mayor for raising taxes, particularly the property tax, the issue has a particular resonance among middle-class blacks and Hispanics, many of whom are first-time homeowners or work in or own small businesses.

"What do I think of Bloomberg? Forget it," said Raymond Santos, a real estate businessman in the Bronx, when asked his views on the mayor. "The property tax thing was insane, completely insane, and even though we get this one-time rebate back, it showed he doesn't understand how tough it is out here. He should never have done it in the first place."

His comments were echoed in numerous interviews around the city. Leeanna Joseph, a waitress at Carmichaels diner in Queens, said that she found Mr. Bloomberg to be "someone who doesn't relate to the average person."

"I know he has a lot of money," she added, "and I think that he just doesn't understand the regular person."

Mr. Bloomberg's aides said the lackluster approval ratings and reaction to Mr. Bloomberg were a disappointment but not unsurmountable.

"We think that our job is to hammer away at the big problems and move the smaller ones off the table," said William T. Cunningham, the mayor's communications director. "And that's what we've been doing. Of course, we would like the numbers to be higher in every demographic group, but we're not here to achieve certain poll numbers in February of 2004. We're here to accomplish things for the city of New York."

Indeed, Mr. Bloomberg has said all along that polls matter little to him. But the issue of his standing among blacks and Hispanics goes beyond the numbers. Politically, it is no small hurdle to clear. His likely opponents when he seeks re-election in 2005 include at least three black candidates and one Hispanic candidate. The opinions of people like the Rev. Kirby Spivey 3rd, a youth minister at the Calvary Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens — he feels the mayor "seems to be kind of in his own world" — will take on added weight.

"He spent so much money on his campaign that it seems he bought the mayoralty," Mr. Spivey said. "And he doesn't seem like he understands the common man and woman."

Opinions can change, particularly at a time when the economy is perking up, less drastic budget decisions are ahead and Mr. Bloomberg has at his disposal a vast income to bombard the airwaves with the accomplishments of his administration and good news from the Bloomberg years.

Mr. Bloomberg is already seeing some improvement among all New Yorkers. Poll results announced yesterday by Quinnipiac University show his approval rating by all New Yorkers has now split, with 44 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving. That is an improvement over the last several months and the highest overall rating the mayor has received since February 2003.

The poll, which was conducted from Jan. 25 through Monday, surveyed 1,176 New York City registered voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Broken down by race, the poll is less favorable and is consistent with other polls taken during Mr. Bloomberg's tenure. It found Mr. Bloomberg's favorability among black respondents was just 35 percent, and 34 percent among Hispanics.

Statistically, the poll is not an improvement among blacks and Hispanics over the previous Quinnipiac poll, in November, despite the mayor's announcement in the interim that he would offer $400 property tax rebates to homeowners, as well as his efforts in the wake of the Brooklyn shooting.

Interviewed after Mr. Bloomberg had visited the family of the dead man, Timothy Stansbury Jr., had spoken at his funeral and after Mr. Bloomberg's police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, had declared the shooting appeared to be unjustified — an unusual moment in the city's recent history — Henrietta Bishop still said she was dissatisfied with the Bloomberg Administration.

"It was good that he reached out for the family," said Ms. Bishop, who lives in Harlem and works with handicapped adults. "But don't just reach out for that particular family after the fact. I think it should be an ongoing thing." She said she didn't vote for him "and I definitely won't vote for him again. I wouldn't dare cast my vote for him."

(In contrast, the Quinnipiac poll indicated that Mr. Kelly continued to have high approval ratings among all New York City voters, including blacks and Hispanics.)

Pollsters and political scientists consider the Bloomberg findings somewhat confounding, especially considering that Mr. Bloomberg had stronger support among the city's Hispanic and black voters than is conventional for a Republican. In fact, he was elected with about 25 percent of the black vote, and Hispanic voters divided their votes almost evenly between Mr. Bloomberg and his Democratic rival, Mark Green.

But interviews and polls point to Mr. Bloomberg's economic policies as the source of his problems, as well as a visceral perception by blacks and Hispanics that he does not care about their daily struggles.

When asked in the most recent Quinnipiac poll whether the mayor "cares about the needs and problems of people like you," only 28 percent of black and 30 percent of Hispanic respondents said yes. That compared with 55 percent of white respondents.

"We're in hard times in the city, but it's compounded in communities of color that have yet to get their footing in education and health care," said City Councilwoman Yvette D. Clarke, who represents the Flatbush and Crown Heights sections of Brooklyn. "The property tax increase has had a devastating impact, the layoffs and so on. "

"His policies are not as in-your-face as those of the Giuliani administration, but the signal is still sent that you're an afterthought in the process or not a thought at all," Ms. Clarke said.

Even Mr. Cunningham, the mayor's communications director, acknowledged that there is an economic component to the disparity in the mayor's approval ratings.

"We had two difficult budget years with a lot of headlines and stories about how tough it would be and how we had to cut money," Mr. Cunningham said. "And the people who are most apt to be concerned about social programs provided by the city are working class and poor people, and that would track with census data with minority communities."

But, said Mr. Cunningham, the news is not all bad for Mr. Bloomberg.

"If you were to say that any Republican mayor other than John Lindsay had the support of more than a quarter of the minority voters, Republicans would be ecstatic," Mr. Cunningham said. "And Democrats would be worried. And the Democrats should be worried."

But, said some political strategists, so should Mr. Bloomberg. "Unlike when he first ran, he now has a record," said John H. Mollenkopf, director of urban research at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Mr. Mollenkopf pointed out that Mr. Bloomberg won in the aftermath of an ethnically charged Democratic primary and runoff in 2001 that left many Hispanic voters, and some black ones, too, displeased with the ultimate Democratic nominee. That defection was coupled with strength among moderate-to-conservative white voters.

"And even though he was elected by an electoral coalition based in white neighborhoods, he has lost some of that Giuliani and Koch base of voters that he needs to get reelected," Mr. Mollenkopf said. "But on the other hand, there is a chance that there might be an ethnically charged, fractious Democratic primary. And that could enable the mayor to benefit from some of the same cleavages that were triggered in 2001."

So far, the people running or most likely to run against Mr. Bloomberg include Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president and the city's best-known Hispanic politician and Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and City Councilman Charles Barron, all of whom are black.

Mr. Cunningham suggested that Mr. Bloomberg's potential opponents were galvanizing their supporters, which is hurting Mr. Bloomberg in the polls. He also said that a Republican running in the highly Democratic city is always at a disadvantage.

But some Democratic politicians said Mr. Bloomberg's problems were not party problems. "Of course, many Latinos and African Americans are first-time homeowners and they were angry about the property tax increase," said Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr., a Bronx Democrat. "But it's not just that and it's not just his policies, and it's not a party thing, either, because he got a significant amount of Latino votes, especially for a Republican.

"It's his attitude," Mr. Diaz said. "And it's the feeling that he doesn't really care about us. Many people feel that we don't have a seat at the table."

Marjorie Connelly and Oren Yaniv contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 10th, 2004, 12:02 AM
February 10, 2004


No Social Recluse, Mayor Fights Killjoy Image


It is true that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has never danced on a table at Bungalow 8, at least not that anyone has witnessed. But it is also true that the mayor - who is notoriously sleep-deprived, salty of tongue and once held a party dedicated to the theme of sin - hardly fits the reputation he has earned this year as the big municipal nanny.

Nonetheless, it is a charge once again being lobbed at Mr. Bloomberg by the citizens of New York's night life universe. They first made the complaint when the mayor pushed through broad antismoking legislation. And they have renewed their attacks now that the administration is seeking to rewrite the laws that govern the city's night life establishments, proposing a new license for all bars that stay open past 1 a.m.

As mayors go, Mr. Bloomberg is far more Jimmy Walker than Abe Beame. His dance card is so full each night that he rarely gets to bed before midnight, even though he is early to rise. He likes to drink wine. (His preference: California merlots.) He likes to party-hop. He is more often than not the guy pushing to hit one more stop before home.

"He is always the one who wants to go out after an event," said Diana L. Taylor, the state superintendent of banks and Mr. Bloomberg's companion. She cited last New Year's Eve as a recent example. After the ball had fallen and the mayor's official duties in Times Square were complete, "Everyone was ready to hang it up," she said. "And he said, 'No, we have to go and have a drink.' So we had a couple of drinks at The Mark hotel, which most of us did not need."

The Mark is one of the mayor's favorite bars for a nightcap, but he is also fond of hitting a diner in Queens or Staten Island for a coffee if meetings keep him out late. He once gave Caroline Kennedy a lift home from a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, and though it was after midnight, insisted that she join him for a late-night supper at the Neptune Diner near La Guardia Airport. It should be mentioned that she was wearing a full-length ball gown.

Whether Mr. Bloomberg's proposed legislation would shut down the city's night life - he insists it will not - or simply streamline processes and weed out bad club operators - as administration officials insist is its intent - is far from clear.

But once again Mr. Bloomberg finds himself in the position of taking a stand and letting the chips fall where they may around him, something he has done with some frequency, from raising property taxes to raising fines to promoting the notorious smoking ban.

Only this time, the charge is an incongruous one, and one that cannot help but irk a man who seems to relish his reputation among his friends as an insatiable partyer, as far from a fussbudget killjoy as the quiet, bland Mr. Beame was from being a D.J. at Studio 54.

"It's hardly the first time a political attack bore no relation to reality," Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said as testily as possible in an e-mail message.

The particulars on the proposed legislation that would change the cabaret laws have not been completed. Under the current system, only those establishments that have a cabaret license, which is very hard to get, can permit its customers to dance. That has put the city in the position of serving as the dance police.

The city would seek to do away with the law, replacing it with a more general license required for all bars, clubs and restaurants that can hold more than 75 patrons in a residential area or 200 in a commercial one, that stay open past 1 a.m. and that have noise levels above 90 decibels.

Many club and bar owners fear that these new licenses, which could be revoked more easily than the old one for various types of infractions, will result in a town full of bars that close by 1 a.m. Mr. Bloomberg and his Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner, Gretchen Dykstra, insist it is not so. (The department enforced the cabaret license and would oversee any new legislation.) They argue that only bad operators - those that are constantly noisy, or full of violence, and the like - will suffer under the new legislation.

But many owners are not buying it. "This will dwarf the smoking issue for a variety of reasons," said Robert Bookman, the lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association.

"Out of touch" has become the catchall adjective to lob at Mr. Bloomberg by people who do not like his policies, and nanny is his noun.

It did not help matters last week when The New York Times reported on a party for Wall Street big shots that Mr. Bloomberg attended, ignoring cigar smoke around him.

"Double standard is a term coming up more and more in relation to Bloomberg-ian behavior," said Michael Musto, who has chronicled night life for The Village Voice for 20 years, in an e-mail message.

(Some aides point out that if the mayor had stood and demanded that the puffing cease, he would have gotten no better press.)

Yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg dismissed the idea that he allowed cigar smoking at the expensive hotel while forcing other bars to be smoke-free. "I didn't see anybody smoking," he said. "I arrived late, I stayed for about an hour and a half. It very well could have been, and I know the Department of Health is investigating the St. Regis Hotel."

City Council members, many of whom are invested in the mayor's image as a nursemaid, are waiting to see what happens next. "The broad concept is a good one," said Alan J. Gerson, a Democratic councilman . "That is to deregulate dance and to better regulate noise and outdoor traffic and congestion.

"But there are concerns we had off the bat over how they intend to enforce it," he added, because "some of the triggers for shutdown might be overly inclusive."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 25th, 2004, 09:59 AM
February 25, 2004

Bloomberg Tries Makeover, Daring to Look Like Politician


It was the blink of an eye, really, 30 short minutes out of a busy and protracted Thursday: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, standing in a barren lot in Washington Heights, announced that the city would soon have a new parking garage. There were five speakers, including Mr. Bloomberg, who banged his hands together to fight off the cold as each person took his turn expounding on the traffic troubles in upper Manhattan.

But if the moment was largely pedestrian and political - an overture to a largely Hispanic neighborhood by a mayor trying to shore up his flagging minority support - it was one of many in recent months that point to a sea change in the mayoral style. Facing what his aides concede is going to be a very stiff re-election battle next year, Mr. Bloomberg is quietly retooling himself into something of the political creature he claimed to disdain during the first part of his term.

He is making focused efforts to curry favor with specific constituents - most visibly Hispanic New Yorkers - in ways he once dismissed as ceremonial obligations that took up too much of his time. In addition to announcing the parking garage, he recently went to a small Dominican organization in Washington Heights to promote the earned-income tax credit.

He holds a news conference every week outside Manhattan announcing some small-bore program, like a tax abatement plan for Co-op City, in the Bronx.

And instead of digging in and backing his commissioners to the bitter end as he has in the past, Mr. Bloomberg appears to be picking his battles a bit more carefully. This month, he backed away from a controversial piece of legislation that would change the rules governing night life, once it became clear he was going to pay a political price for it. This was in stark contrast to his refusal little more than a year ago to yield an inch on his citywide smoking ban, which infuriated bar and restaurant owners.

Most notably, Mr. Bloomberg is stepping up his political rhetoric, something he all but refused to do until this year. He has recently been attacking the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and by proxy, Gov. George E. Pataki, over its decision to buy new Metro-North Railroad cars rather than improve the city's transportation network. Taking on the authority over an issue that pits city against suburbs is a time-honored way for a mayor to win support in the five boroughs, and Mr. Bloomberg has done it with a directness and constancy he has never shown before.

All of this, on the heels of a homeowner tax rebate, suggests that Mr. Bloomberg has abandoned his notion that simply "doing the right thing," to use his phrase, would hoist him to re-election. The mayor has clearly learned that while New Yorkers liked a candidate who was not a classic politician, a politician is apparently exactly what they want for a mayor.

His press secretary, Edward Skyler, said the mayor is simply starting to show the personal style he kept under wraps after his first bruising campaign. "His public personality has evolved into what he is like in private," Mr. Skyler said. "He is a sharp, no-nonsense guy who says what he thinks and is deeply committed to the city. It is ironic that he couldn't be more different from the noncaring technocrat he has been typecast as."

The reinvention of Mr. Bloomberg, the politician, started last summer, with his poll numbers in the basement, but a budget crisis largely behind him. The mayor began to tool around the city, bringing neighborhoods goodies like street repairs and small jobs programs.

Mr. Bloomberg also began to insert himself into parochial battles that even a year ago he would have viewed as too local to merit the help of City Hall; for example, he announced last fall that the city would acquire six acres of land from the KeySpan Corporation for a park in Elmhurst, Queens, to block Home Depot from buying the land against community opposition.

And beyond his parking-garage announcement, his second public appearance in Washington Heights in the last month, Mr. Bloomberg has tried to find other ways to reach out for the all-important Hispanic vote, like inviting Fernando A. Mateo, the president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, to join him on a recent broadcast of his weekly radio show. The mayor continues to take Spanish lessons, and tries his best to knock out an intelligible line or two in that language during some news conferences.

"Almost all of his activity is geared toward the outer boroughs," said Kenneth Sherrill, a professor of political science at Hunter College. "Including the Hispanic and African-American activity. He is targeting those who say, 'This is a Manhattan mayor who does not understand people like us.' Also, mass transit is a natural for outer-borough votes."

Mr. Bloomberg also seems to be trying to counter the largely held perception that he fails to stand up for New York City, and responds to its critics and adversaries with conciliation. Just before New Year's Eve, when Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, said he would not go to Times Square "for anything," Mr. Bloomberg mocked him, suggesting that the congressman should call the servicewoman who joined the mayor for the festivities to "learn a little bit about courage." He recently criticized the police union for taking a vote of no confidence against his police commissioner.

And over the last few weeks, Mr. Bloomberg has been attacking the transportation authority with some regularity. "I don't think they should be spending money on new things until they first do the basic objective that they were set up to accomplish," he said this week at a news conference on the Upper West Side, "and that was to provide reliable, safe, affordable mass transit for all of the people of the region, particularly for those in the center of the region. And that means doing something about buses from Co-op City and buses from Queens and that sort of thing. Let's get serious."

Of course, telling the authority it should get serious is not exactly the stuff of the mayor's predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who pelted personal insults at those who defied him. Then again, Mr. Bloomberg's criticism of the transportation agency comes from the same mayor who once defended its desire to raise transit fares, before the fare increase was announced, much to the annoyance of the governor and the authority.

Whether all of these efforts will translate into votes for Mr. Bloomberg in 2005 is unknowable. But recent polls suggest they have not hurt; a Quinnipiac University poll last May found that 32 percent of those surveyed approved of the mayor, and that number rose to 44 percent in the same university's poll this month.

"A lot of it depends on who runs against him," Professor Sherrill said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 31st, 2004, 09:05 PM
Poll: 47% like Mike

By Dan Janison
Staff Writer

March 31, 2004, 5:15 PM EST

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's long-depressed approval ratings are on the upswing, with his numbers stronger in Manhattan than anywhere else, a poll released Wednesday shows.

In July, 60 percent of those surveyed by Quinnipiac University disapproved of the job the mayor was doing and 31 percent approved.

In February, those results became almost evenly split, and now 47 percent approve and 41 percent do not, the survey found. The rest offered no opinion.

Quinnipiac poll director Maurice Carroll said yesterday that it is Bloomberg's first positive approval rating since February 2003.

"I don't say that the voters are in love with him," Carroll said. "New Yorkers are impressed with his leadership ability, but voters still don't think the mayor understands their needs and problems."

In Manhattan, his home borough, the mayor's ratings were 59 percent positive and 32 percent negative; in Brooklyn, it was 47-38, with 46-41 in Staten Island. In Queens, it was 44-45, and in the Bronx, 54 percent disapproved and 34 percent approved of Bloomberg.

Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president who is a likely Democratic mayoral candidate next year, was the only candidate who'd beat Bloomberg one-on-one, by 45 percent to 41 percent, according to Quinnipiac.

By contrast, five other possible Democratic contenders are shown to trail the incumbent, drawing between 36 percent and 39 percent, with Bloomberg drawing in the 40s, Quinnipiac said.

The mayor is still polling strongest among white voters, 56 percent of whom said yes when asked if they approve of the way he is handling his job.

Forty-eight percent of blacks responded no, while 38 percent said yes. The numbers were similar among Latinos.

The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, surveyed 1,159 registered voters in the city from March 23 to March 29.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, meanwhile, continues to win overwhelming approval ratings -- 67 percent to 16 percent, according to Quinnipiac. That's made up of 73 percent approval among whites, 61 percent among blacks and 64 percent among Latinos.

Fifty-six percent of all those polled said Bloomberg is not in touch with the problems of ordinary New Yorkers; 61 percent said he is honest and trustworthy.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

April 1st, 2004, 01:15 AM
April 1, 2004

For First Time in Months, Poll Looks Up for Bloomberg


For the first time in more than a year, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's popularity has improved to the point that his approval ratings now outweigh his disapproval ratings, according to a poll released yesterday by Quinnipiac University.

The poll found that 47 percent of voters sampled said they approved of the way the mayor is handling his job, while 41 percent said they disapproved.

It was the best showing since February 2003 for Mr. Bloomberg, who faced widespread opposition after he pushed through a smoking ban, raised taxes and closed fire companies to balance the city's budget. In that earlier poll, 48 percent of surveyed voters expressed approval while 41 percent disapproved.

The poll showed that support for Mr. Bloomberg, who will run for re-election next year, remains strongest in Manhattan, where his approval rating was 59 percent. His approval rating was lower in the boroughs outside Manhattan, ranging from a high of 47 percent in Brooklyn to a mere 34 percent in the Bronx, which has a large Hispanic population.

Indeed, the poll underscored Mr. Bloomberg's tenuous connection with Hispanic and black residents, despite his repeated efforts to reach out to them by emphasizing issues like low-income housing. His approval rating was 56 percent among white respondents, compared with 41 percent among Hispanics and 38 percent among blacks.

The mayor's poll numbers have steadily risen since plummeting to 31 percent in July 2003. A previous Quinnipiac poll, released in February 2004, showed that 44 percent of those surveyed approved of the mayor, while 45 percent disapproved. The mayor's highest approval rating - 65 percent - came in February 2002, just a month after he took office.

Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, attributed the mayor's turnaround primarily to the voters' growing familiarity with him, and the brightening fiscal prospects for the city. In contrast to the tax increases of a year ago, the mayor's current budget includes a $400 rebate for most city homeowners.

"People are getting to used to him, he's a different kind of mayor," Mr. Carroll said. "But he's also working at it. He's reaching out to people, and that's a plus. He doesn't go away every weekend to Bermuda."

Ed Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said that New Yorkers were recognizing that the mayor is "working tirelessly" for the city. But Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, said that the poll also revealed that a significant block of people do not like the mayor and consistently oppose him. "There seems to be this reserve of ill will out there - can a Democrat tap into that?" he asked.

The Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed 1,159 New York City registered voters from March 23 to 29, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 3rd, 2004, 08:14 AM
April 3, 2004

Mayor's Math Doesn't Earn Him Points in Politics


When it comes to estimating populations, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg rarely is mathematically incorrect. Politically, his correctness may be another matter, at least for a man who wants a second term.

Yesterday, during his weekly radio program, Mr. Bloomberg said he would like to see the minimum wage increased, preferably on the federal level, but if not, then in New York State. A bill in the State Senate would increase that wage to $7.10 an hour; several states have laws that require employers to pay wages above the federal minimum.

The mayor said such an increase would not be controversial because "No. 1, there aren't that many people that work at the minimum wage."

He added, "If you raised it, you probably really wouldn't help very many people because most people work at above it, but nevertheless there are some who are stuck at a minimum wage, and it's awful tough to feed your family."

About 6.3 percent of workers in the state earn the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour or less than that rate, compared with roughly 3 percent of the nation's population, according to statistics from the federal Department of Labor.

But how many people add up to just a few is often in the eye of the beholder. "There are a significant number of people who would benefit from the minimum-wage increase," said James Parrott, the deputy director at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a liberal research group, citing 267,000 New York City workers who earn the federal minimum or slightly more.

The billionaire mayor has been working to counter criticism that he is insensitive to the economic realities of average New Yorkers, and a poll this week shows that he is having some success, but he is still prone to occasional remarks that may give offense to some constituencies.

On several occasions recently, for example, he has dismissed the number of residents who he believes would be displaced by his administration's plan to rezone broad swaths of the far West Side of Manhattan, expand the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and build a 75,000-seat stadium.

"There's nobody that lives there," the mayor has said, citing a preponderance of parking garages and empty lots. Numerically, again, the facts are on his side; few people dispute that west of 10th Avenue in the upper 30's, there are only about 140 legal residents.

But that has not kept the mayor from stirring up adversaries with his remark.

"I think it is disrespectful," said Anthony M. Borelli, the district manager of Community Board 4, who lives along 10th Avenue in the heart of the area proclaimed uninhabited by the mayor. "He qualifies his statement by saying west of 10th Avenue, and there are very few buildings west of 10th Avenue," he said.

"What is frustrating is his refusal to recognize that his rezoning area is a lot larger than where he is planning to build a stadium," Mr. Borelli said. The Bloomberg administration's redevelopment plan for the Hudson Yards would change zoning throughout a 59-block area from 28th to 42nd Street west of Eighth Avenue, where the community board accounts for 21,000 residents. "He basically equates my home with a parking lot," Mr. Borelli said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 14th, 2004, 11:33 PM
April 15, 2004

Next Task for Mayor: Establishing His Charisma


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has convinced many voters - even those who claim in polls to dislike him - that he is an effective manager of New York City.

The challenge for Mr. Bloomberg now as he lays the groundwork for a re-election bid is to prove that he can be a charismatic leader as well. In recent weeks, it has become clear that Mr. Bloomberg is making a concerted effort to persuade New Yorkers that he can fulfill the role of cheerleader, bully, baseball fiend, loudmouth and shameless advocate for a city that determinedly demands such élan from their mayor.

In the last month, Mr. Bloomberg fired his appointees to an educational board who stood in his way, shut down construction of the Time Warner Center over a minor violation and slammed a beer company that has been critical of his administration.

In the last week alone, he has strongly implied that the federal government was weak-kneed for refusing to reopen the Statue of Liberty right after Sept. 11, chastised a firefighter for off-duty drunkenness and repeatedly accused his adversaries of "pandering," a word he appeared to have no previous knowledge of, based on his public remarks.

Recently, he made incendiary, unsolicited remarks about the managers of Madison Square Garden, who oppose his plan to build a stadium on the West Side, something highly unusual for a mayor who has historically refused to even mildly criticize people who attack him.

Some of these moves - particularly his strong-arming of an educational advisory board on the issue of social promotion - appear to be winning the mayor points in the polls. Quinnipiac University recently found that 47 percent of those surveyed approved of the way the mayor is handling his job, up from 31 percent last July.

Such behavior has certainly brought some comfort to his long-suffering aides, many of whom have been begging him for the last two years to toughen his public stands against opponents.

Earlier this week, during a news conference in Queens, Mr. Bloomberg laid into the Rheingold Brewing Company, which has prepared advertisements that criticize the administration's smoking policy.

"I remember reading in the newspapers about working men and women pouring cans of Rheingold down the sewer in Brooklyn when they fired 4,000 people almost overnight," Mr. Bloomberg said of Rheingold, which pulled its operations out of New York in the 1970's.

"They left us with a brownfield that we've spent over $3 million to clean up over the last 20 years," he said. Standing at the edge of the room, the mayor's press secretary, Edward Skyler, grinned wildly.

"In public and in private, Mayor Bloomberg is a tireless advocate for the city, passionate about his job and working hard for all New Yorkers," Mr. Skyler said later. "If certain situations reveal that publicly more than others, so be it, but he always remains focused on results, not theatrics."

The conventional wisdom is that in acting out, Mr. Bloomberg has tried to emulate Rudolph W. Giuliani's tough approach toward everyone from squeegee men to Albany lawmakers to a Saudi prince with whom he disagreed.

"You had a city filled with people who overwhelmingly and intensely disagreed with Giuliani on the issues," said Kenneth Sherrill, a professor of political science at Hunter College. "But they liked having a feisty, hands-on, passionate mayor. They liked him for his style more than they liked him for his substance."

But those close to the mayor say he is actually behaving in public the same way he did when he was running his own business. "I don't really see anything that is different from the way he is acting now than when he was in charge of this company," said one senior executive at the firm.

"He has a tough side, he yells and screams and you can hear him from across the room," the executive continued, "but he has an idea of how he wants to win and he pursues it. He does listen to his customers, which in this case is voters, and he is going to do what it takes to win, which in this case is communicating with voters in the way they are used to hearing things."

But there are definitely risks to that strategy, namely in alienating voters on certain issues and reminding them that he is not a typical New Yorker, but rather the highly successful - and wealthy - businessman used to getting his own way. Indeed, polls have shown that the wealth that propelled him into office remains an albatross among the city's middle- and lower-income voters.

And Mr. Bloomberg, perhaps the least sentimental person in city government, may still have a way to go on the empathy front. His face often remains screwed in the same sideways grin, whether he is giving a speech to business leaders, playing a game of boccie in Corona or talking to third graders in the South Bronx. It seems almost physically impossible for him to emote the way Mr. Giuliani did after Sept. 11.

But as the ghost of Sept. 11 is overshadowed each day by new events - and new tragedies - Mr. Bloomberg has tried to finesse his role as municipal comforter. He is among the last to leave any funeral. He is almost always among the first people to visit the hospitals when a city worker is injured on the job, and he often makes calls to the person or his or her family for months after a terrible event. When a firefighter, Thomas C. Brick, was killed in a Manhattan warehouse fire last year, Mr. Bloomberg arrived at the hospital before the family, and almost immediately held an emotional news conference.

"We were all surprised that he welled up and was emotional," one senior Fire Department official said. "It was the same thing at the funeral. I believe he even went with the family to view the body. That was the first time we saw him react that way, and a lot of people in the department noticed that."

Mr. Bloomberg, who barely stepped foot in Queens before 2001, pronounces bodega "BOO-dega" and has not seen a single episode of "The Apprentice," has 18 more months to convince New Yorkers that he is really one of them. "He is looking more human," Mr. Sherrill said. "He shows emotion, he seems to care about things, and so that resonates with voters."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 23rd, 2004, 01:23 AM
April 23, 2004

More Approve of Bloomberg, Poll Shows


More New Yorkers approve of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's handling of his job than did last June, the latest New York Times Poll has found, and since June almost twice as many believe the city's economy is better. But the public is deeply divided over how he is handling the school system, an issue that Mr. Bloomberg has told voters should determine whether he is re-elected next year.

Of those polled, 38 percent say they approve of the way Mr. Bloomberg is handling his job, compared with 24 percent last June, a historic low for this poll. More New Yorkers disapprove of the way the mayor is handling the schools than approve, 46 percent to 38 percent, and the number approving has slipped from a year ago.

Still, the poll shows that some of Mr. Bloomberg's policies are very popular. For example, his plan to make third graders who fail reading or math tests repeat that grade — a central element of his education plan — was supported by 63 percent of those polled. A surprisingly similar percentage said they approved of the mayor's antismoking law, and that number has increased over the last year.

The respondents to the poll showed strong support for his other initiatives. When asked if they liked the idea of New York playing host to the Summer Olympics in 2012, a goal Mr. Bloomberg has actively pursued, 71 percent said yes. Almost half said they would like to see a new sports stadium built on the West Side of Manhattan (although only 21 percent liked the idea of taxpayers picking up some of the tab for that stadium)

That said, 64 percent also said that they would like to see another person sitting at the mayor's desk in City Hall after the 2005 election.

The poll was conducted by telephone April 16-21 with 1,132 adults throughout the city, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The juxtaposition of how people respond to Mr. Bloomberg's policies and how they feel about him underscores the paradox of his mayoralty: while the majority of those polled offered hearty approval of some of the mayor's signature policies or conditions in the city, something about him arouses antipathy. When asked if they viewed Mr. Bloomberg favorably or unfavorably, only 28 percent replied "favorably," but significantly more people said he was doing a good job.

"Obviously he knows what he's doing," Bernice Colon, 66, who lives in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx, said in a followup interview. Yet she still finds herself disliking the mayor. "He doesn't give me a message. I know he's going to say, 'I really like you,' but I don't think he really does."

Those feelings were echoed by other respondents.

"I don't believe Mayor Bloomberg is in touch with what the common people feel or need in this city," said Bruce Sykes, 69, echoing a common refrain of the last few years. But Mr. Sykes, who lives in Washington Heights, in Manhattan, added: "The problem is, you don't know what these people are going to be like until they get in. There's no on-the-job training to be mayor. You walk in, and what you bring to the job, fundamentally, is your own personality and your own philosophy."

Yet for all those New Yorkers who think Mr. Bloomberg should go, few have strong feelings about any of his potential political opponents. Almost 70 percent of the respondents said they had not heard enough about six rivals the mayor may face in 2005 to have an opinion; only former borough president Fernando Ferrer, a former mayoral candidate, was well known, and 37 percent said they knew enough to form an opinion.

Although the poll found that most respondents want a new mayor, it is also notable that in a Times poll in 1997, 48 percent of those polled said the same thing about Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and that eight months later he was re-elected in a landslide.

Many of those polled said that they felt their taxes had gone up and that they were having a hard time financially, but a full 45 percent said they thought New York City's economy was "good." Only 24 percent thought so last June.

While it is not possible to come to clear conclusions about why Mr. Bloomberg's poll numbers have bounced upward, there is a strong suggestion that perceived improvements in the economy have helped him. For example, he has 45 percent approval among people who say the economy is good, but only 34 percent from those who think it is bad.

"The city has started to recover from 9/11 and businesses have started to come back," said Knut Johannessen, 75, a retired factory worker, who said he was still struggling to make it through each month.

If voters take Mr. Bloomberg up on his invitation to judge him by the state of the schools, he may be in trouble. When asked if they were generally satisfied with the quality of the city's schools, 72 percent of those polled said they were not, exactly the same percentage as in 1993.

Among those polled, 61 percent think parents have too little say in how the public schools are run, and 37 percent say the mayor has too much. While 16 percent say his handling of education has been the best thing he has done since he took office, 11 percent say it is the worst.

Those results call into question how much New Yorkers truly understand what is happening in public education, and perhaps how much it would actually affect their vote, even though far more of those polled professed to want the mayor to focus on education than, say, crime.

But clearly many New Yorkers feel uneasy about the power the mayor has gained over the schools through mayoral control. "I don't like what he's doing with the schools," said Gregory Butler, a carpenter in Harlem. "What with them dismantling the community school boards, and then having his little junta there running the schools - they are unelected and are accountable only to him."

Strikingly, parents with children in the public schools had a more negative view of how Mr. Bloomberg is handing education generally: 54 percent of the parents polled disapproved. Specific aspects of the school system and its governance are disliked by larger numbers of the parents than by the general population, including the chancellor, Joel I. Klein, and the amount of power that parents hold in decision-making and the attention they believe the mayor devotes to the schools.

On almost every issue Mr. Bloomberg scores lower among black and Hispanic New Yorkers than among whites, but 38 percent of whites now disapprove of the way he is handling education, up from 31 percent two years ago. By comparison, 56 percent of blacks expressed disapproval, up from only 54 percent in 2002.

Among Republicans, 51 percent approve of his job performance and 42 disapprove. Among Democrats, it is 34 percent approval, 51 percent disapproval.

It appears that New Yorkers, who are still afraid of another terrorist attack, are nevertheless beginning to feel better about the condition of the city. Of those polled, 20 percent feel the city is getting better; last June, only 12 percent felt that way. And when asked if they would prefer to remain living in New York City, most said yes.

Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, expressed pleasure with the poll. "New Yorkers are increasingly recognizing that in just two years, Mayor Bloomberg has compiled an outstanding record," he said. "Guiding the city through the fiscal crisis, bringing down crime to levels no one thought possible, reforming a school system that has failed generations of schoolchildren and improving our quality of life so our economy can get back on track, bringing jobs back to New York City."


How the Poll Was Conducted

The latest New York Times Poll is based on telephone interviews conducted April 16 through 21 in all parts of New York City with 1,132 adults. Interviews were conducted in either English or Spanish.

The sample of telephone exchanges called was selected by a computer from a complete list of city exchanges. The exchanges were chosen so as to assure that each area of the city was represented in proportion to its population. For each exchange, the telephone numbers were formed by random digits, thus permitting access to both listed and unlisted numbers. Within each household one adult was designated by a random procedure to be the respondent for the survey.

The results have been weighted to take account of household size and number of telephone lines into the residence, and to adjust for variations in the sample relating to borough, race, sex, age, education, and Hispanic descent.

In theory, in 19 cases out of 20 the results based on such samples will differ by no more than three percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained by seeking out all adult New Yorkers.

For smaller subgroups, the potential sampling error is larger.

In addition to sampling error, the practical difficulties of conducting any survey of public opinion may introduce other sources of error into the poll. Differences in the wording and order of questions, for instance, can lead to somewhat varying results.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 24th, 2004, 09:40 PM
April 25, 2004


To Many New Yorkers, He's Still Mayor Indifferent


More city residents think Mayor Bloomberg is doing a good job, and more also believe that he cares about their needs and problems, according to the latest New York Times poll. But most New Yorkers also continue to have the impression that he cares little about them.

The mayor cares a lot or some about the needs and problems of the average New Yorker, say 43 percent of the city residents polled, but 54 percent say he cares not much or at all.

Those are not happy numbers for the mayor, but they are a small improvement over last July, when, in a Times/CBS News poll, 36 percent said he cared at least somewhat about their concerns and 59 percent said he didn't care much.

The mayor's job approval rating rose to 38 percent, from 25 percent in July. The poll, conducted April 16-21 and based on telephone interviews with 1,132 adults throughout the city, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Of those who said the mayor was doing a good job, 69 percent said he cared a lot or some about them. But only 24 percent of those who disapprove of his job performance agree.

"I believe he went into politics for the benefit of the city," said Larry Ropinski, 51, of Fresh Meadows, Queens, in a follow-up interview. "I think that generally speaking, all the policies he's attempting or has put into place are all policies that are intended to improve the city."

Megan Pringle, 24, of Annandale, Staten Island, disagreed. "I think he makes a lot of decisions based on his own social circle," she said.

Income was a strong factor in the poll. In households with income less than $30,000 a year, 31 percent said he cared a lot or some about their concerns and 67 percent said he cared little about them. But 60 percent of residents whose income exceeds $100,000 a year said he cared a lot or some, and only 36 percent considered him indifferent.


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 27th, 2004, 02:02 AM
April 27, 2004


Drop the Cash, Stand Clear, Have a Drink


THE mayor presented his latest budget proposal yesterday in the Blue Room of City Hall, one flight up from the snappy new Snapple machine that was installed in the basement a few days ago.

You may have heard about the dispute between the mayor and the city comptroller over this machine and its brethren, thousands of which are supposed to bloom in public buildings. But you may not know how daunting this Snapple contraption can be.

Don't know about you, but this was the first such device in my experience to carry a death warning.

"Never rock or tilt," a notice said. "Machine can fall over causing serious injury or death."

Holy mackerel! Hanging around this machine could be hazardous. Wisdom dictated a retreat to the safety of the Blue Room, where Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was holding forth on his spending plans for 2005.

He stood at a lectern for an hour, never once smiling or cracking even a small joke. Then again, it must be hard to find something funny to say when you are talking about spending $46.9 billion. That figure may be even more daunting than a Snapple machine.

Look at it this way. The city intends to spend $89,231.35 of your money every single minute. It makes no difference if you happen to be hard at work, or in the shower, or visiting Aunt Abigail. The municipal meter will keep running.

The numbers being tossed around in the Blue Room were so enormous that a lazy brain's attention soon turned to the perplexing matter of Mr. Bloomberg's popularity, or lack of it.

The latest New York Times Poll shows that, compared with about a year ago, more New Yorkers approve of the job he is doing. He got a thumbs-up from 38 percent in the survey, not a fantastic number but better than his dismal 24 percent approval rating last June.

Yet only 27 percent said Mr. Bloomberg deserved re-election. Let's see. If we have this right, 11 percent - 38 minus 27 - like the way he is handling himself but want him out.

What is one to make of that? Is it a way of sending City Hall an amazingly subtle message? Or could it be that some people can't begin to figure out what they want, for all the standard political blather about the collective wisdom of the voters?

In 2001, New Yorkers chose a hugely successful businessman over a career politician because they wanted his know-how to pull them out of their worst fiscal jam in years. They did not elect Mr. Bloomberg because they necessarily deemed him Mr. Personality.

So he did what he said he would do; and the city's finances, not without taxpayer pain, are in much better shape than three years ago. But sometimes, as an Irving Berlin song goes, "after you get what you want, you don't want it."

From many New Yorkers, the prevailing mantra is that the billionaire Mr. Bloomberg doesn't get it, that he seems cold, that he is out of touch. To borrow from Douglas Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, " 'Michael Bloomberg' and 'charisma' will not be found in the same Google search."

BUT might another factor be in play? Is it possible that voters have a problem with super-rich politicians who are self-made, even while they give a pass to those who inherited great wealth?

Relatively few people make much of the gobs of money that fell by birthright to members of what Donald Trump and others have called "the lucky sperm club," politicians with names like Rockefeller, Kennedy and Bush. But someone like Mr. Bloomberg, who made it on his own, is endlessly slammed for being rich.

Professor Muzzio didn't think much of this theory. But Mitchell Moss, an urban-affairs specialist at New York University and an adviser to Mr. Bloomberg, saw some merit.

The relentless drive needed to amass enormous wealth from scratch can be a turn-off for many people. "In this city," Professor Moss said, "it's O.K. to be rich if you haven't done what's required to be rich."

Dwelling on this was enough to build up a thirst. So it was back to the Snapple machine, which bore another sign. "All money removed from this machine daily," it said.

Why every day? Is there a crime wave at City Hall that has escaped notice? Who knows?

But the sign made the machine seem suddenly almost human. Having money removed daily gives it something in common with a New York taxpayer.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 27th, 2004, 11:01 AM

He did a great job with a failing budget during a time of econoimic and social upheval.

Lets get rid of him. ;)

/me take sip of Snapple raspberry Tea.....

June 7th, 2004, 02:39 PM
The Money of Politics and the Mayor


Published: June 7, 2004

The mayor and his prospective opponents have one thing in common. They have money problems, although different kinds.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has the enviable problem of having too much money, so much that he spent $73 million of his own to win election in 2001 and is prepared to spend what he has to next year. That has its benefits but also hurts the mayor with many voters who still see him as detached from the realities of their lives.

His opponents' problem is not having as much money as they want, especially if they participate - as expected - in the city's public financing system. The voluntary system imposes contribution and spending limits on participants, who get $4 from the city for every $1 raised, for a spending maximum of $5.728 million in the primary and the same in the general election. If they are running against a high-spender who is not participating in the system, they get a bonus 5-to-1 city match and can spend whatever they can raise in contributions of no more than $4,950.

Candidates want to raise as much as allowed and are not shy about taking donations from people who do business with the city, known in the vernacular as influence peddlers.

Mr. Bloomberg, who does not need their largess, wants to reduce the influence of the pay-to-players by limiting their contributions.

His corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, is taking the idea to the Campaign Finance Board this week, to begin drafting a formal proposal, probably a bill to go to the City Council, whose speaker, Gifford Miller, has mayoral aspirations.

Now, what legislature, led by an ambitious fellow with his eyes on the top job, would approve a reform proposed by the person who will not partake of the very system that he wants to reform?

There are technical complications inherent in Mr. Bloomberg's proposal, but this political equation has to be the central problem. In fact, prospective mayoral candidates or their spokesmen have already been most uncharitable about the mayor's plan. How to overcome the opposition?

There's one obvious, if unlikely, path. The City Council is considering changes in the law, including a proposal by the Campaign Finance Board to create a new "limited participant" category. Limited participants would voluntarily abide by the spending limits and public disclosure rules in the law, even if they did not take public dollars. A candidate like Mr. Bloomberg would write his own checks, but spend no more than the candidates who are participating in the program do - $5.728 million during the primaries and again in the general election.

Some prospective opponents and council members, so quick to disparage the very idea of Mr. Bloomberg trying to reform a program he doesn't participate in, would at least be robbed of their main argument against his proposal. Given how much money some get from lobbyists and others who deal with the city, they would no doubt miss having that convenient excuse. What better incentive for the mayor to force the issue than by voluntarily accepting the finance law's spending limits?

"He's entitled to spend his own money," said his communications director, William T. Cunningham. "It's silly to suggest we can't offer public policy ideas because we are not participating in the program."

But the mayor's argument would have more credibility if he agreed to be a limited participant and to spend no more than his opponents do.

Technical difficulties have impeded proposals similar to the mayor's in the past. In the late 1980's, limiting contributions to members of the old Board of Estimate from people who did business with the city proved impossible to monitor.

The Campaign Finance Board concluded two years ago that it would have difficulty today enforcing a similar rule, in part because the board regulates candidates, not contributors, and has limited access to the necessary data.

Even supporters of the idea say it is complicated. How to define what "business" is, for instance?

"I never want to say no to strengthening the law, but I'm skeptical," said Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

But Mr. Cardozo is optimistic, and the finance board's executive director, Nicole A. Gordon, said the board was "entirely interested and open to any recommendations."

If the lawyers can work out the kinks and if the mayor would face up to those money problems of his, he might just shame the City Council, forcing it and its ambitious speaker into a corner of reform.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 7th, 2004, 02:47 PM
A candidate like Mr. Bloomberg would write his own checks, but spend no more than the candidates who are participating in the program do - $5.728 million during the primaries and again in the general election.

I don't think Bloomberg will like to hear about this change in the law. :roll:

June 9th, 2004, 10:38 PM
June 9, 2004

Mayor's approval rating continues to rise

Associated Press Writer

First-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg's latest approval ratings among blacks and Hispanics remain negative despite improvement, the latest Quinnipiac University poll finds.

Bloomberg's overall approval rating rose to 50 percent for the first time in two years — fueled largely by white respondents who approve of his job performance by a 60-29 percent margin, Quinnipiac said Wednesday.

Pollsters asked voters: "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Michael Bloomberg is handling his job as mayor?"

A 60 percent approval among white voters shows a sharp reversal from his all-time low in May 2003 when only 41 percent of whites answered in the affirmative and 46 percent in the negative.

Among blacks — who comprised his strongest opposition voting bloc when the Republican mayor won in 2001 — 38 percent said they approved of his performance and 47 percent said they did not.

Those findings are close to what they were in March.

Disapproval for the incumbent mayor appears to have eased, however, from the survey a year ago when 65 percent of blacks surveyed disapproved and only 25 percent approved of the job he was doing.

Among Hispanics, the number was similar to that among blacks, with 39 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving. That compares to a 22-66 percent deficit at Bloomberg's low point last year.

According to Quinnipiac, 1,226 registered voters were surveyed from June 1 to Monday. The results have a statistical margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

The long-running difference in political perception among the city's racial and ethnic groups looms as a factor in next year's mayoral race as Fernando Ferrer tries again to become mayor.

Once again, the poll shows the former Bronx borough president would defeat Bloomberg, 45 to 39 percent, if a head-to-head contest were held now. Other potential Democratic candidates track close to Bloomberg or slightly behind him.

"Mayor Bloomberg's approval is inching up," said Maruice Carroll, director of the Connecticut college's polling institute. "But there has been little change in the mayoral matchups and probably won't be until the campaigning and the spending begins in earnest."

Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

June 9th, 2004, 11:09 PM
I kind of like Bloomberg. Although I don't know too much about the other candidates I must confess. I like Bloomberg for his support for development in the city so far.

June 9th, 2004, 11:51 PM
Bloomberg's rating hits best level in two years

June 9, 2004

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's approval rating hit 50% for the first time in nearly two years, according to a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University.

New York City voters told Quinnipiac that they approve 50% to 38% of the job Mr. Bloomberg is doing, compared with a 47%-38% rating in March. The last time the mayor's approval rating was at 50% or higher was in July 2002, when it reached 57%. His approval rating hit a low of 31% in July 2003.

In a theoretical matchup with city Comptroller William Thompson, the mayor would get re-elected 41% to 38%. Mr. Thompson has said that he would consider running for mayor if Mr. Bloomberg's approval rating stayed between 30% and 40%.

Voters gave Police Commissioner Ray Kelly an approval rating of 67% to 16%, unchanged from March, and Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta got a 51%-to-17% rating. Fifty-seven percent of voters, versus 34%, said the two departments can work together better to deal with a major terrorist attack--virtually unchanged from their pre-Sept. 11, 2001 opinion.

From June 1-7, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,226 city registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%.

Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

June 9th, 2004, 11:53 PM
June 10, 2004

Bloomberg's Approval Rating Is Up, Poll Shows


Half of New York City voters approve of the way Michael R. Bloomberg is handling his job, the mayor's highest rating in two years, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,226 registered voters found that 50 percent approved of Mr. Bloomberg's performance and 38 percent disapproved. That is an improvement in his approval rating of 3 percentage points since March and 19 points since last July, when the same poll found that 60 percent of voters disapproved of his performance.

"Mayor Bloomberg has been on a steady climb back to the approval numbers he enjoyed when he was the new guy in City Hall," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The poll, conducted last week, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. It also showed that Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican, continues to lag in opinion surveys of blacks and Hispanics, although his numbers there are improving. His approval rating was 60 percent among whites, 38 percent among blacks and 39 percent among Hispanics.

The low point in Mr. Bloomberg's approval ratings was last July, which coincided with a city budget crisis that resulted in an 18.5 percent property tax increase and deep spending cuts. This year, the mayor has benefited from an improving economy, a falling crime rate and wide support of his proposed $400 property tax rebate for homeowners.

Pollsters also found that Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire, continues to suffer from the impression that he cannot relate to average New Yorkers. Fifty-two percent of voters said they do not believe he cares about their needs and problems.

Edward Skyler, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said the overall poll results showed that "the mayor is leading the city in the right direction."

Labor Demands Cast a Rich Mayor in a Miserly Light


Each June, labor protests are to New York City as dogwood blossoms are to the rest of the Northeast; spring would seem a bit empty without them.

A confluence of labor actions this week - three-day strikes held by day care workers and home health aides, and a protest that drew tens of thousands of firefighters, police officers and teachers outside City Hall - underscored the unusually painful headache that unions present to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

In a week in which Mr. Bloomberg saw his approval figures edge above 50 percent, the labor strife provided a stark reminder that the mayor has a deeply antagonistic relationship with large swaths of unionized workers. The unions, in turn, have found a sharp knife to insert in Mr. Bloomberg's weakest spot - his image as a wealthy and impervious Daddy Warbucks unsympathetic to the wage demands of the home health worker making $7 an hour or the patrol officer making $37,000 a year.

During the rally on Tuesday, the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, bellowed: "We are not asking to be rich like you, Mr. Mayor. All we're asking for is to make our lives better for our families."

While few New York voters are likely to cast their vote on the basis of a few labor protests, the demonstrations do symbolize what increasingly appears to be the central, if not singular, impediment to Mr. Bloomberg's re-election bid.

The fact is that millions of New Yorkers, whether they have gotten over their higher taxes or have learned to do their smoking on the street, still insist that the mayor's wealth separates him spiritually from the rest of the city. And unions give those sentiments a voice.

"The whole situation is unique," said Josh Freeman, a professor of labor history at Queens College. "To have a billionaire as mayor is a very unusual situation, and I think there have been some efforts to get at the mayor on this populist ground."

Yesterday, day care workers at 350 centers that serve more than 30,000 low-income children began a three-day strike, an action that started a day after the huge labor protest demanding raises for police, firefighters and teachers. Each group is negotiating with the city against the backdrop of a recently ratified contract between the city and its largest labor union, District Council 37. Under that agreement, workers would receive a $1,000 one-time cash payment instead of a raise the first year of the contract, a 3 percent raise in the second year and 2 percent the third. The Bloomberg administration believes that contract sets the pattern for agreements with the other unions, though the other unions have dismissed those terms as insufficient.

Mr. Bloomberg is in a particularly difficult situation with teachers and day care workers. The latter, who care primarily for children of the poor, have been without a contract since April 2000 and without a raise since December 2000, and are among the city's lowest-paid workers. They are not municipal workers, but their employers are heavily financed by the city, and their plight draws attention to the sorts of economic disparities that Mr. Bloomberg's opponents may seize on once the election draws closer.

The negotiations with the teachers may become more complicated because a recent court decision declared that the city was entitled to more state education funds from Albany. The teachers, naturally, feel that part of any increase in funds should end up in their paychecks. This is not lost on the administration. "That is a real issue," one official said.

Mr. Bloomberg, who takes pains not to attack his adversaries publicly, has derided unions either gently, by suggesting that they stop protesting and start bargaining, or more pointedly, as he often does with Mr. Lynch, the police union official with whom he has a deeply frosty relationship.

"We have gone from a cold war to hot war," said Randi Weingarten, the president of the teachers' union, who said Tuesday's protest was the largest gathering of union members at City Hall in recent memory, something that political experts and Bloomberg officials do not dispute.

"There is some talk about his wealth," she said. "But John F. Kennedy certainly was wealthy, but there was a connect there with the people. I have no idea why Mayor Bloomberg doesn't have that."

Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, said the mayor was not concerned with union leaders waging a class-based attack. "The public is going to judge the mayor on his record, not on somebody's else's rhetoric," he said.

Many labor leaders have been extremely frustrated by their inability to influence Mr. Bloomberg at the bargaining table with a promise of an endorsement in 2005, administration and union officials said. Mr. Bloomberg squeaked to victory in 2001 with just a single union backing him.

The mayor does have a better relationship with the private-sector unions, like the union that represents hotel and restaurant workers and construction trade groups.

"Initially our relationship was not that good," said Edward J. Malloy, president of the Building Construction Trades Council, but, he added, there are "a lot of projects slated for the West Side, which brings in a lot of tax revenue that supplements the operational budget of the city and benefits all city workers."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 10th, 2004, 09:31 AM

June 10, 2004

Political rivals who assumed Mayor Bloomberg was going to be a pushover in the next race got a jolt yesterday when a new poll showed his approval rating at 50 percent — the highest it's been in two years.

"There's definitely a feeling around that Bloomberg's on a roll," said Jerry Skurnik, a veteran political consultant.

Bloomberg hit the critical 50 percent mark in a poll of 1,226 registered voters conducted June 1-7 by Quinnipiac University. On the flip side, 38 percent said they disapproved of the mayor's job performance.

Those were Bloomberg's best numbers since July 17, 2002, when voters were still giving the freshly elected mayor high grades.

Bloomberg hit rock bottom a year ago after raising property taxes by 18.5 percent. Voters reacted with thumbs way down — by 2-to-1 — in a July 2, 2003 poll.

But things have changed considerably over the last 12 months.

"The economy's getting better and now he's talking about tax rebates," said pollster Maurice Carroll.

By 55 percent to 43 percent, voters said they were satisfied with the direction of the city.

Opponents, however, weren't swayed.

"Bloomberg is vulnerable and that's clear," declared Queens City Councilman Eric Gioia, a close Democratic ally of probable mayoral contender Gifford Miller, the council speaker.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn, Queens), another mayoral hopeful, noted that nearly every Democrat matched against Bloomberg was right on his heels — the challengers were hovering just below 40 percent with the mayor just above 40.

Fernando Ferrer actually beat Bloomberg, 45 to 39 percent.

"The numbers for anyone but Bloomberg stay pretty steady," said Weiner.

"The bottom line is we're a year out, people know him very well and a large number of people don't like him."

Indeed, in what seems to be a chronic complaint, most voters said the billionaire mayor isn't in touch with "the problems of ordinary New Yorkers."

Asked if Bloomberg "cares about the needs and problems of people like you," only 40 percent of those surveyed said yes. Fifty-two percent answered "no."

On another issue, New Yorkers said the Police and Fire departments are better equipped to work together now to combat a terrorist attack than they were before 9/11.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc

June 10th, 2004, 12:04 PM
Half of the city not hating you is "booming"?

June 10th, 2004, 01:33 PM
He gained 20% in 6 months. That's booming!

June 10th, 2004, 01:48 PM
Half of the city liking you is booming, regardless of what the others think.

We saw that happen in the Presidential Election where less than half the people liked Bush, but due to many factors (one of which being Nader) Gore did not win.

So if 50% like him, that is a good thing.

Plus that whole 6 month thing there.....

June 11th, 2004, 12:36 AM
Well, there's that other 38% of city residents who hate his guts. :wink:

June 27th, 2004, 12:46 AM
June 27, 2004

All Q. and No A. at City Hall


MAYOR BLOOMBERG, the 108th mayor of New York, may go down in history as a financial wizard who helped keep the city afloat when it was drowning in debt. But it should also be noted that, in certain ways, he was one of the most inaccessible mayors in the last half-century.

He has press conferences. He makes speeches. He occasionally meets with the editorial boards of newspapers. But his press conferences are very limited. The man who built a media empire for himself shows great disdain for the representatives of the news media who try to question him at City Hall - or elsewhere.

While Mr. Bloomberg's schedule calls for question-and-answer sessions with reporters, he generally permits just one question per reporter - and this limits information drastically. If a reporter tries to follow up on an answer, Mr. Bloomberg ducks by swiftly pointing to another reporter, inviting a change in subject.

As a reporter who has covered nine mayors over the last 54 years, I know that public figures don't always answer the question they're asked. For this reason, follow-up questions are essential because they often force officials to cough up information that they might otherwise withhold.

The mayor's approach is particularly dispiriting because his predecessors have been far more forthcoming in their press conferences. It's true that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani barred video cameras south of Canal Street after the Sept. 11 attacks. Mr. Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly, deserve praise for opening up the streets again. In the Blue Room at City Hall, however, it's another story.

Mr. Bloomberg's role as czar of a multibillion-dollar company gave him experience in ruling over his own board. But apparently it didn't prepare him for the scrutiny the press exercises as a First Amendment right. Although Mayor Giuliani could be combative, as a skilled lawyer, he seemed to enjoy jousting with journalists. David Dinkins may not have always enjoyed it, but he felt it was his duty to answer all questions at a news conference. And Ed Koch was delighted to spar with reporters. He thought he could get the better of any one of us.

I'm not the only one who has noticed Mr. Bloomberg's question rationing. On the day after the long-awaited budget agreement was announced, a reporter complained that Mr. Bloomberg allowed only five questions at a press conference. Another reporter, Dominick Carter of New York 1, told me that the only way to get the mayor to take a follow-up question is to shout and make a spectacle of yourself. Richard Steier of The Chief, the weekly newspaper for municipal employees, says a reporter often can get by an initial evasion by other public officials with a follow-up question, but that doesn't happen with this mayor. A reporter for a major newspaper says, "I think maybe Bloomberg is trying to avoid putting his foot in his mouth."

The mayor isn't the only one to blame. The press, after all, is letting him get away with this behavior. The mayor has his job and we have ours: to stop the filibuster, to cut through the spin, to clear out the press-conference fog.

I remember when New York reporters, even the uninformed ones, were tough, feisty, irreverent. Some of the younger reporters today seem not to know those days ever existed. They have grown up in the authoritarian eras of Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.

Journalism is a competitive business. But I would love to see reporters, in the spirit of solidarity, back each other up. If the mayor brushes a journalist off after one question, it would be good if another reporter followed up that question. If the mayor balks again, a third person should stay on the case. If the mayor really wants to clear the air with the press, the New York Press Club invites him to a forum where he can air his grievances and we can air ours.

Mutual understanding would be helpful. But it would be good for both politicians and journalists if the old adversarial spirit were reborn. It might bring out the best in all of us. And the people are entitled to no less.

Gabe Pressman is president of the New York Press Club Foundation and a senior correspondent for WNBC-TV.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 21st, 2004, 01:10 AM
July 21, 2004

How's He Doing? This Mayor Offers 47 Pages of Answers


Abolish the Board of Education? Done.

Renovate police precinct stations? Not done.

Banish the City Hall press corps to Staten Island? Reconsidered.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's second annual report card on himself - his personal record of keeping, amending or breaking 381 promises he made during his 2001 campaign - is a mix of the serious, the mundane and the fanciful. By his own reckoning, Mr. Bloomberg improved his record from a year ago, having now fulfilled, or come close to fulfilling, 86 percent of his pledges.

Whereas Mayor Edward I. Koch just asked "How'm I doing?" to check the pulse of public approval, Mr. Bloomberg, in more technocratic fashion, released a 47-page spreadsheet yesterday entitled "2004 Campaign Accountability Statement," complete with codes, categories and year-to-year updates detailing each promise and its current status.

"We're releasing this status report on all our initiatives," the mayor said, "because I've always believed that when you make a promise, if you possibly can you keep the promise. Meeting that obligation is what every elected official ought to do."

The report was presented in the political theater of a street-corner news conference that even included the Brooklyn security guard, Anthony Santa Maria, whose skeptical comments to Mr. Bloomberg about politicians' truthfulness during the 2001 campaign inspired the mayor to track his own veracity. Even so, the report is rigorously apolitical, since rather than trumpet the biggest accomplishments first, it lists everything alphabetically by city agency.

As a result, the first item in the "done" column is a little-remembered promise to "make all relevant information available to the court at the earliest possible moment," which falls under the purview of the criminal justice coordinator. The last item in the "not done" category is a plan for the city to "take advantage of tax laws that allow interest and depreciation deductibility for privately owned buildings."

Among the most significant of the 196 vows he says he has fulfilled, Mr. Bloomberg lists starting the 311 telephone information and complaint system, new policies for holding superintendents and principals accountable for their schools' performances, and continuing efforts to reduce crime. Promises he said he was forced to reconsider include not raising taxes and not borrowing money to help balance the budget, both of which he abandoned after taking office with multibillion-dollar deficits.

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the mayor, said the list, first released a year ago, was compiled by aides who searched for every pledge made by Mr. Bloomberg in 2001. Last year's report contained one fewer.

He said the new item was the tongue-in-cheek proposal to move the City Hall press room outside Manhattan.

"That's been reconsidered," Mr. Barowitz said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

September 19th, 2004, 08:22 AM

Bloomberg Secret: Kerry Win May Be His Happy Ending

by Ben Smith

After this November’s election, win or lose, Democratic ad man Bill Knapp will wrap up his "John Kerry for President" account. He’ll file away the combative television advertisements he helped create, with lines like "George Bush’s wrong choices have weakened us here at home" and "George Bush: Denounce the smear. Get back to the issues. America deserves better."

Then Mr. Knapp, one of the Democratic Party’s most sought-after operatives, will start work on next year’s most lucrative client: New York’s Republican Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

In a bitterly partisan time, Mayor Bloomberg has stubbornly refused to take sides in the national debate—or even to acknowledge that there are sides. The next six weeks, and the year’s election cycle beyond, will be a test of his ability to stand with one foot on either side of a widening gap. Earlier this month, he was riding in a limousine away from Madison Square Garden with President George W. Bush. Soon, he’ll have one of the President’s most capable attackers on the payroll—hardly a standard move for one of the nation’s most prominent Republicans. Though Mr. Bloomberg has said he’ll vote for Mr. Bush, his stances on most issues are closer to Mr. Kerry’s, and he has surrounded himself with Democrats. (And, after all, would anyone would if he actually pulled the lever for Mr. Kerry in the curtained-off voting booth on Election Day?)

It’s not just his personal views and his choice of aides that bind him to Mr. Kerry; Mr. Bloomberg also stands to gain from a Kerry win. Democratic administrations typically spend money in big cities, and New York Mayors like the Republican Fiorello La Guardia have turned that spending to their advantage. The Bush tax cuts—though they poured money into the city’s economy—seem not to have won the Mayor or the President much local support. Replacing Mr. Bush, some speculate, would also be a boost to New York’s hopes of hosting the 2012 Olympics, dominated as the International Olympic Committee is by Europeans who are hostile to the President. A re-elected Mr. Bush, meanwhile, could also be a drag on Mr. Bloomberg’s own re-election bid.

"Bush’s re-election would be a good thing for the local Democrats," said Fred Siegel, a Cooper Union historian. "If Bush wins, they’ll use it to tar Bloomberg."

Democrats also suggested that Mr. Bloomberg could be hurt by a wave of Democratic anger, money and talent migrating north from Washington if Mr. Bush is re-elected. A Kerry victory, by contrast, would defuse the anti-Bush sentiment that’s particularly pronounced in New York—and might even draw some of his Democratic rivals to jobs in Washington.

" If George Bush wins, Democrats are going to be more furious and focused than ever, and in New York they’re going to be looking to take it out on their local Republican elected official," said one prominent Democratic strategist in Washington.

That drumbeat has already begun, as Mr. Bloomberg’s likely Democrat rivals reveled in his exposure at the Republican National Convention.

"The guy Bloomberg’s been supporting, and the party he’s been supporting and earning his stripes in, has been awful for this city," said former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer. "The public record is replete with evidence that he’s supported him in a full-throated way."

"Mike Bloomberg would be hurt by a George Bush win, because New Yorkers know that the Mayor’s fellow Republicans turn their backs on New York City every chance they get," said Stephen Sigmund, the spokesman for City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

Mr. Bloomberg’s spokesman, Ed Skyler, shot back that it’s a tribute to the Mayor’s record that Democrats are attacking him on his party affiliation.

"If that’s all they have, bring it on," he said. "To quote John Kerry."

At the convention, however, Mr. Bloomberg worked to counter the perception that he marches in step with President Bush, whose approval rating in New York City stood at a subterranean 25 percent in August, with 70 percent disapproving, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters. Though the Mayor has said he backs Mr. Bush’s approach to terrorism and to Israel, "we made it clear to the Bush camp and the convention people that we were not seeing the Mayor’s role as a surrogate," said a Bloomberg aide. "It was very clear: Don’t put us on Crossfire to talk about Iraq."

Mr. Bloomberg did greet the President heartily in his opening speech: "The President deserves our support. We are here to support him, and I am here to support him," he said. But the Mayor never appeared in public with Mr. Bush. Photographers caught him in the shadows, seated in a limousine with Mr. Bush standing outside. During some of the convention’s more rabid speeches, Mr. Bloomberg sat stone-faced, hardly clapping as the Republican faithful around him exploded in applause. He also made a point to attend only a handful of Republican Party events: one for gay Republicans, one for Republicans who support abortion rights, and one for the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC.

At the Sunday event of the gay group, the Log Cabin Republicans, Mr. Bloomberg took a shot at the Federal Marriage Amendment, which Mr. Bush supports.

"I don’t think we should ever use the Constitution to drive wedges between us," he said. And he seemed to get more rebellious as the week progressed, telling reporters, "I certainly disagree with the administration on a lot of things."

Mr. Bloomberg then absorbed what seemed from City Hall’s perspective a gratuitous slap from the White House: the President’s high-profile endorsement from the Uniformed Firefighters Association, which is locked in a bitter contract fight with the city, but whose members also served as a nice reminder of the President’s visit to Ground Zero soon after Sept. 11, 2001. On the convention’s final night, Mr. Bloomberg was the rare Republican official who turned down an invitation to sit in the President’s box just above the convention floor.

Even as Mr. Bloomberg keeps his distance from the President, however, he’s not a complete maverick. He’s told his mostly Democratic staff not to campaign for Mr. Bush’s rivals.

An irritated Mr. Bloomberg first took notice of the issue this winter, during the Democratic primary race. That’s when his Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, Gretchen Dykstra, traveled to New Hampshire to volunteer for Gen. Wesley Clark’s short-lived bid for the nomination. It was a visible role in Democratic politics for a visible member of his administration, and while it didn’t violate city ethics rules, Mr. Bloomberg drew a line.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Mayor summoned all his agency chiefs to City Hall’s Blue Room for a morning meeting. There, according to people in attendance, he repeated a promise not to inquire into anyone’s party affiliation, and joked about his own tenuous links to the Republican Party. But then, with Ms. Dykstra’s case in the air, he reminded the officials that they are public figures, and that their political actions could embarrass him. The implication was clear, and Mr. Bloomberg’s aides have stayed well below the political radar since then.

A week later was the Democratic primary; three of his five deputy mayors—Dennis Walcott, Dan Doctoroff and Patricia Harris—quietly cast their votes in a race that Mr. Kerry carried with 66 percent of the vote.

The Democrats on the Mayor’s staff have largely followed his tacit instruction to keep their politics quiet. Though some of his aides have contributed to Democrats in the past, only Ms. Dykstra did this time around, giving $500 to General Clark in February and $200 to Mr. Kerry in May. The administration’s few Republicans have apparently felt less restrained. Two of Mr. Bloomberg’s aides, Community Affairs chief Jonathan Greenspun and senior advisor Shea Fink, have given money to Mr. Bush’s campaign, as have the Mayor and his daughter Emma.

As Mr. Bush leads in the polls, local Democrats continue to take some consolation in the thought that his re-election might damage Mr. Bloomberg. But perhaps the Mayor can take heart in the story of Mr. Knapp, the Democratic ad man—he’s been down the same road. In 2001, he spliced together footage of prominent city Democrats attacking Mr. Bloomberg’s rival, Public Advocate Mark Green, to create one of Mr. Bloomberg’s most effective advertisements. At the time, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, angrily chided the consultant.

"If I have anything to say about it, people who partake in those activities will no longer get business with this committee," he thundered.

But election-year passions soon faded, and Mr. Knapp—who also played a key role in the campaign of Al Gore—was welcomed back into the fold. Before coming to Mr. Kerry’s campaign in May, the consultant was on retainer for a nominally independent anti-Bush group, the Media Fund.

Mr. Knapp’s first spot for the Media Fund had the Bush campaign crying foul. But effective as it was judged, he’ll have to shift gears for Mr. Bloomberg’s self-financed campaign next year, whose slogan is unlikely to be the Media Fund’s rallying cry: "It’s time to take our country back from corporate greed."

You may reach Ben Smith via email at: bensmith@observer.com.