Hallo, Schadenfrau, wie geht's ?
May 8, 2003
He's No Politician, Bloomberg Insists, and the Polls Agree
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
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
Hallo, Schadenfrau, wie geht's ?
Schlecht, dank zu Bloomberg!
I don't speak German...
That's okay. Neither do I, really.
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.
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.
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.
I think mayors 15 years from now are going to be very grateful.
Only 15 years from now?
Former mayor Ed Koch has thrown his voice into Bloomberg's future:
Mike will be one-term wonder, Koch predicts
By DANIEL DUNAIEF and MICHAEL SAUL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
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.
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 16, 2003
Hey Mayor: Where Are Sunny Days?
By CLYDE HABERMAN
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
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 ?
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.
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.