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Thread: Gloom For Bloomberg

  1. #46

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    June 10, 2004

    Bloomberg's Approval Rating Is Up, Poll Shows

    By MIKE McINTIRE

    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

    By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

    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

  2. #47
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    BLOOMBERG BOOMING

    By DAVID SEIFMAN
    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

  3. #48

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    Half of the city not hating you is "booming"?

  4. #49
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    He gained 20% in 6 months. That's booming!

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    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.....

  6. #51

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    Well, there's that other 38% of city residents who hate his guts. :wink:

  7. #52

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    June 27, 2004

    All Q. and No A. at City Hall

    By GABE PRESSMAN

    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

  8. #53

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    July 21, 2004

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

    By MIKE McINTIRE

    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

  9. #54

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    http://www.observer.com/index_go.html

    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.

    COPYRIGHT © 2004
    THE NEW YORK OBSERVER

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