Bloomberg for Mayor

Either one of the two leading candidates for mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg and Fernando Ferrer, would make a good leader. Mr. Ferrer led the Bronx through a tremendous economic revitalization that he may rightly take some of the credit for. He is tactically right to attack Mayor Bloomberg’s public support for President Bush, but I’m not convinced that Mayor Bloomberg is a true Republican at heart, or that his endorsements of Republican policies are anything more than perfunctory nods to curry favor with official Washington. True, as the Republican mayor of the convention’s host city, the mayor spoke at the RNC, but he received only polite applause and gave it his minimum effort and attention. Much more importantly, I’ve been impressed with four of Mayor Bloomberg’s transportation and land use decisions in his first term, and these will lead me to vote for him a second time.

  • His veto of the City Council’s vote to disable parking meters on Sundays. This bill, which passed despite his veto, will cost the city millions of dollars in lost revenue and will add yet another subsidy to motorists. It will encourage people to hog up spaces all day long and with fewer spaces available, people will spend more time driving around looking for parking, adding to congestion and pollution on neighorhood streets.
  • His hesitant attempt early in his administration to place tolls on the East River Bridges. One hopes that as a second-termer without the hope of being re-elected, Mayor Bloomberg would take this important but politically unpopular step to discourage traffic and boost city revenue. More.
  • His veto of the City Council’s vote against landmarking the Cathedral Church of St. John the Devine but not its grounds. Had it not been overridden by the City Council, the Mayor’s action would have helped create a more vibrant neighborhood in lower Morningside Heights and a financially and structurally healthier Cathedral.
  • His use of the Lexington Avenue subway to get to work. Unlike his predecessor, who traveled around town in a menacing SUV with tinted windows, Mayor Bloomberg rides the subway, with the people. It’s unclear whether he rides the train to work every day, but still, this restores the people’s confidence in the subway and tacitly reminds people that it’s the best way to get around the city (short of bicycling or walking). It also gives the mayor a more visceral understanding of how crowded the Lexington Avenue lines are and how critical it is to get to work building the Second Avenue Subway to alleviate this.

    Because of these actions, the mayor has proven himself a responsible thinker with the whole city in mind on a number of land use and transportation issues where the Democratically controlled City Council has not. Hopefully a second term would see a more emboldened Mayor who might have the political capital to push for congestion pricing, which has radically altered the streets of London, and would work here too.

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    8 Responses to Bloomberg for Mayor

    1. Anonymous says:

      oh my, if this is the best Bloomberg’s got maybe Ferrer will win.

      For a little more insite on the differences in the candidates on bigger topics than just parking meteres and a church (like billion dollar land deals, affordable housing, and civil rights) be sure to read Daily News Columnists Juan Gonzalez’s analysis of the candidates…full text at indymedia:

      http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2005/11/59603.html

    2. Anonymous says:

      what is the irony level that you endorse Bloomberg and yet have links to Freewheels and TimesUp! in your left menu???

    3. mike says:

      Aaron- What about the cross-harbor freight tunnel?

    4. AD says:

      To anonymous 1, Hahah. I never said I was the best endorser. These may be silly issues, but I should have taken the time to mention some bigger ones, like the Mayor’s fighting of Upper East Side NIMBYism to promote a plan to reduce truck traffic by 3 million vehicle miles traveled per year by transferring waste to barges. This will also eliminate some environmental injustices going on in places like the South Bronx, which bears a disproportionate burden of waste management facilities under the current system. Or I could have mentioned Mayor Bloomberg’s enormous affordable housing accomplishments affecting neighborhoods everywhere seem to travel in the city, and his ambitions to continue this.

      Juan Gonzalez is a thoughtful and perceptive columnist. His best point, in my opinion, is this: “Many of those tax breaks are guaranteed for 20 or 30 years, and often the discounted Payments in Lieu of Taxes (or PILOTs) that the developers agree to pay are then earmarked to finance new mega-projects such as paying off bonds for sports facilities or to spur more luxury housing or high rise office buildings, and they are assigned to quasi-public agencies that resist public accountabililty. By siphoning off those tax streams for decades to come, Bloomberg, like Giuliani on a smaller scale before him, is effectively dismantling the tax base that future mayors and city councils will need for the city’s operating needs.” Bloomberg and NYC operate in a national and international competition where cities compete for footloose private investment. So the criticism Gonzalez levels here is first and foremost a criticism of the overarching order in which the city is a part. The end result of the policies Gonzalez criticizes when pursued everywhere is a race to the bottom toward ever more public impoverishment and private inequality. But the local result of opting out of the system is a loss of important private investment. While a restructuring of the global system would be the best for the most people, that ain’t gonna happen no matter who wins this election. It is better to compete well in an unfortunate system than to give up the fight and allow other cities and regions to syphon investment away from our great city.

      Anonymous 2: I guess it is somewhat ironic. No question: The NYPD’s policy of arresting Critical Mass bike riders is an egregious waste of resources in a city where actual crimes are being committed. I should have addressed this in the endorsement. He’s wrong on that issue, but right on many others, so it’s not enough to invalidate the endorsement, in my opinion.

      Mike: Yep, that is a critical project, along with the Second Avenue Subway and the 7 Line Extention, and to lesser extents, the LIRR to the Financial District and/or Grand Central Terminal, and Access to the Region’s Core. Who’s more likely to support it, and who’s more likely to be able to get it funded? I can’t seem to find anything on either candidat’s web site about the freight tunnel. My hunch is that Bloomberg would be more likely to have the wherewithal to get it funded, but that yes, Ferrer may be more predisposed toward supporting it. These are just hunches though.

    5. mike says:

      Except that Mayor Mike has (shocker) changed his position on it b/c of resistance to the tunnel in Republican Maspeth and Middle Village. His EDC was in full support of it, even completing the environmental scoping process, and then he pulled the plug right as Nadler obtained federal funding to engineer the project!

      But granted, I have no idea where Ferrer stands on this. Much like everything else.

    6. mike says:

      wait- I just found an email I got from WFP promoting Ferrer’s support of Cross Harbor.

      in terms of sustainable development, I really do find this race a toss-up.

    7. AD says:

      Mike,

      Yeah, wow. I forgot about that debacle. The mayor and EDC need to be made aware of how important that project is for the city’s health. That probably involves reverse-lobbying the NIMBY opponents.

    8. Anonymous says:

      Harlem Geography: People should really take a look at a map of NYC, preferably Harlem before commenting, so I say “Bravo!” for straightening out the Real Estate Weekly! Maybe they should have asked a resident or a business that has existed in Harlem for decades.