Sunday, August 23, 2009

Looking again at the New Yorker's Bloomberg profile--what's missing?

I took a second read of the past week's New Yorker profile of Mayor Mike Bloomberg, headlined THE UNTOUCHABLE: Can a good mayor amass too much power? and was struck by the absence of a significant critique.

Yes, as I wrote, had the profile encompassed public authorities reform and delved into Atlantic Yards, it could've been much tougher. But writer Ben McGrath gave Bloomberg too much of a bye.

Consider these passages:
Many in the city’s political class believe that he’s been a good, if overrated, executive, and acknowledge that his ability to forgo the shaming hat-in-hand routine has proved far more valuable in warding off corruption than they would have liked to admit.

...“He’s probably been a fine mayor, but he seems a lot better, because all the usual agitators—groups that exist to drive a mayor crazy—have in one way or another been bought off,” one Democratic political consultant theorized. “It’s amazing the climate you can have when nobody is criticizing you.”

Sure, many of those groups have been bought off. But McGrath could've contacted City Council Member Tony Avella, who in his long-shot mayoral campaign has offered forceful and fundamental criticism of Bloomberg. He could've cited the startling statistics about marijuana arrests. He could've drawn on the numerous critics gathered at Bloomberg Watch.

And he could've considered Hunter College planning professor Tom Angotti's Brooklyn Rail piece, Don't Believe the Hype About Mike, which has dialogues with a self-described liberal he dubs "Libberg":
Libberg: There will always be some corruption in government. And now we need investment in the city to get jobs back.

Angotti: Yeah, the ones he pushed out when he converted industrial areas to upscale bedroom communities? Seems like we could use some of those industrial jobs now. Instead we have empty apartments.

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