Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Village Voice, a tough portrait of Mayor Bloomberg, but a missed opportunity to mention Atlantic Yards

In Citizen Bloomberg: How our mayor has given us the business, the Village Voice's Harry Siegel--essentially the replacement for Tom Robbins and Wayne Barrett--today has a tough debut article:
After two full terms and change, what do you call Bloomberg's New York? In many ways, the mayor has been merely a caretaker.

While Bloomberg has called himself the "education mayor," his claimed success with the public schools has been exposed as largely accounting tricks.

When asked to describe the boss's vision for the city, aides and allies tack post-partisanship on to a checklist of Bloomberg LP buzzwords: transparency, data-driven results, and a CEO fixed on the bottom line. Pressed for actual accomplishments, the city's post-9/11 resurgence usually is mentioned first...

"Post-partisanship" has always meant the party of Bloomberg, a convenient handle for a lifelong Democrat who left the party to avoid a contested primary in New York. After the presidential plotting that occupied most of his second term fell short (the big hit that began his losing streak), Bloomberg aimed for a soft landing with a nakedly undemocratic "emergency" bill to allow himself a third term. Instead, it alienated New Yorkers and wrecked his expensively built reputation as a "post-political" leader in the process.
The AY illustration

Siegel mentions the mayor's penchant for mega-plans, but not Atlantic Yards.

That's unfortunate, because the Atlantic Yards saga, as shown in the film Battle for Brooklyn, illustrates Bloomberg's affinity for those in his class.

As I wrote in my review:
[Bloomberg] imperiously dismisses questions about the much-promoted Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), purported to guarantee affordable housing, local hiring, and minority contracting. “I would add something else that’s even more important,” the mayor declares. “You have Bruce Ratner’s word, and that should be enough.” But as Battle shows, the CBA is suspect; indeed, though not depicted, Bloomberg recently disparaged such agreements as “extortion.”
Siegel does mention Bloomberg's use of philanthropy, but could have drawn on some of Michael D.D. White's observations in his Noticing New York blog.

The billionaire vision

Siegel got remarkably similar observations, apparently, from multiple sources:
Mike Bloomberg thinks everyone's dream is to come to the city with an MBA and find an inefficiency to exploit and become a billionaire, or at least get a good job with one, argued three unrelated sources who have worked with the mayor...
The rest of the article is here.

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