Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Mayor

In today's NY Daily News, an op-ed contributor hones in on the collapse of the Mike Bloomberg edifice: "The blizzard was the least of it. It's been downhill for Mike Bloomberg since he not only failed to pick up the snow but seemed to not quite understand why it needed picking up. Never has he been less the master of his own destiny - let alone the city's. Yes, it's official. Mayor Mike's political stock has been downgraded, in no small part because his new competitor in the political marketplace, Gov. Cuomo, just handed him his hat."

We have already commented on the mayor's decline, but today's Daily News piece highlights something else. When someone with strength, like our new governor, calls the mayor's bluff, he is transformed back into that little man behind the curtain who he always has really been.

The author then examines what defined the myth of Mike in the first place: "To find out where it went, we have to understand what defined it in the first place. Bloomberg's charisma, such as it was, was the charisma of competence. After Rudy Giuliani slayed dragons like welfare and crime, Michael Bloomberg promised an era of omnicompetent, innovative, business-style management."

As it turns out, however, Bloomberg's competency and innovative ability never really was a characteristic of his rule-only the semblance of these traits. CityTime and Hapless Cathie Black exposed the underlying reality: "Mr. Bottom Line was caught sleeping as consultants from CityTime were indicted for allegedly bilking the city of $80 million. He left New Yorkers scratching their heads after a secretive process resulted in the appointment of former Hearst executive Cathie Black as schools chancellor, even though she has zero background in educational administration."

What Black contributed inadvertently was to help the folks see through the entire Potemkin Village nature of the mayor's school reform platform. Her fraudulent elevation and the mayor's defense of her qualifications, exposed the dishonest underbelly of the entire reform edifice.

Governor Cuomo, however, exposed the extent to which Bloomberg lacks real political skills, especially when confronted by an equal: "How did he fall so far, so fast? ...But it turns out, being a billionaire named Bloomberg, running a firm called Bloomberg, 88% owned by a guy named Bloomberg, may not be great training for the ego-massaging, deal-making and horse-swapping required in real-world politics."

The mayor is effective only when he can deal with unequals, and the NYC Council is, in this sense, his perfect foil. When unchallenged Bloomberg can use money and power to bully his way-understated and misleadingly soft spoken, lacking the bombastics of Giuliani.

The News contributor concludes by musing about the Bloomberg legacy: "Meanwhile, his days are taken up trying to defend bike-lane lawsuits and a grandiose, now-revised scheme to plop a pedestrian plaza down in the middle of 34th Street. If it feels like he's reaching for a legacy, well, that's because he is."

Perhaps not. You see, the mayor's real legacy lies not over at 34th Street, but farther east in our own Iron Triangle. The development at Willets Point would be, in the mayor's own view, his crowning achievement-a monument to his vision. In reality, if this project were ever to get built it would be a monument to all that has been wrong about the Bloomberg misrule-over development and the destruction of small businesses.

It is a legacy of an entirely different character than the one that Mike Bloomberg envisions. In this sense, WPU is acting in the mayor's best interest. By thwarting his misguided effort to strangle the city and Queens County with an unaffordable and unmanageable monstrosity, we will be saving Bloomberg from himself.