Friday, November 2, 2012

Mike Bloomberg: Marathon Man

The reviews are coming in with regularity now-and the critics are really panning the mayor's decision to hold a marathon while so many in the city are suffering. We got an interesting email from a group called The Holiday Marathons relating the fact the mayor and the Parks depertment had turned down the group's proposal to hold a race on Christmas last year, "...because it would have placed a burden on the Parks Dept Staff (2 PEOPLE) and the City claimed they couldn't handle this. But the Mayor & the Parks Dept. have no problem now making thousands of people work during the NYC Marathon when people are suffering and need help. The Mayor and the Parks Dept are heartless hypocrites!"

Michael Graham captures the optics:
"Watching people left stranded at their demolished homes and in flooded communities, beyond the reach of the (supposedly) all-powerful government is what media gurus call “lousy optics.” Disorder, disarray, despair—these do not generate positive feeling about people in power."
The mayor's endorsement can only hurt the president:
"Those urging the city to halt the run believe that the thousands of Marathon volunteers could direct their efforts towards post-Sandy relief and cleanup, "and they also argue that the event will divert thousands of police from important hurricane-related duties." But despite petitions circulating, work started up again yesterday on the Marathon route.
A tipster, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us there were lots of workers in and out of the park today, who had "started before the storm and then came back starting yesterday." Trailers are lined up from around 71st to 66th Streets on Central Park West, a food truck was set up today, and "generators have been sitting there at least a week." The tents that were taken down prior to the storm have also been set back up, and there is a stage set up near 73rd Street.
Considering all the volunteer help and NYPD attention that's already being diverted to the Marathon, the added sight of generators and food being channeled to the event is probably going to strike some New Yorkers as a little misplaced—we're thinking of the ones who are currently lined up waiting for the National Guard to ration out MREs and bottles of water."
So what we have is the incredibly shrinking lilliputian mayor:
"New York has rarely needed strong leadership more than it does now; unfortunately, our Mayor keeps shrinking.
What would the world have thought of Mayor Nagin if he’d diverted resources from Katrina relief efforts to holding a Mardi Gras parade? Mayor Bloomberg may be about to find out. As the NYT reports, the Mayor has vowed to go ahead with the NYC marathon, which will inevitably draw resources away from the Sandy recovery and irritate people whose homes are still underwater, who still don’t have food or power, and who need help, not a sport to watch. Widespread reports that generators are being diverted to power tents for race officials are stoking a populist rage that a billionaire mayor doesn’t need."
Instead of a resurrection-a la Rudy Giuliani post 9/11-we are being treated to the miniaturization of an already small man whose limitations extend beyond his liberal paternalism because of an egotistical belief in his own rectitude. When all the water recedes, we will find that Mike Bloomberg doesn't have a legacy to stand on:

"As the true dimensions of the damage in New York gradually appear, as the death toll mounts and as chaos at the gas stations and devastation in Staten Island undercut the narrative that the city has responded effectively to the challenge, Mayor Bloomberg looks more like the hapless officials of New Orleans than Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie. The decision to divert badly needed resources to the Marathon looks callow. Big talk about climate change fails to impress; surely if the Mayor was so concerned about climate change he could have invested more time in flood preparations. It’s not the fault of conservative GOP climate skeptics that New York did so little to prepare for the rising sea levels that so trouble the mayor.
The gods of politics are fickle and the winds blowing so hard against Mayor Bloomberg could veer. But he needs to move quickly; New York’s post-Sandy narrative threatens to turn ugly, and nobody loves a scapegoat more than a New Yorker with no gas and no power. A billionaire who thinks a marathon is more important than the well being of middle class homeowners on Staten Island: if that label sticks to Michael Bloomberg, his decision to go for a third term as mayor will go down as one of the classic political blunders in the storied history of New York."