The Blanding of New York City: Why It’s Time for Mayor Mike to Go

Mayor Bloomberg "Dead End"

Mayor Bloomberg at a "Dead End"

As we watch Mayor Michael Bloomberg unfold his intricately orchestrated master plan to maintain his reign of power, there are more than a few reasons why New York will be quite finethank you very muchwithout our billionaire Mayor. You know, the one who seems to think we can’t manage without him, utilizing fear to push his agenda.

Our CEO Mayor has the media locked up and the existing City Council leadership (under Speaker Christine Quinn) willing to bow to his wish to overturn voted-in two term limits — with the, um, added benefit that they get to retain their positions also. (Who can take their actions seriously unless they take a principled stand?)

Mayor Mike got rid of the one guy who could match him in ad spending (see Ronald Lauder, former ambassador to Austria – who knew? – and Estee Lauder cosmetic empire heir) instructing him not to cause a fuss or he’d be ousted from their exclusive social and business circles — despite term limits being this billionaire’s issue for at least 15 years.

The City’s other billionaires, CEOs and corporate executives are advocating right and left for their friend Bloomie to linger at City Hall, no matter what it takes. Who cares if it’s a power grab, illegal and anti-democratic? Bloomberg figures he can listen to the people whine for a little while, ride that wave, and then buy them off with another $100 million worth of advertising.

Memo to Mayor Mike: I think you may at last have overreached.

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Why I think our city will more than thrive without Mayor Bloomberg…

The International Herald Tribune reported in June that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg “has rezoned vast swaths of the city to accommodate bigger, more densely populated buildings, encouraging the construction of millions of square feet of office space, hotel rooms and housing. Over all, the number of construction permits for new buildings or major renovations issued by the Department of Buildings has soared 23.3 percent over the past five years.”

The result of all this is a construction boom. The developers also get tax breaks making it oh so easy for them to put up large signs on virtually every block on their glossy glass buildings with the same two words: “luxury housing.” Existing tenants in smaller, quaint buildings get displaced, the buildings are torn down, diversity and any resemblance to the ‘past’ is bulldozed over. Neighborhood after neighborhood starts to look the same. (One other repercussion? Oh right. Monstrous cranes have toppled over. People die and are injured. With all this building, you want oversight?)

As these changes go on around them, long-time landlords with long-time small business tenants start to raise rents, doubling, tripling the figures and those tenants are soon gone and replaced.

As if they’re expendable. As if they never existed. The fabric of one too many neighborhoods is frayed, coming apart at the seams.

Yet, this is the climate Mayor Bloomberg’s New York promotes and encourages.

Juan Gonzalez wrote “Lower East Side rezone plan another Mike Bloomberg boondoggle” in the July 17th New York Daily News:

“Theirs [Chinatown/Lower East Side residents] is a story that has become all-too familiar during the Bloomberg era: another stable neighborhood turned upside down by a massive rezoning. The sheer number of these rezonings – from Columbia University to Hudson Yards to Greenpoint-Williamsburg (Brooklyn) to Willets Point – boggles the mind. City officials routinely claim it’s for the good of the neighborhoods, but in the end a handful of well-connected developers and Big Box stores end up the big winners.”

The fact is – it’s no coincidence that the city is vanishing at such a quick pace. While there’s no real funding for schools or libraries or park maintenance in our neighborhoods, there is always money for Wall Street and developers and corporate executives. Since the media rarely reports on this and, if they do, avoids linking this to Mayor Bloomberg and his policies, the public remains largely unaware.

The blanding of our city continues on, in neighborhood after neighborhood, public space after public space, to create the bland yet affluent City that Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire, envisions. It’s a less interesting one but the billionaires and their friends are happy. That’s what matters, right?

No. It’s time for the city to catch its breath. To attempt to make up for this blatant, expanded, accelerated loss of its character over seven years.

As we’ve seen, what works for Wall Street and Corporate America doesn’t really work for the rest of us. They want to maintain a certain lifestyle and will do whatever it takes to do so. Michael Bloomberg’s decision to stay on as Mayor of New York City in defiance of democracy has nothing to do with New York City and everything to do with Michael Bloomberg and his ego.

It is time for Mayor Mike to go.

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Photo: RS Eanes

(Part of this post appeared on July 17th, 2008. This is a different and expanded version.)

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  1. Bloomberg’s Privatization of Washington Sq Park: NYU, Tisch, Who Else? « Washington Square Park

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