Why Mayor Bloomberg Wants Redesign of Washington Square Park

Before Mayor Bloomberg‘s well orchestrated push to overturn voted-in term limits (with the complicity of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and 28 other members), the mainstream media applied a general lack of scrutiny to his actions. More recently, some light has been shone on the man behind the curtain. Until now, the Mayor had almost succeeded in pulling the wool over the eyes of our city.

His initiatives include: taking over control of schools (with parents outraged over the non-stop testing) – and then cutting funding from them, privatizing our public parks, eliminating recycling(until activists got on his case, along with the NYC Comptroller), cut backs to libraries and senior centers, issuing non-stop Tax breaks to billionaire developers and corporations & misusing confiscations through eminent domain so that our city is basically owned by corporate interests, besieged by “luxury” housing.

The list goes on and on.

We’re on the precipice of WHAT OUR CITY IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE for the NEXT 30 YEARS. Drastic changes are being made with his finger on all the triggers. I could coexist with our billionaire Mayor if he’d keep on his side of the room. I’d stay on mine. Unfortunately, he owns the room. So what then?

Mayor Bloomberg’s imprint is stamped all over what is happening at Washington Square Park. From the complicity of the City Council members (specifically Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Alan Gerson – it’s Gerson’s district), to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to the Arts Commission to the Community Board. However, despite the Mayor’s control and wishes, even the local Community Board voted against the Park’s “renovation,” albeit on the third try, once they recognized the arrogance and duplicity of the New York City Parks Department in ignoring their requests for information. Yet, from NYU to the “Tisch Fountain,” Mayor Bloomberg’s privatization agenda looms large.

The dramatic disruption of Washington Square Park, against the wishes of – and without input from – the community, has been termed Bloomberg’s “pet project.”

Why…? Because Washington Square Park is the antithesis of Michael Bloomberg’s “vision” of New York City a freewheeling cacophonous non-permitted jumble of free speech, free music, free performance, free political debate – and police cameras all over the place. Washington Square Park at one point housed more surveillance cameras per square foot than any other 9 acre area in NYC. Bloomberg has made no proposal to remove or reduce the surveillance, only the public activities they are surveiling.

Mayor Bloomberg’s lifeline is being a CEO of a corporation. He can pretend he gets this whole democracy ‘thing’ (while buying his way into it) — but that’s a farce.

Gawker recently covered what it’s really like to work at Bloomberg L.P., the corporation he founded, and how astonishing it is that the appalling conditions there have not merited more coverage (instead .. it’s as if he liberated City Hall by banishment of walls and dividers!). Read about this here: The Other Reason Mayor Mike Couldn’t Run.

* Note: A slightly different version of this post first appeared on March 4th, 2008. *