On Mike Bloomberg’s Mayoral “win” of Third Term, Plus Eight Articles Worth Reading (Updated: Nine!)

Updated 1:29 p.m.

Yes, by now everyone knows that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg won his much-desired third term (another four years!) – after overturning voted-in term limits – last night with his $100 million campaign, the complicity of the local media and the lackluster support given by the ‘powers that be’ to the Democratic candidate Bill Thompson.

The one good thing that might come out of a Bloomberg third term is that the press and the politicians, especially in light of his narrow (4-5%) win, may at last stop thinking of him as such a “good mayor” and start looking more critically at his policies (and failings) on:

– homelessness, poverty, construction and building, over-development, corporate giveaways, lack of affordable housing, privatization of parks and public space, rezonings destroying communities and small businesses, police misconduct (the RNC should not be forgotten), lack of public planning (not enough schools for all the new “luxury housing”), endless school testing with lackluster results and parental outrage at his educational “system,” lack of community input in just about everything (but to name a fewConey Island, Washington Square Park, Willets Point, Atlantic Yards, Yankee Stadium, Union Square, Chinatown, Williamsburg/Greenpoint), enforcing of the “nanny state,” and more.

Here are eight nine articles worth reading on our Mayor and the election:

1. Politico excellent article on Bloomberg race as missed opportunity for Democrats (i.e., President Obama!).

2. Today’s New York Times News Analysis proclaims “Mayor No Longer Seems Invincible.”  On Bloomberg’s “slim victory,” the paper says: “For all the talk of a post-racial, post-class city, Mr. Bloomberg gained a third term heavily dependent on the votes of white, middle-class and wealthy voters.”

3. A Daily News article concurs:

What if President Obama – instead of delivering a squishy, nonendorsement-endorsement of Thompson, after his press secretary couldn’t even come up with Thompson’s name – had stumped for the man?

What if City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, instead of sitting on her hands for months, used the power of her purse strings to rustle up some support for Thompson?

What if the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was happy to stand onstage last night at Thompson’s concession speech, had stood a little closer during the campaign?

What if the more powerful city unions like the United Federation of Teachers and SEIU Local 1199 Democratic check writers or for-hire strategists had stayed true?

“A lot of Democratic donors who sat on their wallets are kicking themselves tonight,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner, who bowed out of the race for mayor early on, but did what he could for Thompson down the stretch.

4 & 5.  Godless Liberal Homo sums it all up with “Mayor for Life Bloomberg,” as does Suzannah B. Troy saying “Anthony Weiner must be kicking himself.”

6. Election Day piece from Vanishing New York on Bloomberg’s narcissism and endless need to “clean up” the City.

7. At Gothamist, “What Exactly did happen last night?”:

“After running a record-breaking $100 million campaign that won major endorsements and blanketed the city in nearly non-stop advertising, Mayor Bloomberg defeated the underfunded Democratic candidate Bill Thompson by only 5 percent of the vote, winning with 51 percent to his rival’s 46. This comes after polls from the days before the election predicted Bloomberg ahead by double digits… The pollsters might have some explaining to do.”

8. Gawker’s pre-election “endorsement” “Don’t Vote for Bloomberg” encapsulates the issues with our Mayor (which most of the mainstream press ignore) perfectly.

9. (Added!) Pretty amazing recounting of Bloomberg’s strong arm campaign tactics in Times’ piece, “Chief Factor in Mayor’s Race: Bloomberg Influence.”

Mayor Mike In the News … You win some, you lose some?

Mayor Mike, amidst the people

Mayor Mike, amidst the people

Having attended (and reported back on) the federal court hearing around term limits last week in downtown Brooklyn, I am not surprised that Judge Charles P. Sifton ruled in the City’s favor saying the term limit overhaul can stay. I would have been awfully surprised if Judge Sifton, who seemed really tired and troubled (confused even) as to how to make the decision, ruled otherwise. I’m sure it was just easier to rule for the city, and maybe (a big maybe) their legal arguments were stronger.

We all know; however, it was the 29 Members of the NY City Council who voted for overturning voted-in term limits, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and, at the end of the day, our illustrious (well, at least he thinks so) CEO Mayor Mike Bloomberg who are responsible. You can read the Times’ story “Judge Rejects Suit over Term Limits.”

But there is still another piece to the term limits puzzle.

As the Daily News reported on October 13th, 2008:

The brouhaha may be about whether the fate of term limits is decided by special election or the 51-member City Council, but in the end it’s up to the feds.

New York is among the localities covered by the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval for changes in voting rules to protect minority-group rights.

Yet, there was a short subsequent article on January 6th, 2009 in the Daily News reporting some suspicion over the fact that Mayor Bloomberg had not filed the paperwork to initiate the federal approval process. It stated:

More than two months after signing the controversial law allowing him to seek a third term, Mayor Bloomberg still hasn’t sought the required federal approval for it.

It’s odd and suspicious. It smacks of having some other agenda,” said election law expert Richard Emery, a foe of the term extension, who backs Bloomberg’s third run anyway.

What could that agenda BE…?

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But the Mayor didn’t get off scot free today… see this Times’ story “Yankee Stadium Burdens Mayor’s Campaign.” The article begins: “With a vote set on Friday on whether to extend $372 million in additional tax-free financing for the new Yankee Stadium, challengers to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg are trying to halt the subsidies. State lawmakers have subpoenaed team and city officials to an emergency hearing on Wednesday, and what once looked like a gleaming example of the mayor’s financial skill is suddenly looking like one of his biggest vulnerabilities.”

Oral Arguments heard on Term Limits and the “naked ambition” of Mayor Bloomberg and 29 City Council Members yesterday in downtown Brooklyn

Oral arguments around the Term Limits lawsuit were conducted at the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn yesterday afternoon. Plaintiffs, including NY City Council Members Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, Charles Barron, as well as voters and third party candidates, argue that the City Council’s overturning of two voter referendums violates the First Amendment and due process protocol. Randy Mastro argued the case for the plaintiffs and did a compelling job, at one point referring to Mayor Bloomberg and the 29 City Council members who enacted our CEO Mayor’s bidding as “scoundrels.” Stephen Kitzinger, lead attorney for the city, was a little less compelling but seemed very confident in his arguments. Judge Charles P. Siftin (U.S. District Court) seemed confused as to how he would make the decision of whether the City Council had the right to overturn voted-in term limits, the effect ultimately being that they gave themselves and the Mayor an almost guaranteed third term. The judge stated: “It is difficult to convert [the arguments] into a common denominator.”

For NY1’s clip and story, go here.

Court Hearing Challenging NY City Council Term Limits Vote; Opening Arguments Begin Monday, Jan. 5th in Brooklyn

So, do you remember that lawsuit that NY City Council Members Letitia James, Bill de Blasio, and Charles Barron, as well as Comptroller William Thompson, filed back in November challenging the City Council overturning of voted-in term limits on October 23rd? Well, interestingly enough, opening arguments begin tomorrow, Monday, January 5th at the United States District Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn between lawyers for the plaintiffs and the city.

Mayor Bloomberg, City of New York, the City Council, and Speaker Christine Quinn, among others, are listed as defendants in the suit. You can download a PDF of the suit and read the Times’ original story from November at the paper’s web site.

The suit is being litigated by Randy Mastro, formerly a deputy mayor in the Giuliani Administration, and Norman Siegel, well known as an advocate for free speech who is also running for public advocate.

From the complaint:

Allowing a self-interested mayor and City Council to dismiss the results of two recent referenda undermines the integrity of the voting process, effectively nullifies the constitutionally-protected right to vote, and perniciously chills political speech by sending the unavoidable message that the democratic exercises of initiatives and referenda can be disregarded by public officials.”

From my post about the suit when first filed:

One of Mayor Bloomberg main arguments is, that if people don’t want him as Mayor for a third term, they can just vote him out. However, the lawsuit highlights how unlikely that is. For City Council Members, the complaint states: “in the past decade, only 2 of 107 incumbent council members lost a re-election bid.” Couple that statistic with our billionaire mayor’s intention to spend $80-$100 MILLION of his personal fortune (which, by the way, quadrupled while he has been Mayor) on his campaign and it’s not really a fair fight.

Details if you’d like to attend (it should be interesting):

Monday, January 5th, 4:30 p.m.

Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Downtown Brooklyn

Trains: 2, 3 to Borough Hall and Clark Street; 4, 5, M, R to Court Street/Borough Hall; A,C,F to Jay Street/Borough Hall; in addition, many Brooklyn buses go to Borough Hall (check MTA website).

Wayne Barrett in the Village Voice: The Transformation of Mike Bloomberg

Check out Wayne Barrett‘s in-depth piece on Mayor Mike in this week’s Village Voice. An excerpt:

Last month’s 29-to-22 [NY City] council vote to do Bloomberg’s bidding was the most tawdry moment in city politics I’ve ever seen. More camera crews and reporters attended the vote than any other session in City Council history—some said the passage of the bill was as close as we would get to a mayoral election in 2009.

The mayor justified the bill by saying that it gave voters an additional choice—namely, himself. But unnamed sources had already told the Times that Bloomberg would spend $80 million on his re-election (at least $20 million of it on attacks on anyone daring to oppose him). …

The Bloomberg who came into office as the anti-politician, promising to transform city government, has been transformed himself. …  But seven years later, Bloomberg has not only proved himself to be a master politician, as hungry for power as anyone we’ve ever seen, but he’s also ended up putting nearly everyone who deals with the city deep into his political debt.

Read the full story here.

A Letter from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn re: Term Limits Vote

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn sent this letter out yesterday via email to New Yorkers who had contacted her expressing their opposition (prior to the vote) to the City Council overturning of voted-in term limits.

Ms. Quinn writes:

As I’m sure you now know, on October 23rd the Council voted to extend term limits for city elected officials from two to three four-year terms.

I understand how strongly you and others felt about this issue. This decision wasn’t one that the Council and I took lightly, and it came with a great deal of deliberation, dialogue and debate, including two days and nights of public hearings.

WSP Blog Note: which she didn’t attend.

I realize there’s very little I can say at this point to convince you that my support for extending term limits was based solely on what I absolutely believed in my heart was best for our City: that in these extraordinarily difficult times, New Yorkers should have the choice to keep their current leadership or vote us out at the polls.

WSP Blog: As Council Member Bill de Blasio (Brooklyn) said the day of the crucial vote … by taking away the voters’ right to choose, Mayor Bloomberg and Christine Quinn make the argument, in true Orwellian fashion, that they are giving the voters more choice.

I would like to promise you this, though. As Speaker, I will continue to work as hard as I can each and every day to earn your trust and respect and to help make city government more responsive and effective for all New Yorkers.

WSP Blog: Responsive… would have been listening to the voices of New Yorkers -89% of whom stated in a Quinnipiac poll they did not think the New York City Council should overturn these previous votes.

Next November, you and other voters will have the opportunity to vote for me, any of my colleagues, or Mike Bloomberg for another four years – or to make a change. The decision will ultimately be yours. That, to me, is the essence of democracy.*

As difficult as this decision was, I appreciate and respect your views and hope we can continue to work together during these tough economic times.

Sincerely,
Christine C. Quinn, Speaker

* definition (Webster’s Dictionary): democracy (n) : government by the people

City Council and Mayor Bloomberg in the News today…

NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came out “harshly” against Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to cut back $400 property tax rebates for homeowners and “overhaul” senior centers. However, skepticism about this outrage abounds. City Council Members who spoke anonymously to the New York Times said that the Mayor will ultimately “yield” on the rebates and then push for an increase in property taxes, his real goal. “It’s like professional wrestling,” said one council member. “They [Mayor Bloomberg and Christine Quinn] arrange the moves in private and play them out in public so that people come out and say, ‘She’s so tough.’ ”

And so much for going against any of the Mayor’s redevelopment or rezoning plans as Hunters Point South and Willets Point plans were approved by the Council yesterday despite the fact that, at Willets Point, much of the land will need to be taken by eminent domain. There are thriving businesses there. It’s just they are mostly auto shops and a bit bedraggled, and not considered particularly valuable (the business owners and people who frequent them would disagree). Instead of fixing up the area over the years (sound familiar?), the city got into a contentious fight with the owners who don’t want to leave. The Times story does not quote anyone opposed to the City Council vote.

But there is news that perhaps Albany via the New York State Legislature will stop Mayor Bloomberg’s third term! Said Kevin Parker (Brooklyn) speaking on Mr. Bloomberg’s record over the last seven years, “On his report card, under ‘works well with others,’ he gets an F.”

Lawsuit on Term Limits Filed Today…

The New York Times reports that:

Elected officials, aspiring politicians, public interest groups and average citizens who voted to establish term limits in New York in the 1990s filed a federal lawsuit Monday morning challenging the constitutionality of a law signed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg last week that extended the limits from a maximum of two terms in office to three.

The lawsuit charges that the mayor and the City Council seized upon the economic downturn as an excuse to undo the term limits law that had been twice affirmed by voters through referendum, and did so at an unprecedented pace.

The lawsuit plaintiffs include NY City Council Members Letitia James, Bill de Blasio, and Charles Barron, as well as Comptroller William Thompson. It is being litigated by Randy Mastro, formerly a deputy mayor in the Giuliani Administration, and Norman Siegel, well known as an advocate for free speech who is also running for public advocate.

From the complaint:

Allowing a self-interested mayor and City Council to dismiss the results of two recent referenda undermines the integrity of the voting process, effectively nullifies the constitutionally-protected right to vote, and perniciously chills political speech by sending the unavoidable message that the democratic exercises of initiatives and referenda can be disregarded by public officials.”

One of Mayor Bloomberg main arguments is, that if people don’t want him as Mayor for a third term, they can just vote him out. However, the lawsuit highlights how unlikely that is. For City Council Members, the complaint states: “in the past decade, only 2 of 107 incumbent council members lost a re-election bid.” Couple that statistic with our billionaire mayor’s intention to spend $80-$100 MILLION of his personal fortune (which, by the way, quadrupled while he has been Mayor) on his campaign and it’s not really a fair fight.

Mayor Bloomberg, City of New York, the City Council, and Speaker Christine Quinn, among others, are listed as defendants in the suit. You can download a PDF of the suit at the New York Times link above.

Game On, Mayor Bloomberg

Much focus on the national election today. And a lot of electricity in the air. All warranted of course. But it’s hard not to think that NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg scheduled his signing of the overturning term limits legislation for Monday, November 3rd when he knew that any news reported, today – Election Day – that wasn’t about, well, the election, would be somewhat obscured. Smart guy, our Mayor.

Except I can’t help thinking that he has overreached. He plotted every last aspect of this elaborate scenario. He maneuvered the system like no one’s seen in a long time. Mr. Bloomberg lined up the media editorial boards, fellow corporate CEOs, reluctant billionaires, compliant charitable groups which receive the benefit of his personal fortune, and 29 New York City Council members to go along with his master plan. And he accomplished his goal: the chance to install himself (with the help of $80 million dollars) for another 4 years of unprecedented power to “finish” what he started and couldn’t quite seem to push through in eight years.

I’m sure our billionaire Mayor is thinking that next year, his last year under this second term, and then the next four, will be like his previous seven.

He’d get away with his deceitful maneuverings to replace the city we know with the affluent, bland city he envisions. His under-functioning agencies would stay under the radar.

The media would continue to only talk about how great he is.

If something went wrong that fell under the domain of city governance, they wouldn’t link him to it by name.

The people who might raise a ruckus about it – mostly community groups – didn’t have the power to really get anyone’s ear. And so it goes.

Except, what if it didn’t?

What if this “game changing moment,” as Letitia James defined it on the day of the City Council term limits vote, is “game changing” for our Mayor?

Yesterday, he sat through four and a half hours at City Hall listening to the people, a large percentage of whom were very angry. They didn’t mince words. They told it like it is. As today’s New York Times article stated: “during the bill signing, a man unaccustomed to direct, public criticism endured a heavy – and very harsh – dose of it from those he governs.” Mr. Bloomberg probably figured he had no choice but to endure it (public comment is part of every bill signing) and this will be over – people have short memories, he memorably said – after this one day.

Except, what if it isn’t?

There was a young man who spoke yesterday at City Hall, David Tieu. His picture is in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and The New York Post. His testimony was show stopping. He said “look at how I’m dressed” which was supposed to signal something about his work but I wasn’t certain what. I read in the paper today that he is a deliveryman. He expressed how he had to drop out of City University when Mayor Bloomberg imposed further cuts onto the CUNY system (City University of New York). He stepped away from the mike and he pointed at Mr. Bloomberg and said: “You’re Public Enemy Number One! That’s all I have to say. To hell with your agenda!” Most of the stories didn’t go into that agenda leaving out mention of the whole having-to-drop-out-of-school thing and what his issue with Mayor Bloomberg is. Mr. Tieu took the day off from work to address the Mayor personally.

Josephine Lee of Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side critiqued Bloomberg’s rezoning plan for those and other neighborhoods, saying “all you’re doing is displacing working class communities and communities of color.”

Under Mayor Bloomberg, there have been more rezonings of neighborhoods than in the previous five administrations combined. Typically, these rezonings lead to displacement of long time residents and businesses. Replaced by shiny glass buildings, high rents, “luxury” housing, big box chain stores, more privatization and corporatization of, well, just about everything, and more shiny people. The kind Mr. Bloomberg likes.

What gave me hope about yesterday, this game changing moment, is, at last — in a public forum — hearing the stories that each individual told … seeing people’s faces, people coming together, people at last having a place to say what is so wrong with this Mayor and, yes, his agenda.

Game on.

NY1 carrying Mayor Bloomberg’s consenting-to-hear-the-people Live NOW

Updated 2 p.m. — Public comment ended a little before 2 p.m.  The Mayor signed the extension of term limits bill stating “I feel at this point the public should have a choice.”  Of choosing him, he means.  A NY1 commentator said that the testimony was “split” between for and against but I doubt that highly.  It seemed very much leaning against and people were quite passionate.  More on that later.

Updated 12:15 p.m. — If you get a chance to tune in to NY1, the public testimony is still going on and it is beyond fascinating to watch and listen to people telling it like it is face-to-face to Mayor Bloomberg. Part of me could not bear the idea of speaking before the King holding court which is how I felt it would be. So I chose not to testify today. Apparently, it is so crowded that people are being brought in 5 at a time (not sure if sound is piped in outside the main room…?) so connections between people with similar views can’t be made as Mika Nagasaki from Coalition to Protect Chinatown and Lower East Side pointed out. Ms. Nagasaki spoke eloquently about displacement and the problems with the rezoning being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg in her neighborhood. She couldn’t even imagine one more year of our billionaire Mayor. I feel the same.

The New York Times (which is not live blogging this one) has a story up about what’s transpired thus far.

10:15 a.m. — The public hearing before Mayor Bloomberg is going on now at City Hall, having begun at 9:30 a.m. in the Blue Room prior to our CEO Mayor signing the overturning term limits into legislation. (There’s little chance the Mayor will veto this bill he courted so heavily and manipulated circumstances around so unethically.)

It seems like the king is holding court.

You can watch it LIVE on NY1 or catch it via their web site here.

Mr. Bloomberg is surrounded by six MEN, three on each side, and at this point we are hearing from City Council Members and other elected officials.