I am annoyed with Mike Bloomberg for thinking he is Chosen to save us from Donald Trump, or worse (in his mind) Bernie Sanders or Liz Warren. Not that I think his candidacy is going to go anywhere. He’s currently at 1 percent in the latest Emerson College poll, and I understand his plan is to skip the four early primaries and aim for a big delegate haul on Super Tuesday (March 3).
The Super Tuesday states next year are Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Democrats abroad. So it’s not mostly southern states this time, but … seriously, Mike Boomberg?
He’s spending $30 million to run television ads this week. I’m seeing his ads on the St. Louis stations; the Missouri and Illinois primaries are later in March. It’s not a bad ad:
Much of this ad is about his tenure as mayor of New York City, from 2001 to 2013. The part about providing affordable housing in New York City jumped out at me, as I have personal experience with not finding affordable housing in New York City. So I checked this out and found that the “affordable” housing he pushed for wasn’t all that affordable.
Bloomberg claims to have built or preserved 165,000 affordable housing units while in office – the largest programme “in the city’s long history”, his website says.
“We’ve been astoundedly impressed by the commitment and energy that’s gone into the affordable housing production,” said Benjamin Dulchin, executive director at the New York-based Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD). “But also disturbed by the problems with it. Much of the housing that was built isn’t actually affordable to the local community.”
According to ANHD, (pdf) only a third of those 165,000 units were affordable to a family earning less than half the median income in the neighbourhood where the housing was built.
Bloomberg’s administration poured money into redeveloping Manhattan’s far west side, backing a $2.4bn extension of a subway line to carry passengers to projects such as Hudson Yards and Manhattan West, which will take years to complete but will eventually see once-neglected areas turned into developments for businesses and luxury apartments.
The change has been striking, and many areas have undoubtedly been cleaned up and made more desirable. But that has not always been good news for people living in the city.
The reality of New York in 2013 is that 31% of its residents are classified as “severely burdened” by rent – that is, they spend more than 50% of their income simply on having somewhere to live.
The number of people with a severe rent burden has increased under Bloomberg’s reign, with NYU’s Furman Center reporting that, as the median gross rent in the city increased 10% between 2005 and 2011, the median household income fell.
At the beginning of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s second term, homelessness in his city was at an all-time high: Nearly 40,000 New Yorkers were without homes, which was astronomical considering the city’s homeless population had never reached 30,000 before Bloomberg took office. In response, he laid out an ambitious five-year plan to reduce homelessness by two-thirds.
Eight years later, 48,694 people were homeless, according to the New York City Department of Homeless Services.
And the moral is, if you are a poor person and Mike Bloomberg offers to help you, run like hell. This Gotham Gazette article provides a good analysis of what Bloomberg got wrong. In brief, he’s a free-market guy who thought that tossing a few incentives at the real estate industry would fix everything.
And the moral to that is that the free market is the problem, and fixing the problem is going to take a major systemic ovehaul.
Bloomberg is also associated with the infamous “stop and frisk” policy. Elie Mystal (executive editor of Above the Law and a contributing writer for The Nation) calls Bloomberg the “poster child for the unconstitutional harassment of black and brown bodies.” That he went to a black church in Harlem and apologized shortly before beginning his campaign is not going to fool anybody, I don’t think. Mystal also said that for Bloomberg to ask for votes from racial minorities “is like the scorpion asking to be king of the frogs.” I would like to think that institutional Democrats are finally getting a clue that they can’t take the black and brown vote for granted any more. A Bloomberg nomination would set back the whole party.
Even though campaign cash may not be an issue, his centrist policy positions on key issues like criminal justice and financial regulation, allegations of sexist remarks and a #MeToo blind spot, and his status as a self-funding billionaire could narrow his path to the nomination. And being a 77-year-old wealthy white man won’t help differentiate himself from a group of fellow white septuagenarians leading the 2020 pack.
“For too long the people at the top of the Democratic Party have been wealthier, whiter, more male, and more conservative than the base of the Democratic Party which looks a lot more like [Rep.] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, told Insider earlier this year.
Mike has his authoritarian streak, exhibited with his eviction of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. I was not a big fan of the Occupiers, as I found them to be mostly pretentious, but this was utterly unnecessary:
Early Tuesday morning, New York police raided and evicted the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zucotti Park in southern Manhattan. The behavior of the NYPD and the mayor’s office, in ordering this brazen action while blocking the press and the public from reporting on the eviction, is a disgraceful display of unnecessary force on a protest that for the most part has behaved lawfully and respectfully throughout its two-month existence.
The last time the police planned to clear the park, they had announced the eviction ahead of time and gave people and press time to flood in. This time, the NYPD, clearly intent on avoiding as much scrutiny as possible, made no such “mistake.” According to reporter accounts on news Web sites and on Twitter, at around 1:00 a.m., police moved swiftly to isolate Zucotti from the outside world. The NYPD closed subway stops and streets around the park, and set up barricades to prevent people from joining the protest. Once inside the park, the police tore up the tents, and apparently ruined the belongings of the protesters who had turned the park into a makeshift city over the last two months. (Among other ruined items were 5000 books from the park’s library, the protesters’ Twitter feed points out.) Those who resisted were met with batons and pepper spray, reports Mother Jones’s Josh Harkinson; among others, New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez was arrested and bleeding from the head, according to another council member. Protesters were to be allowed back into the park, but the NYPD insisted they’d have to make do without tents, tarps or any other equipment essential to the occupation.
Bloomberg’s brazenness has only increased during the morning. At 6:30 a.m., Judge Lucy Billings issued an injunction “requiring the protesters to be readmitted to Zuccotti Park with their tents,” but Bloomberg has ignored the court order and kept the park closed. Protesters have marched to Zucotti Park, but are being barred from entrance despite displaying that court order to the police on site. At this time, the mayor’s office has not explained why it is ignoring the court order.
Conor Friedersdorf, Here’s What Should Disqualify Michael Bloomberg:
Under Bloomberg, arrests rose steeply in New York City for marijuana possession. The city regulated trans fats, and barred the philanthropic donation of fresh bagels and other foodstuffs to the needy in homeless shelters because the salt, fat, and fiber content could not be assessed by city bureaucrats.
When anti-war protesters wanted to assemble against the impending invasion of Iraq in 2003, New York City, “citing only vague security concerns, refused to grant a permit to march, allowing only a stationary rally and cramming attendees into a narrow penned area,” CityLab recounts. “Hundreds of thousands of protesters were unable to get within earshot.”
I attended that protest; it was worse than this article describes. The crush of bodies in the penned cite was such that it was nearly impossible to move. My son and I decided to leave early, and it took us about an hour to get to a cafe about a half block away. That much crowding is dangerous. People get trampled to death if anything frightening happens.
And “for at least a year before the 2004 Republican National Convention,” The New York Times later reported, “teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe to conduct covert observations of people who planned to protest at the convention, according to police records and interviews.”
Bloomberg favors the use of forcible seizure of private property by the government not only to build vital public infrastructure, but also to facilitate private development deals.
And do on. So, while Bloomberg initiated some redevelopment of the city and is a staunch supporter of gun control, I really, really hope he’s not the nominee. But I am not too worried he will be. Mike is not known for his charm, and he doesn’t have a folksy bone in his body. He’s also very short, which I noticed when he ran into me, literally, at some political gathering I attended back in the aughts. And he sure as hell isn’t going to get the racial minority or progressive vote.