A few years ago Chancellor Klein came to my school to explain how, once again, Bloomberg was going to restructure the Department of Education. In the question and answer session, someone asked if there were elected representatives present. Klein responded that he was the appointed representative of the elected representative, Mayor Bloomberg. The next question was: shouldn’t we have input from city council members and state legislators before we restructure the DOE yet again? What about the democratic process? Klein said that the democratic process was a big waste of time. We had elected Bloomberg, and Bloomberg had Mayoral Control—voted in by the State Assembly. Enough democratic process already. See you next election.
I remember that first election, which took place just after 9/11. Bloomberg spent millions of dollars of his own money and said that we should vote for him because he didn’t owe any favors to special interests. Giuliani made a half-hearted attempt to convince everybody that he should run for a third term given the emergency situation. That idea flew like a 200-pound pigeon. New Yorkers had already voted in two separate referendums that they wanted term limits. “The voters have spoken,” said Bloomberg.
As soon as Bloomberg was elected, there was a media Blitzkrieg against NYC teachers and our union. It would seem that everything wrong about the Board of Education was our fault. But never fear, the Bloomberg cavalry was riding to the rescue of the poor children. During the first couple of years there were occasional articles in the mainstream media that criticized Bloomberg. Gradually, all criticism disappeared, except on the blogosphere.
I find this fascinating. I have lived in New York City for more than 30 years. New Yorkers are feisty and all synonyms thereof: spiritied, active, alive, bubbly, courageous, difficult, enthusiastic, excitable, fiery, frisky, full of pep, game, gritty, gutsy, lively, mettlesome, ornery, quarrelsome, scrappy, sensitive, spunky……
But nobody has anything bad to say about Bloomberg. No jokes, no cartoons, no nasty articles, no political snipes from the opposition—No Opposition.
Bloomberg, according to Wikipedia, is the eighth richest American with a net worth of 16 billion dollars. That’s his personal wealth. He is also in total and absolute control of the entire budget of New York City—another 40 billion.
That’s a lot of power and a lot might—and it makes Michael Bloomberg absolutely right—or else.