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A Good Manager? Archive

October 8, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

Bloomberg’s Failed Poverty Policies

Via Cyril Josh Barker and the New York Community Media Alliance:

According to a new analysis conducted by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, pilot anti-poverty programs initiated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg aided only 3 percent of New Yorkers in poverty. The figure rounds out to about one in 33.

The announcement was made during a press conference on Tuesday, backed up by numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, indicating that more than 1.5 million New Yorkers lived in poverty in 2008 – enough to fill Yankee Stadium 25 times.
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October 7, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

Do You Really Think Bloomberg Even Sees Working Class or Poor or Homeless People, Much Less Wants to Help Them?

“The first rule of taxation is, you can’t tax those that – too much – you can’t tax too much those that can move. And a very small percentage of people do account for a big par t of our income.” “You know, the yelling and screaming about the rich, we want rich from around this country to move here. We love the rich people.” – Mayor Michael Bloomberg in The Daily News

Raising the marginal tax rate on high income New Yorkers, imposing a modest stock transfer tax, a very modest wealth tax, as exists in Switzerland and many other countries, or try any of the other ways to increase revenues and restore a modicum of sanity is beyond the pale. Except in the few months leading up to an election, in Bloomberg’s world, we are all held captive by a few hundred Wall Street mega millionaires and billionaires. Just try taking anything away from them, they’ll head for the rolling hills of Connecticut.

The “last time I checked pharmaceutical executives don’t make a lot of money.” – Bloomberg, again.

In fact, Abbott CEO Miles White took home $28.3 million last year. In the same neighborhood: Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Jim Cornelius, with $21.7 million, and Johnson & Johnson’s Bill Weldon with another $23 million.

“His London apartment overlooks a quiet locked garden in one of the city’s most exclusive precincts, where Ferraris and Bentleys park steps from Hermes and Chloe…a place of welcoming grandeur, with artfully planted window boxes, heavily tasseled drapery and the warm glow of a chandelier highlighting gilt details…a spiraling, filigreed central staircase…filled with American art, including works by Andy Warhol, Henry Moore and Jasper Johns. It also reflects Bloomberg’s love of finery, with a heavily molded ceiling, mahogany doors and marble columns.” His home on East 79th St. is a “Beaux Arts Manhattan townhouse that features an Egyptian marble foyer, French Savonnerie carpets, European paintings…” and so on. (Bloomberg’s good life (in London), Diane Cardwell, International Herald Tribune, October 3, 2007, p.1)

Contrast that life-style with this one:

Homeless Families Lose a City Loophole

Beginning tomorrow night, the city will stop giving emergency shelter to families who are reapplying for a place to stay after being ruled ineligible, officials said yesterday. [The “loophole” allowed families who had been ruled ineligible to be given shelter for one night if they reapplied after 5 p.m. Some families using this emergency provision would keep their belongings with them and repeat the process, moving to a new shelter the next day, often late at night.]

“Families began to realize if they came in after 5 they could evade that accountability,” said Linda Gibbs, the city’s deputy mayor for health and human services. “What we are doing now is closing the loophole.”

Miss Gibbs said that the “actions of a few are threatening the culture for the many. We have to stop it now.”

Grisel Rivera, 26, had been using the emergency overnight system with her 6-year old daughter, Jayda…The city claimed she could return to a one-bedroom apartment of a friend. But the friend didn’t want her. “Most of us can’t go to the last place we were. If we could we’d be there already. I’ll have now here to sleep. My daughter will have nowhere to sleep.”

Loopholes…Accountability…People abusing the system

Since that piece appeared, Bloomberg was caught charging rent to working poor families forced into homeless shelters, many driven there by Bloomberg’s Wall Street pals. Magnanimously though, the rent was never more than 50% of what they earned. When questioned about it, he said “they made me do it,” the “they” being Governor David Paterson’s administration. That one is right up there with the Espada/Montserrate explanations that they are doing what they’re doing to promote the interests of the people they represent.

As for imposing accountability on those who work the loopholes and abuse the system, we won’t insult your intelligence by pointing out to whom those words apply.

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October 6, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

Bloomberg Raises the Hackles of Republicans

Urban Elephants, a center-right political blog, takes issue with Bloomberg’s education spin and the Brooklyn GOP is asking Bloomberg, “where is the money?” for allowing the mayor to run on their party line.

Via Urban Elephants:

This video made another thread on UE that discussed the topic of low “standards” in NYC’s Public Education System more impactful…
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October 5, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

Michael Bloomberg — The Affordable Housing Mayor?

The Spin

Mike started the largest municipal affordable housing program in the nation. When complete, this bold initiative will have provided affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers. Since Mike took office, nearly 94,000 units of affordable housing have been completed.1

The Facts

“It is my pleasure to bring back Marvin Markus as Chairman of the Rent Guidelines Board.”

With those words, uttered on March 21, 2002, Michael Bloomberg made clear his bad intentions towards the 2 million plus New Yorkers who live in rent regulated apartments. The notorious Marvin “Markup” Markus, a Goldman Sachs investment banker, earned his nickname when he chaired the RGB from 1979 to 1984 and engineered rent increases of 11 and 14 percent.2 Bloomberg’s guy.

Here is what the Marvin Markup Markus’ Rent Guidelines Board has done since Bloomberg brought him back.

In the aftermath of September 11, RGB’s first order was a modest 2%-4% increase.

The annual increases each June thereafter were as follows:

2003 — 4.5%-7.5%
2004 — 3.5%-6.5%
2005 — 2.75%-5.5% (Bloomberg up for reelection)
2006 — 4.25%-7.25% (Post-election)
2007 — 3.0%-5.75%
2008 — 4.5%-8.5% (Bloomberg term limited and not expected to run)
2009 — 3.0%-6.0% (Bloomberg up for reelection)

If you were a tenant in a rent-stabilized apartment paying, say, $1,400 a month when Bloomberg took office, your rent would now be up to $2,294. The widely accepted rule for determining whether an apartment is affordable is that a tenant should pay no more than 33.3% of household income for rent. That means our hypothetical tenant in 2009 should be earning at least $82,584 a year.

The Spin

“Mike is also protecting existing affordable housing and improving housing conditions. His administration has brought tenants and landlords together to keep more than 21,000 apartments from exiting the Mitchell-Lama program, one of the most effective middle-class housing programs in the city’s history.”

The Facts

Here is how many rent stabilized apartments have been lost to the private market under Bloomberg

2003 — 7,556
2004 — 4,709
2005 — 7,378
2006 — 6,022
2007 — 5,088
2008 — 8,267
2009 — You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet.

These are only net losses. Owners place new apartments under rent stabilization because they calculate that regulation for a period of time with tax benefits and existing market conditions is more profitable than no regulation without the benefits. There are many variations on the theme of why some apartments transition into rent stabilization, including those that go from rent control to stabilization, the J-51 and 421-a programs, and so on. Often, the tenants in these newly regulated apartments end up paying higher rents.

Here is how many apartments were lost to rent stabilization during that period.

In 2002, New York City lost a total of 11,421 previously rent stabilized apartments.
In 2003, New York City lost a total of 12,692 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2004, New York City lost a total of 13,017 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2005, New York City lost a total of 14,045 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2006, New York City lost a total of 13,974 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2007, New York City lost a total of 14,205 previously rent-stabilized apartments.
In 2008, New York City lost a total of 16,833 previously rent-stabilized apartments.

A grand total of 96,187 rent-stabilized, affordable apartments lost under Bloomberg.3

Bloomberg’s praise of Mitchell-Lama is really a whopper. My wife and I have lived for more than twenty years in what used to be a Mitchell-Lama rental complex known as Independence Plaza. It housed about 3,000 people in Lower Manhattan. Mitchell-Lama housing, where folks from every ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic group live with a substantial degree of harmony, is the single most important program in New York City — not housing program — program.

We don’t have an office of bogus statistics to prove what candidate Bloomberg wants to prove about schools, crime, affordable housing or anything else. Many independent experts have done that already. The problem is that the mainstream media won’t allow the facts to penetrate the Bloomberg Blitzkrieg. I know, as do most of the folks who live in Mitchell-Lama developments, that if the billions of dollars being sunk down the rat hole of Bloomberg’s school program in a futile effort to make separate but equal work, were instead put into a real, integrated affordable housing program such as Mitchell-Lama where the kids live in the same complexes and go to the same schools, the results would be astonishing.

We watched our neighbors’ kids grow up in our complex. Poor white, black, and Hispanic kids hung out together and attended the same schools. For the most part, they turned out great — much, much better than the usual segregated communities and schools that are the indisputable outcome, if not the lynchpin of the Bloomberg policy.

Michael Bloomberg is one stubborn, wrong-headed, and deceptive mayor. He’s fudging the statistics on schools and on just about everything else. And he isn’t about to change his ways. He’s just got to get past the nuisance of an election. Then watch out.

Here’s the story of Independence Plaza in brief. You can read about in greater detail in our archives here. I haven’t told this part of it yet.

I was the reluctant tenant association president. We had negotiated a bill with Gifford Miller, the city council speaker. It would have forced the landlord Laurence (Call me Larry) Gluck to negotiate in good faith with the tenants before being able to exit the Mitchell-Lama program and go to market rents, his stated intention. Doctoroff had already given him the go ahead to privatize the complex.

Miller had finally agreed to sponsor the bill we had negotiated with him. With the help of the Working Families Party, we had lined up more than 2/3 of the City Council, enough votes to override the certain Bloomberg veto. But this was late 2003 and Bloomberg was thinking about his re-election campaign. He didn’t want a veto. He had already taken some political punishment for his lead paint veto. Remember that?

Miller scheduled an October 29 press conference for noon to be followed by a City Council hearing on the bill. With police cars in front and in the rear, hundreds of Independence Plaza tenants marched on City Hall. Tenant leaders from other Mitchell-Lama developments came out to support the bill and us. But at 10 a.m. Bloomberg held his own press conference in City Hall’s Blue Room. With HPD commissioner, Jerilyn Perine, standing alongside, he announced a state legislative “initiative” that he claimed would extend rent stabilization to all Mitchell-Lama tenants whose developments were being privatized.

Reporters asked Joe Bruno’s spokesman to comment on the Bloomberg “initiative.” Bruno, who is now under indictment, was the Republican senate majority leader and Bloomberg’s good friend. He was also the recipient of millions of dollars of Bloomberg political money. Bruno’s spokesman said that he hadn’t had a chance to review the proposal. In fact there was no proposal. At the time, it was only a press release. The spokesman went on to say “we have not been supportive of efforts to expand rent regulation in the city.” Exactly. Nor had Bloomberg. So what was really going on?

At the hearing later that afternoon, Martin Connor, the former Democratic Senate minority leader whose district included Independence Plaza, testified that the Bloomberg proposal would “have a long wait” in Albany. “I serve in the State Senate and I can tell you the likelihood of passing legislation opposed by the real estate lobby is nil. The City Council legislation is needed and needed now.”

Jerilyn Perine, the HPD commissioner who now works for a real estate lobby and who for years had done her best to frustrate tenant efforts to hold on to their homes, also testified. She lauded the Council’s concern over the loss of affordable housing. But regrettably, she said, the agency would have to oppose the bill.

Perine had a better idea: “Let’s all work together with the governor and the state legislature to achieve passage of this crucial legislative initiative [the Bloomberg initiative] and protect the viability of this important housing stock.” She laid it on thick.

A skeptical council member asked “If you don’t get your proposal passed in Albany, what’s plan B?” “We’ll do everything we can to pass the bill. There is no plan B.” What the council members didn’t come right out and say was that there was no plan A either. It would be months before the administration actually sent a bill to Albany. Bloomberg did nothing to pass it and it now sits safely buried somewhere in the bowels of a legislative committee and in the archives of the Bloomberg/Quinn New York City government. It will not be resurrected even though the state legislature and governor’s office are occupied by Democrats. Too many of those seats have been bought and paid for by Bloomberg and the real estate lobby.

The incident calls to mind a legendary moment in the City Council in the 1970’s when Dominick Corso, a Brooklyn member, was so frustrated with a reformer that he blurted out his existential truth: ‘You think it takes guts to stand up for what is right?’ he asked. ‘That doesn’t take guts. What takes guts is to stand up for what you know is wrong, day after day, year after year. That takes guts!’”4 Bloomberg has guts.

The Albany “initiative” was hastily put together and announced two hours before Miller’s press conference. Except for the New York Times, which appeared to take it seriously, everybody knew the Bloomberg initiative was a fraud. But it worked. The feckless City Council speaker buried the bill “now that the mayor has stepped up.” He picked up some real estate contributions that he otherwise would have lost. Some 1300 once affordable apartments now bring upwards of $5,000 a month. The existing tenants managed to survive but that’s a long story and has nothing to do with this one.

Michael Bloomberg has eviscerated affordable housing, wrecked neighborhoods, and destroyed lives in the process. Give him four more years and there won’t be another affordable apartment left in New York.

It is why every legitimate tenant advocacy group in the city wants to see him defeated. We’ll all breathe a great sigh of relief to see him go — just as we did when George Bush slunk back to Texas, leaving the wreckage behind for someone else to clean up.

Let’s take back our city from these wise guys. William Thompson is a no charisma man without hundreds of millions of dollars to create a bogus image and a spurious record of achievement. He’s a moderate, and we think a well-intentioned Democrat. We admire his courage. The City needs him. We need him. Let’s support him.

[1] From the Bloomberg campaign site:
[2] The Rent Guidelines Board is the entity that establishes guidelines for rent stabilized apartments, lofts and hotels in NYC. All members are mayoral appointees.
[3] All statistics taken from the RGB official website.
[4] As cited in The Permanent Government: Who Really Runs New York?, Jack Newfield and Paul DuBrul, The Pilgrim Press New York, 1981 (Published in 1978 under the title: Abuse of Power)

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September 30, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

The Over-Policing of New York City Schools

We have been reviewing various accounts of Bloomberg’s record on education and came across a report prepared by The New York Civil Liberties Union. Readers may not be familiar with the truly horrific practices that Bloomberg has introduced along with his absolute control of the public schools. He has asked to be judged on his public school record. There are so many reasons to show this arrogant oligarch the door, but at his own invitation, we invite you to judge for yourselves what he has done to the schools. We would only add that what follows is a very limited number of episodes taken randomly from only one website after a quick Google search.

Criminalizing the Classroom

At the start of the 2005-2006 school year, the city employed a total of 4,625 School Safety Agents (SSAs) and at least 200 armed police officers assigned exclusively to schools. These numbers would make the NYPD’s School Safety Division alone the tenth largest police force in the country – larger than the police forces of Washington, D.C., Detroit, Boston, or Las Vegas.

Because these school-assigned police personnel are not directly subject to the supervisory authority of school administrators, and because they often have not been adequately trained to work in educational settings, SSAs and police officers often arrogate to themselves authority that extends well beyond the narrow mission of securing the safety of the students and teachers. They enforce school rules relating to dress and appearance. They make up their own rules regarding food or other objects that have nothing whatsoever to do with school safety.
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September 30, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

Tom Robbins: Bloomberg’s Term Limits Scheme

Via The Village Voice:

As it heads into the home stretch, the Bloomberg campaign has adopted a new slogan to sum things up and help focus voters on the big picture. The new motto was rolled out at the big Bloomberg rally held primary night on a West Side pier, a gala celebration aimed at snatching attention away from Democrats and on to Mayor Mike. The slogan was emblazoned on Bloomberg’s podium, and tattooed over and over on a TV backdrop. Which made it hard to miss. It read: “Progress. Not Politics.” The first word is a debate worth having. The next two are simply lies.

Not politics? Whatever you think of Bill Thompson’s erratic campaign, at least he was being nominated that very night by his own party in an open primary. Mike Bloomberg? His GOP endorsement came courtesy of a classic, old-school political deal in which five Republican county leaders sat down in a room and agreed to give the mayor their ballot line.
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September 29, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

Attention Mayor Bloomberg: Lower SAT Scores Don’t Equal ‘Success’

Herbert London, president of the Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University, asks how there can be progress in education when students are doing poorly on the SATs.

Via Pajamas Media:

Mayor Bloomberg has consistently announced the success of his educational initiatives in the last four years. In fact, his claim for an unprecedented third term is based in part on the strides made by city students on reading and math tests. Chancellor Joel Klein has been praised and virtually beatified for his role in “turning around” the educational system. At one meeting after another the mayor has noted that the control he exercises over the city school system has paid dividends.

However, a recent report challenges the credibility of the mayor’s well-advertised claims. Despite an explosion in educational spending and a capitulation to the demands of the teachers’ union, city scores on the SAT spiraled downward for the fourth straight year.
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September 29, 2009 @ 10:56 am

Rereading: New York Will Survive Without Bloomberg

The mayor never bothered to prepare the city for any lean years.

Via Jason Riley and The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 18, 2008:

“Next to the assumption of power is the responsibility of relinquishing it.”
— Benjamin Disraeli

Citing the financial crisis, twice-elected New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to scrap the city’s term-limit law. He’s asking the city council to pass a bill that would allow him to seek four more years in office.

Obviously the mayor believes that he’s indispensable to Gotham’s well-being, which will come as no surprise to any journalist who’s met with him. What’s passing strange is that so much of the local press seems to share the mayor’s inflated view of himself.
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September 28, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

Predicting the Financial Crisis

Many folks predicted the financial crisis that Bloomberg’s pals on Wall Street were going to trigger. Bloomberg was still talking about deregulation in 2007.

We like president Obama very much — but Michael Hudson’s insights have been too right for too long to ignore.

Needless to say, he’s not Michael Bloomberg’s favorite economist.

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September 28, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

The Middle Class and the Race for Mayor

Fred Siegel, visiting professor at St. Francis College and a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, and his son Harry Siegel, an editor at Politico, envision a rough future for middle class New Yorkers if Mayor Bloomberg wins a third term.

Via The Daily News:

The candidate with working-class roots has been a ubiquitous figure this year, with ads touting a leader who attended public schools and is offering voters a “Middle Class Affordability Plan” and a “Five Borough Better Transit Tour.”

That candidate, of course, is the city’s wealthiest man and two-term mayor, who’s self-financing a campaign expected to cost about $80 million.

“A product of public schools, he worked and took out student loans to help pay his way through college,” reads the ad script. “But as far as he’s come, Mike Bloomberg’s never forgotten his roots. He works for a dollar a year as our mayor, and takes on special interests for the benefit of middle class families.”

Candidate Mike, friend of the middle class, emerges, groundhog-like, every four years – only to fade from view once the election is done, replaced by Mayor Mike, who raises property, sales and income taxes, tickets anything that moves, makes sweetheart deals with developers and touts his vision of a “luxury city.”
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