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November 3, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

Vote Like Your Life Is at Stake — It Is

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November 2, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

Reading List: Thompson Trailing by 12 Points, One Final Push

Illustration by Roberto Parada

* A Quinnipiac Poll released this morning has Thompson trailing Bloomberg 38 to 50 — 12 percentage points. Last week, Thompson was trailing by 18 percentage points.

* The City Room has Thompson and Bloomberg gearing up for election day. The Daily News says they’re both pulling out all stops.

* New York magazine, which thinks that Bloomberg’s third term is all-but-official, says that Bloomberg will have a hard time working with the UFT.

* Michael Barbaro writes about the usual truth-stretching that seeps into campaign ads every election.

* City Hall News reports that the Bloomberg campaign believes it has neutralized the Working Families Party as a factor in the mayor’s race.

* The Daily News reports that there are still a significant amount of New Yorkers who don’t know who Bill Thompson is.

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November 1, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

Rupert Murdoch in Drag: The Old Gray Lady Covers the Mayoral Election and Bloomberg the Bloodless Gets Ready to Take the Throne

With the leaves turning and the mayoral race down to its final paces, William C. Thompson Jr., the Democratic candidate, sketched out a liberal policy agenda Friday, saying he would fight to repeal laws that allow landlords to charge market rents for regulated apartments.

He promised to appoint pro-tenant members to the Rent Guidelines Board to oppose higher rents and pro-rider members to the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to oppose raising fares. He said he would keep subway station agents on the job, and try to place all rent-regulated middle-class apartments that are part of the Mitchell-Lama program since 1973 under rent stabilization laws.

He also said he would give the homeless priority for Section 8 rental vouchers and allow homeless families who now are required to pay for shelter to instead put that money into escrow to be used for a permanent apartment.

Michael Powell, New York Times, October 30.

Powell continues:

These are some of the positions that would place Mr. Thompson to the liberal side of the political mainstream in New York City, and open up some — although perhaps not a lot — of ideological space between him and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

We haven’t seen the polls that suggest a candidate who opposes higher rents, who wants to keep subway fares down and subway agents on the job, who doesn’t want to charge rent to homeless families living in shelters, but instead would give them a Sec. 8 priority, is on the “liberal side of the mainstream.” (We’ll discuss Mitchell-Lama in our next post where we will describe how the Mayor and The New York Times combined to perpetrate the conventional bait and switch fraud on tenants and voters.)

Then again, maybe the mainstream media’s coverage of Michael Bloomberg’s eight years and the support of so many civic leaders for another term has rotted the brains and hardened the hearts of average folks. I can’t say Powell is wrong. I’d just like to see the evidence. What I do know is that he’s wrong that there isn’t a lot of ideological space between Thompson and Bloomberg. And “wrong” is as charitable as we can be.

The facts have been buried beneath Bloomberg’s billion dollar legalized bribery and political propaganda operation in which newspaper owners and editors have turned their papers into megaphones for Bloomberg’s message, which, although occasionally delivered in the more modest language appropriate to a candidate is I’ve been a great manager for all New Yorkers – New York needs me—I don’t quit when the going gets tough. Term limits? I legally overturned a bad idea—get over it.

Thompson’s campaign operation has been less effective than we had hoped. Voters were never going to learn the truth through messages mediated by a pro-Bloomberg press or 30-second spots. They certainly weren’t going to read campaign literature. We and others have tried to put the information into voters’ hands in digestible form (See the Spin v. the Facts pamphlet), but we didn’t have the troops. Thus, unless voters have directly experienced the consequences of Bloomberg’s policies, and here we just don’t know how many there are, it appears that many, if not most don’t understand the iron fist wrapped in the velvet glove rhetoric. Truth be told, many don’t want to know.

There isn’t much that small bloggers can do about it, except tell our story, call out the New York Times when we can, and hope that others will do the same. Here’s Michael Powell again

Mr. Thompson declined to attach a dollar figure to his proposals Friday, saying that his staff had often done that in the past. He promised to lobby the Obama administration for money and predicted that his other proposals, including converting Mitchell-Lama apartments, would come at little or no cost.

Many of Thompson’s proposals would cost the taxpayers nothing. Instead, the firing of the notorious Marvin “Markup” Marcus, the Goldman, Sachs partner whom Bloomberg appointed to chair the Rent Guidelines Board, would cost rent-gouging landlords their greatest ally and would slow the rapid rise in rents that are driving out the middle class. True, less revenue for landlords means less property tax revenue, but the tax breaks and tax avoidance schemes of New York’s real estate barons rather than the ratcheting up of rents should be the focus of the next four years. Bloomberg, who charges rent to homeless working people forced into shelters and vetoes lead paint bills, doesn’t agree.

Other Thompson proposals require action in Albany. Bloomberg finances the New York State and City Republican operations, and has put a considerable amount of money into Washington as well. His standard explanation for pouring so many millions into the Bush-Pataki-Bruno-Tom DeLay cesspool has been that it buys him influence, and indeed it does. Never mind what he does with it.

The parallels between the arch of Bloomberg’s career and that of Nelson Rockefeller have been fascinating to watch. The massive debt, the megalomania, the dominance of the New York Republican Party, and much else would make a good doctoral thesis. This is where it ends though.

Rockefeller, it will be recalled, got out of town as Gerald Ford’s Vice-President just before the stuff hit the fan in 1975. Bloomberg’s money was unable to leverage him onto the McCain ticket. It is a measure of how far the country has gone off track since Ronald Reagan’s presidency that Republican politicians have painted themselves into such a narrow ideological corner that to the Republican base Bloomberg and Giuliani both look like liberals.

Bloomberg’s failure was perhaps a blessing for him. Better to be a king in your own realm than to help a Republican win and have to stand by while a befuddled president McCain adds to the mess that Bush left behind.

I am reminded of what a well-known black political figure once said to me—“Neil, they’ll never let a black man run New York unless it isn’t worth having.” He might have been wrong about that, although it was long ago, and at the time I thought he was probably right. I wonder though whether that principle might not apply to the presidency.

I digress. As for what comes next in New York, no matter who wins, poor, working and middle-class New Yorkers are going to suffer the most, but under Bloomberg, they will suffer more. The Bloomberg business model, New York, the Luxury City, doesn’t work. It’s a variation on the theme of the trickle down economy. Had it succeeded it would have sharpened the class divide even more. In this environment, it won’t work for anyone. We see no evidence that Bloomberg is prepared to rethink it. And there is nothing that we know of his character that gives us hope. Far from it, if he wins, he will attempt to suck up whatever modest resistance remains in Albany.

Here is one, not so fanciful scenario for a Bloomberg third-term.

Bloomberg will finance the Republican gubernatorial and senate candidates. It appears that Giuliani is getting ready to run. With complete ownership of New York City, the mayor-who-would-be-king will have a very large piece of everything and everyone in the state.

If they hold onto their majority, he would have to throw a few more dollars in the pot to acquire the remaining senate Democrats. It would be a simple negotiation: The real estate industry is already pushing substantial political money in that direction. Democrats want more of it. The Albany Democrats have been passing one-house tenant bills for years; confident they would die in the Republican-controlled, Bloomberg-financed state senate. Now that they control all three branches of state government, they are dithering and slithering their way out of doing anything meaningful for tenants.

It wouldn’t even be a rounding error on Bloomberg’s personal balance sheet to contribute whatever the Democrats ask to ensure that they continue screwing their constituents. The model is well-established and only recently reinforced in Bloomberg’s purchase of the Republican ballot line.

The acquisition of Albany is the direction we’re headed in a post-election world in which Bloomberg The Bloodless sits firmly on his throne in New York and sends out his tax and toll collectors to take the last few assets that his subjects have managed to hold on to. Financing a class war is easy when so many of the victims are too defeated to resist and many who could offer some resistance don’t even know they’re in one. As for the politicians, who can doubt they would take the money?

Good government groups have called for reforming Albany by dispersing the power of legislative leaders in various ways. Not that we think it will happen any time soon, but ironically, the only person in a position to resist Bloomberg is Sheldon Silver, and from time to time, he has. The rape of the Soviet Union by the oligarchs had me rootin’ for Putin for a time. Now I fear the law of unintended consequences might kick in should Silver’s power be diminished. So, while I’m not quite ready to go that far, who knows? If Bloomberg wins some of us might be shillin’ for Shelly.

– Neil Fabricant

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October 30, 2009 @ 10:37 am

UFT Splinter Group Says Vote Anyone But Bloomberg

Via Andrew J. Hawkins and City Hall News:

This year, the powerful United Federation of Teachers skipped endorsing in the mayor’s race.

But a small, dissident faction within the union has decided to break ranks, calling the UFT’s silence a sell-out.

So who did the group of rabble-rousers lift up their voices for?

None-of-the above.

“The decision to sit out the contest between Michael Bloomberg and his opponents speeds us to the brink of more disasters,” the dissident group, Independent Community of Educators (ICE), said in a statement, adding however, “It is difficult to offer [Democrat Bill] Thompson unqualified support when he has thrown support to mayoral control and supports much of the underlying corporate agenda for education.”

Their advice? Vote for anyone on the ballot. Anyone not named Michael Bloomberg, that is.
Read rest of story…

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October 29, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

Sam Leff: Top 10 Reasons Not to Vote for Bloomberg

Via the Huffington Post:

1. Giving the nation four more years of George W. Bush.

Michael Bloomberg rolled out the red carpet and gave the keys to the city to the Republicans to nominate Bush for a second term in the summer of 2004. Exercising a staunchly [and stealth] pro-Republican strategy, he denied a protest venue for the millions of Americans angered and disturbed by the illegitimate Bush administration and its trumped up war in Iraq, forcing angry U.S citizens to march up and down the City’s avenues rather than assembling in the traditional public space of large gatherings, Central Park’s Great Lawn. More than that, Bloomberg’s secret police followed potential demonstrators for two years prior to the convention and illegally arrested and detained 2,000 people at a greasy bus depot on the Hudson for two days during the Bush coronation. The city has already paid out $10 million in lawsuits for its assault on the rights of Americans to demonstrate their just grievances at a national political convention. In response to the denial of constitutional rights perpetrated by his NYPD, Bloomberg pats his police commissioner Raymond Kelly on the back. “Heckuvajob Kelly.” Showing his true face, Bloomberg is ending his campaign by cuddling up to Rudolph Giuliani and their orthodox Jewish constituency at a Brooklyn rally supporting Giuliani’s latest aspirations to be governor of New York.

2. Bloomberg is a liar.

Twice the citizens of New York City voted to impose term limits on elected officials. Bloomberg twisted arms on the City Council to have them pass a new law overturning term limits, promoting their own self interest, and flying in the face of the public will he broke his promise to respect term limits and not run again and is using his extraordinary fortune in an advertising blitz to twist the truth, create myths, and squeeze out votes that any sane democratic society would reject out of hand.

3. Speaking of rats, Bloomberg’s New York is overrun with rats.

They’ve been observed leaving restaurants on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and going into apartment buildings. So dense is their population they have become road kill crossing Broadway or Amsterdam Avenue. They became national television news stars playing at night in a Greenwich Village Taco Bell restaurant. Many city residents who park on the streets have found that the rats take up residence in their engines, often eating away wires and leaving their droppings and chicken bones behind. Riverside Park is a favorite hangout where they dine at the Boat Basin restaurant and scurry around the feet of tourists on park benches by the river.

4. Helicopter tourism vs. peace and quiet in our local environment.

Bloomberg is the only New York politician who supports the 17 private New York companies providing extremely noisy low-flying helicopter tours over the densely populated residential East and West side communities. Expensive helicopter tours [$120 per person for 20 minutes] constantly fly from the Hudson to Central Park and back, creating a deafening atmosphere that often approximates a military siege and destroys the tranquility of Central Park. Even after a helicopter and small plane crashed over the unregulated Wild West air space over the Hudson River, killing nine tourists, Bloomberg was the only local politician who failed to speak out against the helicopter problem. The reason behind this enigma is simple. Billionaire Bloomberg takes full advantage of helicopter transportation and, being a helicopter pilot himself, won’t do anything that might restrict his own comings and goings. All other Manhattan politicians say that helicopter tourism is insignificant to the city economy and that those few tourists who spend hundreds of dollars for a few minutes in the air over the city would all find other ways to spend their tourism money.

5. Bloomberg doesn’t make the trains run on time.

Bloomberg’s city streets are a joke. He has drawn bike lanes, but just try to ride the bike lanes on the Upper West Side. They are, like the treacherous crosswalks at the major streets and avenues, pockmarked with potholes and patchwork repairs from companies who dug up the streets to put in internet and video cables. (Bloomberg has a large investment in Verizon, and though he is supposed to have a hands-off policy concerning his investments, his billions have tripled during the time of his mayoralty). Bike lanes on the Upper West Side are (typically) useless window dressing.

6. Parking tickets as a revenue source.

Bloomberg’s traffic agents are so aggressive they give alternate side street cleaning tickets out at exactly 11 a.m. at the very second when the regulations go into effect. If your watch is two minutes slow, or if you leave your car at 12:28 two minutes before 12:30 when the regulations go off, you can get ticketed. Bloomberg has installed television cameras to take pictures of cars going through lights which change in the blink of an eyelash. He, like his predecessor Giuliani, thinks squeezing the public for money from tickets is a great source of revenue for the city. He has done nothing to provide low-cost public parking for city drivers, as is available in all major civilized European cities. Oh, you can park in New York if you’re wealthy and don’t mind paying a small fortune for the privilege.

7. Bloomberg’s Heckuvajob Kelly hires thugs for his police department.

Look at the YouTube favorite
(over 2 million views) of the New York City cop throwing a body block on a Critical Mass bike rider riding through Times Square, or the Channel 11 report.

Like the 2,000 arrested by Heckuvajob Kelly, this cyclist was charged with”attempted assault” “resisting arrest” and “disorderly conduct.” Now imagine what would have happened if that tourist with a video camera hadn’t been there to record the “attempted assault.” That young man would have found himself tied up in court trying to defend himself against, as it turns out, the son of retired New York City police detective who had been a former high school football lineman.

8. Bloomberg runs the local police like the CIA

He hired a former high-level CIA official, David Cohen, to conduct secret surveillance of “potential troublemakers” like environmentalists, church groups, street theater groups, and every other type of creative or not so creative traditional protest group that might come to the city to oppose Bloomberg’s favored political candidates and causes. We don’t know exactly how many millions of dollars were spent investigating peace groups before RNC 2004, but it may have been nearly as much as the $10 million paid out in court settlements to the victims of the NYPD assault on anti-Bush demonstrators and witnesses. What we do know is that none of that money was spent for housing for the homeless or on education of our children, or for fixing potholes.

9. Michael Bloomberg is openly buying power with his fortune.

This is particularly ironic in a world where billions of dollars of the tax money of ordinary people are being shelled out to shore up the fortunes and lifestyles of millionaires and billionaires like Bloomberg who made their obscene fortunes manipulating financial devices on Wall Street while Main Street was being bled dry by those same institutions. In these times, why in the world should the decisions of New York City government be made by a person whose finances are so far removed from the average citizen that he couldn’t possibly empathize with the hardships of normal New Yorkers? This country was born of a revolution that overthrew the rule of royalty. Why should it be ruled by pseudo royals like Bloomberg who have no respect for truth or justice?

10. As Holden Caulfield might say, Bloomberg is the biggest phony in town.

Sam Leff is an anthropologist specializing in American culture.

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October 28, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

Notes from a Reader: Can We Please End This Pretend Mayoral Election?

From Bob Salzman, Barking at Traffic:

Its time to stop the silly charade that New York City is having a mayoral election.

Its just too painful to watch Bloomberg pretending to be interested in what non-billionaires have to say as we all wait for the fake election to be over with. This is an $85 million acquisition – not an election. We should at least be honest about it. The media should back off – cover it minimally and focus on something more interesting – like Halloween.

My nausea level boiled over last week watching Bloomberg sit quietly beaming as Giuliani stoked up a conservative Jewish group with his trademark brand of race baiting and fear pandering. it was a reminder of why Giuliani’s poll numbers with New Yorkers were in the toilet before he shamelessly exploited the nation’s grief after 9/11 to market his “America’s Mayor” brand. Let’s not forget his venomous, sneering attacks on Obama last summer before whooping mobs of angry white Republicans. Although, he has done one good thing – he resigned from the Donald Trump migratory fowl nest combover club.

Remember in September 2001 when Giuliani tried to use 9/11 to extend his term because he felt New Yorkers couldn’t live without him? Even in September 2001 the response was “whoa – what are you talking about – isn’t this still a democracy?” Fast forward to 2008, and Bloomberg rolls over us by rolling out the power of his bank account to buy the right to a third term.

I used to like Bloomberg because he was the anti-Giuliani – the non-ideological, boring, competent, engineer whose billions had untethered him from this city’s traditional power bases – the mayor as CEO. In this campaign Bloomberg does not appear to be untethered from anything and stands for nothing except as an unvarnished spectacle of American democracy as a rich man’s hobby.

What would it have cost him to show a smidge of daylight between himself and Giuliani – a one trick pony – government by racial division and temper tantrums? Would Bloomberg’s conservative base have threatened to vote for William Thompson if he had said even something bland like “I don’t agree with Mayor Giuliani on everything.”

Of course what he should have said was – “I don’t agree with Mayor Giuliani’s position that voting for a black person will cause NYC to go back to being plagued by crime and crack.”

After Bloomberg’s election in 2001 a cab driver asked me “what is it about that position that would make a man spend $60 million to acquire it?” I still don’t have an answer to that question and now his campaign has spent $85 million – with a week to go before election day.

But I guess for a bored gazillionaire, it’s alot more bang for one’s buck than plunking down $35 million for a ride on the space shuttle.

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October 26, 2009 @ 11:21 am

An Open Letter to all New Yorkers—and a Call to Help Bill Thompson Help us Take Our City Back

October 26, 2009

Re: Michael Bloomberg v. The People of New York City: The Spin v. The Facts

This letter accompanies our review of Michael Bloomberg’s ruinous eight-years as mayor of New York City. It describes the facts of that record in detail and contrasts them with the spin that the mayor and his publicists have employed to tell a different story.

In preparing this document, we also want to publicly thank Bill Thompson for having the courage and determination to take on New York’s richest, most powerful man and his vast network of wealthy allies. We can only imagine what a difficult and thankless task it must be.

He could have taken advantage of the term limits override and sat out the next four years in the Comptroller’s position. He wouldn’t have had to endure the sleazy attack ads, the exhausting campaign, and all the punishment that comes with such an uphill battle. But without him, we would not have had a choice: Michael Bloomberg, the most arrogant public figure we have suffered in our life time, perhaps with the exception of George Bush, has thumbed his nose at our vote to limit elected officials to two terms. If elected, he will continue to wage what can only be described as a class war on ordinary New Yorkers.

We know that many voters remain indifferent or confused, even overwhelmed by the hundreds of millions of dollars of free and paid political messages aimed at convincing them that the record of financial mismanagement, neighborhood destruction, civil liberties and civil rights abuses, and all the other misguided policies and programs has been a record of achievement.

Many political and civic leaders have been intimidated and even threatened with retribution in the form of campaign contributions and grants withheld, contracts and subsidies not renewed, and all the rest of the tools available to punish those who would speak out. That is why this is an election in which the people must lead the leaders.

Michael Bloomberg’s defeat would send a powerful message that The People are still out there. That message would reverberate throughout the country. It would even be heard in Washington D.C. where the moneyed interests – the interests that Michael Bloomberg embodies and represents – have used their wealth and political power to rob ordinary citizens of their life savings. As this document shows, the mayor is doing precisely that in New York.

Things have already gone very far in that direction. We sense that this is a climactic moment in our history. We’re pleased and honored to do our small part to help Bill Thompson and through him, President Obama take back our city and our country from the hedge fund operators, real estate barons, leveraged buyout artists, investment bankers, and all the rest of the skimmers and scammers who stand with their leader, the would-be oligarch Michael Bloomberg.

Very truly yours,

Neil Fabricant, Founder, Fed Up New Yorkers
Alan Howard, Coordinator, New York City Obama Grassroots for Thompson
Lucy Koteen, President, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Allen Roskoff, President, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club
Robert Holden, President, Juniper Park Civic Association, Inc.
Nellie Hester Bailey, Director, Harlem Tenants Council
Jessica Shiller, Professor of Education, Lehman College
Judi Francis, President, Park Defense Fund
Ben Kabak, Transit Blogger, Second Avenue Sagas

* Organizational affiliations for identification purposes

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October 26, 2009 @ 11:11 am

Michael Bloomberg v. the People of New York City: The Spin v. The Facts

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October 22, 2009 @ 6:31 pm

Marist Poll Shows Thompson Trailing Bloomberg

Today’s Marist Poll shows Thompson trailing Bloomberg 16 percentage points, with 36 percent of voters saying they’re leaning towards Thompson and 52 percent leaning towards Bloomberg. Last month’s Marist poll showed Bloomberg leading by just 9 percentage points.

Here’s what Azi Paybarah noticed:

So, things are trending in Bloomberg’s favor. He’s even leading among Democratic voters, 47 to 39 percent.

Another figure that stood out to me: 62 percent of Thompson supporters think Bloomberg will win.

Regionally, Bloomberg is carrying Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan by significant margins. In each of those areas, Bloomberg is above 50 percent while Thompson is below 40. In Staten Island, it’s 56 to 41 for Bloomberg. And in the Bronx, Thompson leads, but with only 43 percent. Bloomberg is polling there at 40 percent.

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October 22, 2009 @ 5:16 pm

CWA Local 1180’s Anti-Bloomberg Radio Ad

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