NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2009 – Just moments after his Democratic opponent staged a boisterous rally on the steps of New York’s City Hall, in opposition to the extension of a term limits law that allows him to seek a third term, a feisty Mayor Michael Bloomberg strode to the podium in the Blue Room and challenged anyone to stop him from continuing to run “what is rightfully mine.”
“Thompson, schmompson. I got this one.” Bloomberg boasted. “We’ve got a month before the election and people are just now finding out who he is. I’ve spent $90 million to saturate the airwaves with advertising and took it out of petty cash.”
When an aide quickly reminded the Mayor that he had officially reported spending $64 million, Bloomberg snorted, “Whatever. I could still give every New Yorker about $10 million apiece and not even feel it. And don’t think most of them wouldn’t be grateful to get it too, since they’re probably unemployed.”
Bloomberg weighed in on a range of reporter questions, most prominently the issue of why he’s seeking a third term. At the rally, Comptroller Thompson alluded to failed attempts at a Presidential or Vice Presidential run, alleging Bloomberg had no where else to go. The Mayor poo-poo’d such thinking and when asked why not return to the business world, responded, “Been there, done that, made a billion. Don’t need to do it again.”
The Mayor turned a bit snippy when questioned about some of the assertions made in his attack ads against Thompson, specifically those suggesting Thompson was an ineffective School Board President. “Yeah? And…?” said Bloomberg. “It’s not like New Yorkers are gonna run out and do research! Repeat a lie often enough and people just believe it. HELLO! I run a media company! Don’t you think I know what I’m doing?”
In a bizarre moment straight out of a reality television series, when reminded that a recent WABC-TV poll now showed Thompson trailing him by the closest margin ever, 8 points, Bloomberg laughed defiantly at the idea enough people would actually turn out on election day to vote him out of office. “Who’s gon’ check me boo?” shouted a wild-eyed Mayor Mike, as he pointed at individual members of the press corps. “You? You? You?” He quickly apologized when he inadvertently aimed his barb at a reporter from the New York Post.
He then turned on his heels to exit the press conference. “This is my city, dammit,” yelled the Boston-born mayor.
The actual Mayor Bloomberg did not contribute to the writing of this article.
In about six weeks New York City residents will go to the polls to select a new mayor. They have a choice between an eight-year incumbent, the billionaire businessman, former registered Democrat now registered Republican but running as an Independent, Michael Bloomberg, and the current city Comptroller and Democratic Party nominee Bill Thompson.
Despite the fact that city residents voted for term limits and twice voted down efforts to overturn that law, Bloomberg and certain members of the City Council who stood to directly benefit from a change, connived to enact legislation extending their own right to serve, and that of the mayor, to a third term.
To some, this breach of democracy has made the upcoming election seem like a done deal or perhaps more aptly, a stacked deck. They look at the nearly $100 million of out of pocket campaign financing Bloomberg is spending and assume that no one can possibly stop him. That familiar sense of hopelessness and inner frustration that Americans felt during the eight years George W. Bush spent in the White House, now grips New Yorkers. It is unhappiness mixed with a large dose of ambivalence over what seems to be a near certain outcome.
But New Yorkers have faced adversity before and overcome, and they can again this time too. We’ve got to realize that the power to correct this situation is entirely in our own hands.
Bloomberg is clearly scared of the Thompson challenge, otherwise why would he spend so much money on television ads and glossy brochures mailed to city residents? (I personally shred mine, then put the shreddings in an envelope addressed to his campaign headquarters, without a stamp attached.)
His ads are taking on a particularly nasty tinge, attempting to defend his own questionable record as ultimate authority over the city’s school system by attacking Thompson’s record when he was school board president.
In a touch of irony, the same week Bloomberg unveiled these ads, an independent study by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University shows that NYC public school graduates are woefully unprepared for college. The Bloomberg approach to primary and secondary education is to focus so much on test scores that very little actual learning takes place. This is in contrast the ten point plan laid out last week by Bill Thompson, where he stressed the need for a real educator in charge of the system, smaller class sizes, more accountability and parental involvement.
Educators like the Thompson plan.
So the challenge for voters is to ignore the snowstorm of an expensive advertising campaign and look at the truth. When people ask themselves, “Am I better off now than I was 8 years ago?” their own reality should tell them that 8 years of Bloomberg is enough. Quite enough.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in this city 5-1. If Democrats simply show up and vote for Bill Thompson, there will be real change in the Mayor’s office. But if people stay home and do nothing, we’ll have four more years of a mayor who wants to run this city as his private company, making decisions that affect our lives without ever asking for our input.
Our opponent is apathy. Doing nothing is not acceptable.
Tuesday, September 29 is the runoff election for New York City Public Advocate and Comptroller. I’ll be voting for Bill de Blasio and John Liu, respectively, and think you should too.
Up in Albany, where Mayoral challenger Corey Ellis lost the Democratic primary while getting 44 percent of the vote, the campaign may not be over. Ellis has the Working Families Party line and can run again in November. He gave four term incumbent Mayor Jerry Jennings his toughest competition to date, and has sent a fundraising appeal to his supporters to gauge which way to go.
New York State residents will go to the polls Tuesday to vote in a Democratic party primary election that in many cases will make a general election in November a moot point.
Here in New York City, voters will determine the general election challenger for Mayor, but in this heavily-Democratic city, all but settle the races for Public Advocate, Comptroller, most city council seats and Borough Presidents offices. Manhattan residents also get to decide who will replace District Attorney Robert Morganthau, who is retiring at age 90.
While turnout is not expected to be high, competition for the seats has been fierce, particularly in recent weeks, with television commercials in the Public Advocate race turning particularly nasty.
I have a vested interested in the primary race for Mayor, and give my endorsements to these others who I feel can also best serve New York City.
Upstate, in Albany, another Democratic stronghold were I lived for 11 years, voters have a chance to pick a new mayor and turn out a 16 year incumbent. City Councilman Corey Ellis who has been backed by the Working Families Party, if elected would become that city’s first African American mayor. He has my support.
Tuesday, September 1 was special election day in California’s 10th Congressional District and while Democratic hopeful Anthony Woods garnered considerable national attention in his quest to fill the seat vacated by former Congresswoman and now Obama Administration appointee, Ellen Tauscher, voters had other ideas.
In a very crowded field of 14 candidates, Woods finished a very respectable fourth, with 8% of the vote. The Democratic winner, California Lt. Governor John Garamendi had 26 percent and will now face a general election challenge from Republican and minor party candidates November 3.
Despite the loss, Woods brought attention to an otherwise unnoteworthy election, because had he won, the Iraq War veteran and Harvard graduate would have been the nation’s first Black openly gay member of Congress. While he has not discussed the possibility of running for future office, he did promise supporters that he would continue to be a voice for the causes in which he believes.
The special election to fill California’s 10th Congressional District seat is September 1, and Democratic candidate Anthony Woods is rallying support for a weekend of get out the vote activities. Woods, who would become the first openly gay Black member of Congress if elected, is one of more than a dozen candidates vying for the seat previously held by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who has left to take a position in the Obama State Department.
While only registered voters in the district can vote for Woods, he’s soliciting help from where ever he can get it. Anyone in the country can contribute money to the campaign, but he’s also organized virtual phone banks, so supporters across America can call undecided voters in the district and tell them about his campaign.