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

The Facts

Table of Contents
Introduction: Chapter One: Chapter Two: Chapter Three: Chapter Four: Chapter Five: Chapter Six: Chapter Seven: Chapter Eight: Chapter Nine: Chapter Ten: Chapter Eleven: Michael Bloomberg v. The People of New York City: The Spin v. The Facts Prudent Financial Management or Smoke and Mirror Politics? War on the Middle Class Turning Over Public Parks to Private Developers The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove The Bogus Education Improvements Gay Rights: Flip-Flops and Endorsements The Affordable Housing Mayor? Bloomberg on Transit and the MTA Laying Siege to Our Neighborhoods The Arrogant Mega-Billionaire Mayor Thinks We’re Stupid Will He Love Us in December as He Does Today? Don’t Count on it

Introduction
What makes me angry is that they are so callous, really callous … When you see uncaring people in high places, everybody should be mad as hell. — William Sloan Coffin The woman had three kids with her. The oldest was a boy maybe thirteen. He and his mother were walking uptown on Third Avenue. They were struggling with three beat up old suitcases. Almost certainly everything they owned. The two little girls were trailing along behind them. They all looked so weary. The boy, just a skinny kid, was lugging the heaviest suitcase trying to look tough. I knew they were heading for some kind of SRO or shelter where he, the man of the family, would have to deal with who knows what kind of evil. It makes me sad to think about them. Now we read again about the delirious multimillion-dollar Wall Street bonuses; that makes me mad. I don’t think it bothers Michael Bloomberg though; that makes me mad as hell. New York has become a city controlled by and managed for the benefit of the rich—Michael Bloomberg’s Luxury City. Strengthening New York as the world’s premier financial capital is the strategic vision that informs the mayor’s policies and programs. The plan for one million new residents over the next twenty years—the richer the better—is an expression of that vision. The investment bankers, lawyers, and accountants, the human infrastructure needed to run Wall Street, will live in the luxury condominiums, buy the tax-deductible season tickets, and sit in the luxury boxes in taxpayer-financed, billion-dollar sports stadiums. They will underwrite the mainstream cultural institutions, dine in the designer restaurants, and shop in the high-end retail stores. The massive public subsidies, the skyrocketing rents, the privatization of publicly financed housing, the public parks given over to developers, even the heavy and abusive police presence in public schools and poorer neighborhoods are all part of it. The mayor’s call for deregulating Wall Street shortly before its excesses triggered our financial meltdown was a serious mistake. Moreover, Wall Street as a short hand expression for the financial services industry depends less and less on a physical location. That so much of the debt the mayor has incurred and the policies he has pursued have been driven by the idea that the city’s future is tied to Wall Street’s growth only compounds the mistake. Yet, it continues to drive Bloomberg’s plans and programs. It is a colossal policy error. We will experience its consequences shortly after the election. It isn’t only the poor who bear the brunt of the Bloomberg program. Middle class New Yorkers are under severe pressure. The poor of course understand it best because it is they who feel it the most. Approximately 1.1 million New York households fall into the low-income category. Once the rent is paid, they have less than $5 a day per family member for everything else—food, medical, transportation, education, etc.1 There is something very wrong with a city that contains within it such great disparity of wealth and whose highest ranking politician is also its wealthiest
1

See: Making The Rent, 2002 to 2005: Changing Rent Burdens & Housing Hardships Among Low-Income New Yorkers, December 2006, The Community Service Society

person. Michael Bloomberg, or just “Mike” as his publicists prefer, never utters a word about the problem. Instead, he pursues policies that exacerbate it. “Life is unfair,” he has said. Get over it. And then there is the political corruption by which the mayor has gained and held office, not the corruption of the bribe-taker, but that of the giver. The lesser politicians who are its recipients have made the giving and taking legal, but by the standards of experience and common sense, it reeks. The mayor has spent untold millions to buy the Republican Party, as well as the Independence Party, a cult with a ballot line that provided his margin of victory in 2001 and may be needed to do so again. The mayor has spent additional hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to overwhelm Bill Thompson, who is by all accounts a perfectly competent public official. As comptroller, he understood the City’s finances well enough to have complained in writing early on about the massive debt the mayor was incurring through backdoor financing schemes. We have seen the letter. It’s a public document. Beyond the direct campaign expenditures, the mayor’s control of billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and government approvals, his well-targeted philanthropy directed at New York’s community groups and civic institutions, and his network of the powerful and the privileged have intimidated those who would be expected to speak out. And everything—or at least everything that we know of—has been done within the law. There is something very wrong with a society that offers rich people so many legal ways to do the wrong thing. And it is all so visible. Many understand what’s going on; some do not. The mayor believes that we are all fish that have no conception of the water we swim in. We haven’t seen anything quite like the Bloomberg phenomenon in our lifetimes. Respectable public figures have given this truly naked emperor a pass. Taking on “Mike” is a full-time, mostly thankless task. Leaders can’t do it. If they aren’t personally compromised, they worry about a vengeful mayor taking it out on the people they represent or whose paychecks they feel responsible for. This is another one of those times that test whether The People are still out there and have the will to make themselves heard—to take responsibility as citizens rather than doff their caps as subjects: progress through politics. We believe that if New Yorkers understood the truth of the past eight years and the consequences of another four, they would not go along; hence the spin, a term that has crept into the political vocabulary as though it is a more benign form of the propaganda used to control other peoples in places we think of as undemocratic. What follows is our effort to unbundle some of the facts that have brought our city to the edge of oligarchy and bankruptcy. — Neil Fabricant

Chapter One
Bloomberg: Prudent Financial Management or Smoke and Mirrors Politics?
THE SPIN Mike has taken steps to stabilize New York’s budget by addressing long-standing financial issues. Because of Mike’s decision to save in good times in order to prepare for bad times, the City’s finances are in far better shape than those of the state or federal governments. To prepare for a future downturn, Mike has cut planned spending by more than $2 billion, reduced debt costs by $3.2 billion, and set aside $2.5 billion for retirees’ benefits. If Mike had not taken those steps, instead of confronting a crisis today we’d be caught in a cataclysm.2 THE FACTS Between 2002 and 2008, the City’s revenues increased from $27 billion to $46 billion, a 70% increase due largely to Wall Street’s booming profits. Jason L. Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board observed in an October 16, 2008 column that “instead of using the flush-year surpluses to put New York's fiscal house in order, however, Mr. Bloomberg mostly squandered them.” By 2008, Bloomberg had increased operating expenditures from $43.6 billion to $65.3 billion, a total increase of 50 percent or 5.2 percent annually on average while inflation averaged 2.9 percent annually.3 Bloomberg's 2008 budget was nearly 45% larger than the last Giuliani budget in 2001.4 Bloomberg is now using debt to fund operating deficits and he is financing much of the capital program through off-budget entities. Instead of decreasing the City’s dependence on Wall Street, Bloomberg dramatically increased the City’s debt burden. Between 2000 and 2008, debt grew by 5.7% annually.5 Debt service, including Transitional Finance Authority debt and adjustments for prepayments, will grow from $4.7 billion in 2009 to $6.5 billion in 2013, an annual average increase of 8.4 percent.6 Much of the debt is variable rate; as interest rates rise, the growing debt burden will rise with them. When all forms of local debt are accounted for, the Citizens Budget Commission projects that total debt outstanding will be over $100 billion by fiscal year 2012, compared to $56 billion when Bloomberg assumed office.7 The debt burden is unsustainable. Budget cuts and higher taxes will follow before the year is out.
2 3

http://www.mikebloomberg.com/ Citizen’s Budget Committee: http://www.cbcny.org/CBC%202008%20NYC%20Letter.pdf 4 http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/19/opinion/mr-giuliani-s-newbudget.html?scp=2&sq=Giuliani+Budget+billion&st=nyt 5 http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/miarticle.htm?id=2924 6 http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/Mayreport2009.pdf 7 Citizen’s Budget Committee: http://www.cbcny.org/CBC%202008%20NYC%20Letter.pdf

HIGHER TAXES AND ROSY SCENARIOS New Yorkers are already paying local taxes that are more than twice the national average. The tax burden is higher than at the start of the Bloomberg administration. In fiscal year 2002, the City tax burden was $71 for every $1,000 of personal income. At the end of fiscal year 2007, the City’s tax burden surpassed $100 for every $1,000 of personal income.8 The tax burden is unsustainable. In its May 2009 report, the Independent Budget Office’s (IBO) tax revenue projections for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 were respectively $390 million and $641 million below the Bloomberg Administration’s estimates. IBO projects that the city’s tax revenues will fall by $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2009 and by another $2.2 billion in 2010. IBO points out that this back-to-back decline—which follow a year (2008) of essentially no tax revenue growth—would mark the first time in at least three decades that the city experienced consecutive years of falling tax revenues.9 The City’s annual pension obligation, based in part on salary increases, has skyrocketed from $1.4 billion a year to $6.3 billion. They will be $7.7 billion in 2013, a 5.3 percent annual average increase. These estimates presume a 20 percent loss on pension fund investments in 2009; if losses are greater, the city’s contribution must be higher beginning in 2011. Fringe benefit costs (excluding the education department) grow from $3.8 billion in 2009 to $5.0 billion in 2013, a 7.1 percent annual average rise.10 WHAT DID WE GET FOR ALL THE DEBT AND HIGHER TAXES? “We” got three new sports stadiums (four, including the failed attempt to build a new facility for the Jets), the expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and a ton of vacant luxury high rises and empty office buildings. The projects cost billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies and do nothing for the average New Yorker. Despite the enormous rise in tax collections generated by Wall Street, our infrastructure is in terrible shape and despite the bogus statistics and headlines, the schools are no better, and the students are no better prepared for the difficult world they will find. WHAT DID HE KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT? This mayor is a product of Wall Street. He has favored it with single-minded determination. While many analysts warned of the impending collapse well before 2007 or even 2006 (See, for example, Yale University’s Robert Shiller, New York University’s Nouriel Roubini, and Peter Schiff of Euro-Pacific Capital), Bloomberg not only ignored the warning signs, he pushed for further deregulation and privatization.

8 9

Ibid http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/Mayreport2009.pdf 10 Ibid

In January, 2007, along with Sen. Chuck Schumer whose political career is underwritten by the financial services industry, Bloomberg released a report that decried the excessive regulation of Wall Street. He said it was “devastating for both our city and our nation.”11 He called for less regulation, tight restrictions on punitive damages awarded to defrauded investors, looser capital and auditing requirements, and, in general, an even freer hand for Wall Street. He called it “reform.” The Enron scandal had begun to fade from memory and the banksters thought the time was ripe for the push to deregulate even further. Bloomberg threw his weight behind it. The rationale was a familiar one: If New York City was to maintain its competitive position as a global financial center and get its share of the securitization business that triggered the meltdown—the derivatives, the credit default swaps, the collateralized debt obligations, and so forth, it should not be hamstrung by unnecessary regulations. London was eating into Wall Street’s market share. Commonly known as the race to the bottom, jurisdictions compete for business by lowering taxes and removing regulations designed to ensure the integrity of the markets. The story repeats itself time and again. It was at the heart of the Savings and Loan scandals, a massive series of financial frauds which occurred under Bush pater familias. State politicians rolled over for the S&L fraudsters. Move to our state and you can do pretty much whatever you want to do with your federally insured deposits. The fraudsters bought the deposits from brokers, paid high interest rates, gave the brokers fat commissions, and moved the cash out the door in bogus real estate transactions based on over-appraised swamp land. The insiders made a bundle and taxpayers lost hundreds of billions of dollars. Sound familiar? We are in the midst of an even more serious crisis; The mayor prefers not to discuss what he advocated in 2007. Asked at a May 18th press conference whether he had any comments on the new financial regulations that are being considered in Washington, Bloomberg responded “No, I haven’t looked at that. You know, I’ll leave that to those people that are doing that full-time. I’ve got to worry about the city.”12 It’s the same answer he gives to reporters who ask about term limits or other uncomfortable questions: “I’m too busy running the city.” Issues of competence aside, the question is, as it has been from the day he took office, for whom is he running it?”

11 12

http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/ny_report_final.pdf Gentile, Sal. "Unlike in 2007 Report, Bloomberg Now Silent on Regulation," City Hall News, May 21, 2009

Chapter Two
War on the Middle Class
THE SPIN Google Michael Bloomberg and the middle class and the second item is, “Mike Bloomberg NYC 2009 Middle Class Squeeze.” Here’s what you’ll read: Check out our new television ad. It focuses on the Mayor’s innovative pro-growth plans to fix the economy, help the middle class and create jobs. Mike knows you can’t have a strong city without a strong middle class. You have now entered the magical world of Michael Bloomberg where Who You Gonna Believe, Bloomberg or You Own Lyin’ Eyes? has a special resonance. THE FACTS13 Since the 1990s virtually all the gains made in the New York economy have accrued to the highest income earners. The cost of living has spiraled beyond the reach of many middle class individuals, particularly families. Increasingly, only those at the upper end of the middle class, who can afford the sharply higher housing prices and the steep costs of child care and private schools, can afford to stay—and even among this group, many feel stretched to the limits of their resources. • Manhattan is by far the most expensive urban area in the United States, with an aggregate cost of living more than twice the national average and considerably higher than San Francisco, the second most expensive city.14 (See: The ACCRA Cost of Living Index, an analysis by the Council for Community and Economic Research.) Queens had a higher cost of living in the third quarter of 2008 than all but four of the 315 major urban areas measured. Only Manhattan, San Francisco Honolulu and San Jose were more expensive. Brooklyn likely is as or more expensive than Queens, with the Bronx and Staten Island more affordable but still well above the national norm.15

13

Much of this chapter was taken from a report entitled Reviving the City of Aspiration. It was issued in February, 2009. It is the most definitive work we have seen on what has happened to middle class New Yorkers during the Bloomberg regime. http://www.nycfuture.org/images_pdfs/pdfs/CityOfAspiration.pdf We recommend to anyone interested in New York City’s future that they read the original. The facts speak for themselves. The credits listed in the report are as follows. It was written by Jonathan Bowles, Joel Kotkin and David Giles. It was edited by David Jason Fischer and Tara Colton, and designed by Damian Voerg. Mark Schill, an associate with Praxis Strategy Group, provided demographic and economic data analysis for this project. Additional research by Zina Klapper of www.newgeography.com as well as Roy Abir, Ben Blackwood, Nancy Campbell, Pam Corbett, Anne Gleason, Katherine Hand, Kyle Hatzes, May Hui, Farah Rahaman, Qianqi Shen, Linda Torricelli and Miguel Yanez-Barnuevo. 14 Reviving the City of Aspiration, p. 7 15 Ibid

• •

New York households that earn $60,000 per year don’t enjoy lives that remotely approach middle class lives anywhere else. A $60,000 salary earned in Manhattan is the equivalent of making $26,092 in Atlanta; $31,124 in Miami; and $35,405 in Boston. In less-expensive Queens, that same $60,000 salary carries only as much purchasing power as $37,451 in Atlanta, $44,673 in Miami, or $50,819 in Boston.16 The lack of affordable housing has reached crisis proportions, but housing is not the only problem. New Yorkers pay among the highest prices in the nation for electricity. Telephone service, auto insurance, home heating oil, parking and milk are also higher in New York than virtually anywhere in the continental U.S.17 The combined state and local tax bill is the highest among major cities. And in recent years all of these costs rose much faster than salaries for the average middle class worker.18 Most middle class families in New York today require the incomes of two working parents just to get by; child care becomes a necessity for those without grandparents or other relatives to look after young children. These costs typically run from $13,000 to $25,000 per child, per year—and families often need to keep their kids in day care until at least age four, when they can enroll them in schools.19

BLOOMBERG IS DRIVING OUT THE MIDDLE CLASS Small wonder that New York is rapidly losing its middle class. In 2006, the city had a net loss of 153,828 residents through domestic out-migration, compared to a decline of 141,047 in 1993 when the City was widely perceived as unsafe and undesirable. Those who are leaving—aside from the homeless whom Bloomberg is paying to leave—are the educated professionals who cannot sustain a middle class lifestyle in New York. In 2005, the heart of the Wall Street/Real Estate boom years, we had a net out-migration of 12,955 individuals with bachelor’s degrees; a year later, the number had spiked to 29,370—an increase of 127 percent.20 The city’s sky-high cost of living is the single most important reason that so many middle class New Yorkers find life here untenable. But cost is not the only issue. There are many other deepseated problems that Bloomberg has ignored or exacerbated, and dealt with through public relations and bogus statistics. Middle class families still consider the public education system inferior; the mass transit system, even before the decision to increase fares, was rapidly deteriorating due in no small measure to Bloomberg policy to cut the city’s contribution to mass transit. In a recent New Yorker magazine profile, the mayor singled out the MTA as an excellent government agency. His handlers quickly reminded him it was an election year. Now he makes headlines criticizing the MTA (more of this can be found in Chapter Eight).

16 17

Ibid, 9 Ibid, 7 18 Ibid 19 Ibid 20 Ibid, 5

CREATING MIDDLE CLASS JOBS? THAT’S A REAL WHOPPER Bloomberg’s policies aren’t designed to create middle class jobs. In 2007, health care and social assistance—one of the lowest paying industries—made up 17.4 percent of all private sector jobs in New York City, up from 12.7 percent in 1990. It was a higher percentage than Charlotte, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Houston, Los Angele, Chicago and Boston.21 Between 1975 and 2007, average weekly wages, when adjusted for inflation, barely increased in the boroughs outside of Manhattan. During this period, real weekly wages went up by just 1.1 percent in Queens, 1.7 percent in Brooklyn, 2.5 percent in Staten Island and 8.6 percent in the Bronx. In contrast, real weekly wages in Manhattan jumped 96 percent.22 Luxury City policies have accelerated a decades-long trend in which poor people and immigrant newcomers work at low-paying jobs to serve wealthy people. Younger residents leave once they enter their 30s and begin establishing families. One might think of it as an urban version of Bloomberg’s East Hampton locale where low-income and working class people can no longer afford to live in the towns they grew up in, but travel some distances to service the wealthy week-enders. The securities industry on which the mayor has gambled so much of the City’s future has never reached its 2000 peak employment levels. Forecasters believe the industry job losses could reach 243,000 over the next two years.23 By any measure, even before the meltdown, Bloomberg’s was a flawed vision. In pursuing it with characteristic determination, he locked in place the massive debt that New Yorkers will be paying for years to come and he gave away billions in subsidies that will never be returned in jobs created, small businesses saved, new industries attracted, or critical infrastructure upgraded. We can’t say it any better than the folks who wrote the report: Unfortunately, city and state officials have squandered opportunities in recent years to address these issues in favor of a succession of high-profile development projects from the construction of three new sports stadiums (four, including the failed attempt to build a new facility for the Jets) and expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to the redevelopment of Penn Station and rehabbing of Governor‘s Island. In total, these projects would cost taxpayers billions of dollars in subsidies while providing minimal benefits to the average middle class resident. Indeed, despite the staggering rise in tax collections generated by the stock market and real estate transactions over the past decade, city and state officials did little to upgrade critical infrastructure.24

21 22

Ibid.7 Ibid, 29 23 Ibid, 24 24 Ibid 46

Bloomberg’s disgraceful overturning of term limits aside; it is simply unacceptable for him to suggest, as he repeatedly does, that he has pursued his policies in the interests of middle class New Yorkers. This mayor has managed the city for the benefit of Wall Street bankers, leveraged buyout artists, and real estate barons. And we aren’t the only ones who think so. MAINSTREAM CONSERVATIVES AND CENTER-RIGHT REPUBLICANS AGREE: BLOOMBERG HAS WAGED WAR ON THE MIDDLE CLASS Here is Fred Siegel of the Manhattan Institute and a visiting professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn and Harry Siegel, an editor at Politico. We don’t agree with much of their conservative philosophy, nor they with ours, but they understand what the mayor has been up to these past eight years, and what he is up to today. 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. Bloomberg's purportedly middle-class vision has always involved subsidies running ever-higher up the economic scale, paid out as a cut of Wall Street profits. But with much of the finance sector on federal life support, that would require ever higher taxes that in turn squeeze out the private sector middle class. New York, dependent on exceptionally high taxes, will lag behind the national recovery. And when the federal stimulus money dries up, the future will be rough for the middle class, never mind the deluge of campaign advertisements claiming otherwise.25 Similarly, the grass roots members of the Republican Party whose ballot line Bloomberg has now rented three times from its shameless leaders; also understand that the Mayor has left the middle class out to dry. Here is an excerpt from Urban Elephants, the center-right Republican Web site that covers New York and national politics: Middle Class voters who are frustrated with the excessive level of our City's taxation, fines and fees are the swing vote in this year's election and have been the difference in both of Bloomberg's victorious electoral efforts. But starting with when the billionaire politician broke from his pledge NOT to raise taxes in 2002, the Mayor has kept up the tax and spend momentum and has continually frustrated the average New Yorker… Middle Class and Republican voters, both of whom are the main tax contributors for the billionaire's reckless spending policies, are fed up and I'm confident that the Bloomberg camp already knows this fact all too well from internal polling. That is why one shouldn't be surprised to see the two-term incumbent doubling his 2001 campaign spending this year and why the Mayor has
25

"Stuck in the middle: In mayor’s race, working families have two lousy options," The Daily News, Sept. 27, 2009

attempted to change the course of the conversation away from property and sales taxes to items like the MTA.26 Who knows? Maybe the mayor is sincere after all when he says he is working hard for the middle class; just another out of touch mega billionaire. When President and Mrs. Obama visited the City, the mayor enthused “We were ecstatic to have the Obamas come here. I can’t think of anything that is better, as an advertisement for our tourism industry, for Broadway, for our restaurants, for saying this is a safe city and an affordable city. The President does not get paid that much. He is on a budget, too.” President Obama earns $400,000 a year. He has a $50,000 expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account and a $19,000 entertainment budget. The total compensation package is $569,000 a year. From Bloomberg’s perch atop a $16 billion dollar pile, Obama is struggling to make ends meet. In Bloomberg’s New York, that isn’t so far off the mark.

26

“Bloomberg's Attacks on Republicans and the Middle-Class Getting Coverage,” www.UrbanElephants.com, Sept. 14, 2009

Chapter Three
Turning Over Public Parks to Private Developers
THE SPIN Mayor Bloomberg has led New York’s greatest parks development and revitalization program in more than half a century.27 THE FACTS Bloomberg has emphatically not created more public parks during his eight years in office than Robert Moses or even LaGuardia did (at over 29,000 park acres)! Not one large park has been created under Bloomberg, and for all his big park initiatives (Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the eight so-called destination parks in Plan NYC), all are hopelessly on-hold or delayed beyond any realistic prospect of use in the foreseeable future. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the percent of the city’s budget dedicated to parks has actually shrunk to the lowest level since the fiscal crisis of 1970’s—to .038 percent in the 2007-08 fiscal year. And that is from a high of 1.4 percent of the city’s budget under prior mayors. Instead of creating parks, Michael Bloomberg has renamed sidewalks and esplanades around private housing, green space on top of private buildings, and tiny little triangles in the middle of busy intersections, “public parks.” Bloomberg calls these venues “ribbons of parks” or “ribbons of green”. Ribbons they are, but they are only that—ribbons. The East River esplanade, 30 feet of green space on the Gowanus Canal, the 30 foot-wide esplanade called Brooklyn Bridge Park (planned to run around 6 luxury condo towers), the 25-foot walkway around new luxury condo towers on the Williamsburg waterfront, and medians along roadways are just a few examples of what Bloomberg calls “public parks”. “Ribbons” aren’t honest to goodness parks with recreational facilities for baseball and soccer, swimming pools, and ice rinks—real public park space for active as well as passive recreation. Nor are they parks that are kept clean with (can you imagine?) restrooms that are actually open and functioning. One critic of Bloomberg’s ideas about what a new park is, the Executive Director of the Waterfront Alliance, called Bloomberg’s vision, “Esplanadia.”28

27 28

Bloomberg campaign flier, 9/09 NY Times, March 24, 2008

THE SPIN “Since he took office, over 527 acres of new parkland have been added....” THE FACTS There is no public information available that outlines what or where these 527 acres of new park lands are, or how they are calculated. Repeat calls to the Mayor’s Parklands office yielded no information whatsoever (and a question from them about where the fact came from in the first place)! There is every reason to believe these are voodoo park numbers. But communities across the city have chronicled some of the parks and park lands that have either been destroyed or taken over by private interests under Mayor Bloomberg. These include: 1. Twenty-five acres of a popular public park that were obliterated for the super-expensive, tax payer-sponsored, private Yankee Stadium. The promised replacement parklands are a bait and switch effort by the Mayor to deceive the public—more than half of the replaced park ands are parks that already existed! Unlike the mayor’s press releases claiming “more parklands,” there is a net loss of land. And all the promised park lands have yet to be restored or built to anything remotely matching the playing fields, active recreational features and mature trees from the destroyed park. (But, no worry, the children of the Bronx can now spend $250 to watch a Yankee Game). 2. Washington Square Park where several acres are set aside in this iconic park for a restaurant. The community fought the first super-sized restaurant in this park, and a fence that would have effectively blocked this iconic park’s use for large public gatherings. 3. Union Square Park where the mayor wants to take over the north end of the park for an upscale restaurant—in this, the least parked community in all of NYC, in the center of the densest restaurant district! 4. Dozens of acres of parkland promised as recompense to the Williamsburg Brooklyn community when 30 and 40 story condo towers were constructed on the shoreline, forever blocking access to the waterfront. Not one of the promised public parks from what the Mayor hailed as the best of public/private partnerships has materialized. Most disturbingly, the Bloomberg Park Doctrine is to have parks be revenue generators for the city’s overall budget allowing, at unprecedented levels, private enterprise to take over more and more of existing park lands. Evidence of privatization of our public parks is the Mayor’s recent press announcement (9/29/09): The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce that it recently added a new section to its website dedicated specifically to concessions. You can check it out at www.nyc.gov/parks/concessions. The website now provides an in-depth description of our concession program and allows users to submit ideas for new concessions, join our opportunities mailing lists, and see all of the Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Requests for Bids

(RFBs) that are currently available for download…. We hope the site proves to be a handy resource for businesses and members of the public alike. In the future, you can look forward to the addition of more interactive features, such as maps, more detailed information, and pictures of our concessions. Does anyone remember when the Parks Department actually spent its time on park recreation and not private enterprise and business ventures?! THE SPIN “…and the City has plans to build eight new regional parks.”29 THE FACTS Since the Mayor announced his grand scheme for eight regional parks (they are: Calvert Vaux/Drier Oberman and McCarren in Brooklyn, Washington and High Bridge in Manhattan, Sound View in the Bronx, Highland and Rockaway in Queens, Sound View in Staten Island) not one is substantially underway. Seven of the eight are not funded and the one that is underway is not funded for completion. Nor have the communities that surround most of these parks been engaged to develop ideas or requests for recreational features. As with all of the Mayor’s grand plans, unless the private real estate sector is behind it (like with six high-rise condo towers like inside Brooklyn Bridge Park, or condo towers on Coney Island) they won’t happen soon (or ever?). Whatever happened to the idea that parks are critical to making the city livable? That parks are fundamental amenities, like sewers, potable water, roads, and mass transit? THE SPIN “As part of PlaNYC, Mike has set the ambitious goal of making sure that every New Yorker lives within a ten minute walk of a park.”30 THE FACTS Most New Yorkers are already living within a 10-minute walk away from some form of recreational space. That space is public school yards. The Mayor is not doing anything to add significant new park space, he is just touting his plan to open up what should already be open to the public—the schoolyards surrounding public schools—after school and on weekends. The only problem is, he isn’t moving very fast on that, either. Announced with great fanfare in 2007, only a few schoolyards are now open under his initiative, and hundreds are left waiting. THE SPIN Mayor Bloomberg, the “green mayor.”31
29 30

Bloomberg’s Plan NYC and campaign flier, 9.09 Bloomberg campaign flier

THE FACTS One-third of the Mayor’s green “initiatives”, and arguably all of the biggest ones, are significantly stuck or on indefinite hold. These initiatives include anti-idling technology for cabs, improved access to JFK, LIRR and Metro North stations, special bus traffic lights at 200 intersections (all were to have had them by now but only two do), Drier-Obberman Park on the Brooklyn Waterfront (the first “destination park” was to have opened in 2011 now probably not until 2015, if then), and the remaining 7 other destination parks.32 His much ballyhooed wind turbine initiatives, particularly on Staten Island, are also on permanent hold, much to the consternation of local residents and politicians who have worked collaboratively to bring alternative energy solutions to their borough. The mayor’s belief that he knows better than the people he is supposed to represent, his stubborn unwillingness to listen to communities, and his unwillingness to address very doable and cost effective solutions that would make our city more livable and green today, as recommended by local community boards all over the city, has led to no legacy at all when it comes to more or better public parks, or a greener city of the future. In short, Mayor Bloomberg’s continuing disregard for democracy and the interactive public process has led to no legacy at all when it comes to a more livable city. His Parks-Doctrine alone should bar him from voters’ consideration this fall.

31 32

August 09 campaign flier See NY Post, Not So Easy Being Green, 10.04.09

Chapter Four
The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove
Michael Bloomberg’s eight-year mayoral regime has brought about as severe a curtailment of civil liberties as we have experienced in New York’s modern history. It has little to do with 9/11. The abusive police practices in the public schools he controls, his illegal and repeated curtailment of freedom of speech and assembly, and his approval of countless illegal police practices have kept the City’s Corporation Counsel working overtime to defend the indefensible. The mayor has been quieter than his predecessor, and most often has restricted the worst abuses to the poorer neighborhoods so that middle class New Yorkers aren’t aware of what’s going on. For that reason alone, he has been a greater threat to the civil liberties and political rights of New Yorkers than Rudolph Giuliani ever was. Taking into account the unprecedented act of disrespecting our vote, it isn’t even close. THE FACTS There are of course always police violations of civil liberties. What follows are brief descriptions of some of the more systemic civil liberties violations. Again, we have quoted liberally from the original sources and refer the reader to fuller accounts in the references provided. THE ANTI-IRAQ WAR PROTEST33 On February 15, 2003, in cities around the world, millions of people took to the streets to protest against the impending war with Iraq. The sole exception to this world-wide day of peaceful protest marches was New York City, where the NYPD not only refused to allow protesters to march past the United Nations as they had requested but also refused to allow them to march anywhere else in the City. This extraordinary decision came at a time when the NYPD had adopted a policy of denying permits for all protest marches. Though the New York City rally drew hundreds of thousands of protesters, it was deeply marred by police actions that restricted access to the rally site. Tens of thousands of protesters never made it to the event, and hundreds were arrested just trying to get there. In addition, the NYPD confined protesters in “pens” — metal barricades used to form closed areas. New York City was unique in its suppression of the world wide protest against the war. REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION34 At Bloomberg’s invitation, the Republican National Committee held its presidential nominating convention in New York City in August 2004. In an overwhelmingly Democratic city whose residents were bitterly opposed to George Bush and his policies, it came as no surprise that there were massive protests. The police arrested some 1,800 peaceful demonstrators and many bystanders. Most of the arrests were illegal, and almost all were for minor offenses. There was
33 34

http://www.nyclu.org/files/nyclu_arresting_protest.pdf http://www.nyclu.org/pdfs/rnc_report_083005.pdf

also pervasive police surveillance of lawful demonstrators, illegal fingerprinting, prolonged detention, and illegal interrogation as to the political beliefs and affiliations of the detainees. The lawsuits are ongoing. BLANKET RESTRICTIONS ON THE RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE FOR PEACEFUL PROTEST35 Section 10-110 of the New York City Administrative Code requires that a permit be obtained from the Police Commissioner before a “parade” can take place “upon any street or in any public place.” The term “parade,” however, is not defined in the Code. The NYPD has adopted regulations that define “parade” as any “recognizable group” of “50 or more pedestrians, vehicles or bicycles” that “procee[d] together upon any public street or roadway.” If a group of 50 or more gathers on a sidewalk, in the road, or in the parks without a permit, they can be arrested. The rules affect pedestrians, vehicles, and cyclists alike. The NYPD began enforcing these rules February 25th 2007. Do you want to protest against Bloomberg? Do you have more than 50 people in your group? Get a police permit or risk jail. MARIJUANA ARRESTS36 Michael Bloomberg proudly proclaims that he has smoked and enjoyed marijuana: “You bet I did!” Simple possession of small amounts of marijuana (less than 7/8ths of an ounce) is not a crime in New York State. Since 1977 it has been a violation, like a traffic violation. Yet, Bloomberg countenances the arrest and jailing of more people for possessing marijuana than any city in the United States, and more than any city in the world. In 1992, when Giuliani was mayor, there were 900 arrests. Giuliani increased the number of arrests, but with breathtaking hypocrisy Bloomberg has surpassed him. The marijuana possession arrests are in part a fruit of New York City’s aggressive stop and frisk campaign. In 2006 alone, the NYPD stopped, frisked and often searched over 500,000 men and women. For the people arrested, mostly young Blacks and Latinos, the 24 hours in police custody and jail is a humiliating, degrading, alienating experience. The arrests create permanent criminal justice records which limit employment and educational opportunities. The entire arrest, booking and court process socializes young people from poor families and neighborhoods to the criminal justice system, teaches them how to handle themselves within it, and functions as a kind of Head Start program for future arrests, incarceration, and unemployment. TRESPASSING ARRESTS37 Trespassing arrests are up a staggering 25 percent since 2002—and this is no crime wave, no trespassing epidemic. In 2003, the NYPD launched the so-called “Clean Halls” program, a part of "Operation Impact." In a "Clean Halls" building or in public housing, “Operation Clean Halls”
35 36

http://www.assembleforrightsnyc.org/ http://www.nyclu.org/files/MARIJUANA-ARREST-CRUSADE_Final.pdf 37 http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-10-30/news/rousting-the-cops/1

purports to allow police officers to stop, search, question, and arrest anyone in or even near the building in an action called a "vertical." It has been touted as a tool for keeping drugs and drug dealing out of low-income housing (it’s important always to keep in mind that every public program is justified with a public purpose. What else would justify it? ) but this program means that once a landlord signs a Clean Halls affidavit, no resident can leave their home without papers. The police flood poorer neighborhoods with rookie police officers who make as many arrests as possible. In the 28-month period following the launch of the operation, 72,000 arrests were made in the targeted areas. Rather than plead innocent of any crime or violation and suffer endless court appearances or detention, most of those arrested simply plead guilty to disorderly conduct or a violation of some sort and end up with records. DESTROYING THE SCHOOLS TO SAVE THEM: TERRORIZING STUDENTS AND TEACHERS38 Below are excerpts from a report issued by the New York Civil Liberties Union on the police presence in New York’s public schools. Most New Yorkers are unaware of how pervasive and abusive that presence is. 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. The numbers have continued to rise to the point that NYPD’s School Safety Division alone constitutes the tenth largest police force in the country—larger than the police forces of Washington, D.C., Detroit, Boston, or Las Vegas. Police officers often arrogate to themselves authority that extends well beyond the 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 to do with school safety. On occasion they subject educators who question the NYPD’s treatment of students to retaliatory arrests. More routinely, they subject students to inappropriate treatment including: • Derogatory, abusive and discriminatory comments and conduct • Intrusive searches • Unauthorized confiscation of students’ personal items, including food, cameras and school supplies • Inappropriate sexual attention • Physical abuse • Arrest for minor non-criminal violations of school rules. Below are two of scores of reported cases. They give one a sense of the police state atmosphere that Bloomberg has imposed on the public schools.

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http://www.nyclu.org/pdfs/criminalizing_the_classroom_report.pdf

Aisha Aisha is a fifteen-year-old tenth grader who attends Samuel J. Tilden High School. On January 18, 2007, Aisha left a class a few minutes late with a friend. As the two proceeded to the cafeteria, Assistant Principal Lewis stopped the girls outside the “focus room” (school detention center), and ordered them inside. Aisha began to protest, saying that they were not “roaming the halls” but were on their way to lunch. Her friend advised her to follow Lewis’s instructions. Sergeant Lipscomb, an armed police officer, stepped in, grabbed Aisha’s book bag, and ordered her to the focus room. Although Aisha responded, “That’s where I’m going,” Lipscomb pushed her. Aisha protested loudly and informed Lipscomb that she was going to take down his name and badge number. In response, Lipscomb jerked Aisha’s left arm behind her back at a painful angle, a jolt which also caused her right hand to slam against the wall. Aisha cried out in pain. Students inside the focus room began to protest, saying that the two girls were just going to lunch. Aisha continued to cry. Mr. Fannon, a teacher monitoring the focus room, tried to calm her down. Aisha was forced to go to the dean’s office. There, a female officer removed Aisha’s jacket and searched her. Officer Rivera also searched Aisha’s backpack. Thereafter, Aisha was taken to the police precinct where she received a summons to appear in family court. The summons did not indicate any charges against her. Aisha and her mother returned home that evening to a phone call from Assistant Principal Lewis apologizing for the incident. Quinn Kronen and Cara Wolfson-Kronen On March 8, 2005, at least seven NYPD officers arrived at the New School for Arts and Sciences after teachers called 911 to ask for medical assistance for a student who had been involved in a fight. Several teachers had successfully stopped the fight and controlled the situation before the police responded, and Cara Wolfson-Kronen, a social studies teacher, informed the 911 operator that the fight had been defused. Despite this, one of the officers demanded that the teachers identify the students who had been involved in the fight and said that they would be handcuffed. Quinn Kronen, an English teacher, pointed out that those students were now peacefully sitting in the classroom. Officer Bowen responded by yelling: “You fucking teachers need to get your shit together. These kids are running crazy. You need to get rid of them.” When Mr. Kronen objected to such language, Sergeant Walter told Mr. Kronen that he had “better shut the fuck up” or she would arrest him. When Ms. Wolfson-Kronen objected, Sergeant Walter said: “That is it; cuff the bitch.” Officers arrested Ms. Wolfson-Kronen, paraded her out of school in handcuffs and forced her to stand outside in sub-freezing temperature without a jacket. They also arrested Mr. Kronen. The teachers were detained at the 41st Precinct for approximately two hours before being released. The charges against them—disorderly conduct—were dismissed at their initial court hearing, because their alleged wrongdoing did not constitute unlawful activity. On March 22, 2005, Mr. Kronen and Ms. Wolfson-Kronen received an anonymous letter signed by “The Brotherhood.” The letter threatened them with physical harm for “messing up wit h our

fellow officers” continuing: “[i]f I were you I’d be planning my getting out of New York fast.” The teachers turned the letter over to a police officer. The Civilian Complaint Review Board and the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD did not reach any conclusions or resolution. Even if one were to rationalize the heavy police presence as a regrettable necessity to make schools safe for learning, neither the claim of improved safety nor the claim of improved learning can withstand scrutiny. The Bloomberg-Klein claims about about decreases in school crime are misleading. The DOE reports declines as large as 59 percent for major crime incidents and 33 percent for all crime at the Impact Schools, but the numbers on which these percentages are based are so low that even very small numerical decreases create large percentage changes. For example, at Christopher Columbus High School behavior officially classed as violent crime decreased from 17 incidents during the 2004-2005 school year to 10 during the 2005-2006 school year, which represented a 41 percent decline on paper, but only a small decrease in actual incidents. (See: The National Center for Schools and Communities at Fordham University) Deinya Phenix, an NYU educational analyst, used regression analysis to establish that the decline in crime figures at Impact Schools is not statistically significant compared to simultaneous declines at other high schools. Crime in schools had been declining for years before the Impact Schools program. “The most important factor in the decrease in school crime says Phenix, “is the passage of time.” Pedro A. Noguera, a professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education, observes: “Schools that rely on security guards and metal detectors to create safety may end up creating an environment that is so repressive that it is no longer conducive to learning.” Several members of the BOE who voted for the NYPD school safety takeover in September 1998 have since come to regret their decision. BOE member Dr. Irving S. Hamer, Jr. is a lifelong Harlem resident who holds advanced degrees from Harvard University and has held senior research positions at Yale University’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies. Now a professor of education at Columbia Teachers College, Hammer says that he regrets his vote and hates that he was part of a process that has resulted in the criminalization of school children, particularly children of color. “I couldn’t then and still can’t understand why you would have an armed police officer with mace and a firearm and clubs and handcuffs in an already safe school,” Hamer says. “There were some schools that were indeed troubled, but not all schools. I did not and do not understand the lack of differentiation between schools with needs and those without.” Another BOE member, who asked to remain anonymous, says: “The ten years since the transfer to the NYPD have confirmed all my fears. I never felt that a school should have armed police officers patrolling it. Schools are not penitentiaries. It bothers me to see a nine-millimeter gun strapped around the waist of an adult in school, and it’s more than bothering to children.” Our focus in this chapter has been on civil rights and liberties; we have barely touched on the disastrous education results that have followed from Bloomberg’s takeover and management of the public school system. The relentless effort to cover up failure with bogus statistics is

characteristic of Bloomberg’s approach to this election: Progress. Not Politics. Chapter Five takes up those issues.

Chapter Five
The Bogus Education Improvements
Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein have worked hard at getting the public to believe that they turned around a failing, inefficient system. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, the data they present to show progress is false and misleading. Our kids are not performing better, and not gaining the skills they need to go onto college. They have implemented data systems and accountability measures, but have put no resources in at the school level to improve them. In fact, they have left school improvement up to schools themselves, which, in many cases, are staffed by new principals and teachers. Inevitably some schools will succeed and others will fail. Guaranteeing that schools fail is not a way to improve education, but that is the Bloomberg-Klein plan. Closing failing schools will allow them to open charter schools, a “reform” effort which has no definitive research backing it. It will turn the system over to private managers who are exempt from public accountability. We need to support public schools with strong training for teachers and principals to help all schools become successful. Then we can hold schools accountable for progress. We need to ensure that students are not just passing tests, but learning the skills they will need for college and beyond. TEST SCORE IMPROVEMENTS THE SPIN The number of both fourth-graders and eighth-graders passing state reading and math exams has increased by more than 20 percentage points, and at a far faster rate than students in the rest of the State. High school graduation rates have also risen by 15 percentage points. At the same time, the achievement gap between white and minority students has narrowed significantly, with African American and Latino students scoring better on tests and graduating at higher rates. THE FACTS The numbers are grossly overstated. As Diane Ravitch, an historian of education at NYU, has pointed out, data from National Assessment of Educational Progress (the gold standard in educational assessment), fourth-grade mathematics is the only area New York’s students post a solid gain. In eighth-grade mathematics, where the state claimed big increases on its own tests, the NAEP scale score showed no change. In fourth and eighth grade reading, New York’s scale score showed no significant change either.39 Sociologists, Jennifer Jennings and Sherman Dorn, also looked at national data and found that the achievement gap has actually widened under the Bloomberg administration. Using National
39

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/10/opinion/10ravitch.html?ref=opinion

Center for Educational Statistics’ analyses, they show that there were no statistically significant changes in African American-white or Hispanic-white gaps between 2003 and 2007. Based on their own calculations, “African American-Asian and Hispanic-Asian gaps in 8th grade reading, and the Hispanic-Asian gap in math, have grown substantially and these differences are statistically significant.”40 High school graduation rates have not increased much either. According to a report entitled the “Looming Crisis,” compiled by the Coalition for Educational Justice and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, graduation rates look high because students getting local diplomas (does not require passing five Regents exams), GEDs, and Regents diplomas (requires passing five Regents exams) are lumped together. The report shows that the graduation rate is 52 percent (a rise of 6 percentage points), but the racial gaps are huge. The graduation rates for AfricanAmericans and Latinos fall below 30 percent. It is dismally low for special education students and English Language Learners. OVERCROWDING THE SPIN Under Mike, the City has added over 82,000 new classroom seats across the city, many as part of his $13.1 billion capital plan, the largest in the city’s history. Mike wants to add another 28,000 seats in the next five years. THE FACTS The overcrowding in public schools remains a national disgrace. Thousands of new seats in schools across the city are urgently needed.41 As populations grow, especially in Brooklyn and Queens where much development has occurred without regard to where children will attend schools, the problem is especially pronounced (see chart below). It isn’t as though local communities don’t have solid ideas on how to address the needs; the Bloomberg administration simply ignores them. The Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, for example, has been advocating for turning an old armory into schools, but Bloomberg supports commercial development in that neighborhood. He ignores the concerns of community residents for less retail and more services. CHARTER SCHOOLS THE SPIN Mike has overseen a dramatic expansion in the number of charter schools in New York for one reason: charter schools deliver an excellent education for our children. The City plans to open dozens more charters, including the first ever to be located in a NYCHA public housing facility.

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http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentID=15366 http://www.uft.org/news/issues/press/students_still_in_overcrowded_classes/

THE FACTS The most important thing to know about charter schools is that there is no definitive data that shows charter schools do any better than public schools, yet the Bloomberg administration (in line with the federal administration) has supported charter school expansion. Like public schools, there are good ones and bad ones. The mayor should support the development of any good school. However, there is a serious problem with accountability of charters. Because charters are run privately, they need not follow the same rules regarding accountability as public schools do. For instance, charters are not measured by the annual DOE report cards.42 So, how is the city tracking their progress? If report card data is used to shut down underperforming public schools, then we need to collect data on charters to show their performance. Without holding them to the same standard, charters are able to mask their own performance problems. DEMOCRACY THE SPIN Mike believes that parents are critical to our children’s success. That’s why he has created parent coordinators, graded schools, and conducted the largest survey of parents any city has ever undertaken. Next, Mike plans to create P311—311 for parents—that will allow parents to track their student’s progress. Parents will also soon be able to track their children’s learning progress online. THE FACTS The claim that Michael Bloomberg has sought to encourage parent involvement in public schools is a serious contender for the Bloomberg Chutzpah Award, already a field crowded with candidates. In spite of parent complaints, there is still no mechanism for parents to voice concerns about or weigh in on school policy. Parents have been shut out of the process. They cannot share their views on a parent survey designed by the DOE. The old school boards that are now called Community Education Councils do little to help parents either since they have no power to make any decisions. We need a genuine mechanism for parents to have a voice in the system. Parents want more than to track their progress in school. They want to know and have a say in the policies that affect their children’s schools. HAS BLOOMBERG DONE ANYTHING GOOD? THE SPIN Mike increased teacher salaries by 43%. In return, he demands accountability so that good schools prosper and failing schools are shut down.

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http://www.nypost.com/php/pfriendly/print.php?url=http://www.nypost.com/seven/11072007/news/regionalnews/c harter_schools_going_uncharted_872824.htm

THE FACTS Salaries have increased, but so have demands. Teachers are responsible for improving students test scores at the end of each school year without any increased budget for professional support to deal with diverse learners. Consequently, many classrooms are test prep centers, leaving students without any more skills than those which appear on state exams. If they don’t increase student test scores, teachers can lose their jobs; a big tradeoff for a few thousand more dollars. THE SPIN Classrooms are safer. Under Mike, school crime is down 44% since 2001 due to a strict no tolerance policy for disruptive behavior. THE FACTS Under Bloomberg, there has a strict policy of cracking down on disruptive behavior, but at what cost? Classrooms and schools are not safer. They are more policed. Bloomberg has increased the number of school safety agents, an arm of the NYPD. School safety officers take on the role of discipline, and in many schools go well beyond the bounds of appropriate or even legal behavior. Suspension rates have increased dramatically and many students leave high school with a criminal record in addition to a diploma. This was taken up at greater length in Chapter Four.43

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http://www.nyclu.org/files/criminalizing_the_classroom_report.pdf

Chapter Six
Gay Rights: Flip-Flops, Lies, and Campaign Endorsements
There is no reason for LGBT people to drink the Bloomberg Kool-Aid and thus endorse a man who has made numerous cuts in the city's AIDS budget and is in bed with the Republicans who have made opposition to equal rights for us an unshakeable part of their ideology. – Veteran gay journalist, Doug Ireland THE SPIN We see that the tide is turning, that support is mounting. Make no mistake, the time will come ... and we will pass this bill.44 I’m the main [Republican] funder. You know, you can’t dictate every piece of legislation, and I don’t want to say that they’re bribable. But they know where I stand, and they want me to be a supporter.45 THE FACTS ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE AND GAY RIGHTS MORE GENERALLY Michael Bloomberg is by far the biggest individual donor to State Senate Republicans in history. They are the very people blocking votes on gay rights and marriage equality. In 2005, facing a Republican primary, Bloomberg appealed a court order from Justice Doris Ling Cohan ordering NYC to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Prior to appealing the order, Bloomberg declined to say that he supported the right of same-sex couples to marry. Bloomberg fought tooth and nail against marriage equality in New York and had a judge's pro-equality decision reversed. His lawyers cited Leviticus as a basis for their argument. He now claims his Corporation Counsel told him he had to submit the appeal, but reliable sources say otherwise. THE FACTS ON BULLYING IN THE SCHOOLS Bloomberg vetoed the Dignity for All Students Act passed by the City Council in 2004 and refused to implement it when the Council overwhelmingly overrode his veto. Then, in September 2008 before having to face an election, Bloomberg rushed an anti-bullying program into place. Nonetheless, he still refuses to implement its provisions in the New York City schools. He now claims to support the state Dignity in All Schools Act, which would compel him to implement a comprehensive anti-bullying program. In June of this year, religious, racial and LGBT groups condemned his efforts as wholly inadequate.
44

Lisberg, Adam. “Mayor Bloomberg urges New York State to pass bill to allow gay marriage,” New York Daily News, March 25, 2009 45 Schindler, Paul. “Bloomberg Puts Gay Marriage Chances This Year at Zero, Zero,” Gay City News, Oct. 1, 2009

THE FACTS ON AIDS EDUCATION IN THE SCHOOLS The Bloomberg-Klein education administration watered down the AIDS education curriculum and continued Giuliani’s ban on life-saving condom lessons in classrooms. In the pre-Giuliani years, educators were able to demystify condom use and safe sex. THE FACTS ON LGBT HEALTH CARE Bloomberg claims to have created an Office of Gay and Lesbian Health. In fact the office was created under Koch in the early 1980s and eliminated under Giuliani. Bloomberg Health commissioner Thomas Frieden wanted to end written consent for HIV testing over the protest of most AIDS activists. THE SPIN When you are from the city, even your conservative base is more liberal than elsewhere, and also that’s where I can have some influence. If it came to you needing their vote, that’s where I can do something. THE FACTS ON THE EQUAL BENEFITS BILL Michael Bloomberg vetoed City Council legislation to require contractors to provide domestic partner benefits to their workers if they provide marital benefits. When the Council overrode his veto, he successfully challenged the right of the Council even to make such a policy. THE FACTS ON BLOOMBERG’S NATIONAL RECORD In the most crucial presidential elections of our time in 2004 and 2008, Michael Bloomberg refused to support John Kerry or Barrack Obama. These men are far from perfect, but they were infinitely preferable to Bush and McCain on almost every issue. It makes little difference whether Bloomberg’s insatiable political ambition trumped his actual beliefs, or whether the latter are compatible with the anti-gay ideology of the Republican Party. If the former, he is merely a run-of-the-mill hypocrite; if the latter he is morally bankrupt. Of course, both descriptions may fit. Had John McCain won, there is little doubt that the Republican base of bible thumping fundamentalists would have captured the Presidential bully pulpit, and the Republican national legislative program would have continued to advance the party’s anti-gay agenda. A FINAL WORD ON BLOOMBERG’S GAY SUPPORTERS Bloomberg's handlers have rounded up a few gay supporters to help him recast his negative image within the gay community. Apparently, they reason that he is favored to win and that attacking his anti-gay record will cut off their access and thus damage the gay community. Bloomberg’s

handlers have been skillful in amplifying their voices as though they represent the majority. The power of a few hundred million dollars strategically employed in a political campaign should not be underestimated, especially when the pro-Bloomberg press continues to quote the few as spokespersons for the majority. Some well-known gay politicos, as with various civic groups, labor unions, social service agencies, and so forth, are beholden to Bloomberg for grants and contracts or fearful that they will be cut off. In that respect, various high profile people in the gay community are no different from individuals of other organized communities. On the other hand, some gay activists are merely paid political partisans. Again, they are no different from any other group. There are always those who are willing to debase themselves to advance their careers. We wonder how these gay so-called "civil rights activists" maintain that posture while they look the other way at the violations of the rights of women, LGBT people and people of color under the Bloomberg regime. At what point do we recognize this as hypocrisy? At what point do we say "hey, there is a coalition of trust between the disenfranchised; when socalled gay activists throw others to the wind, we lose the moral authority to expect others to stand for us." No one who honestly compares the records of Bloomberg and Thompson on LGBT and AIDS issues can say that Thompson is anything but miles ahead. We can only hope that clear minded and compassionate New Yorkers will reject the hypocrisy and blatant pre-election pandering and choose the candidate whose priority is to help average New Yorkers in very difficult times, someone who has a demonstrable commitment to LGBT rights and ending AIDS.

Chapter Seven
The Affordable Housing Mayor?
For years, Michael Bloomberg has inundated New Yorkers with four-color brochures that trumpet his affordable housing plans. The brochures and press releases pile up but little affordable housing ever materializes. Meanwhile, rents have skyrocketed, working and middle class people have lost their homes, and landlords have made a bundle. 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.46 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. (There are 1,023,000 under some form of rent regulation.) 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.47 Here is what the Marvin 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)

46 47

http://www.mikebloomberg.com/index.cfm?objectid=4E5ABBA7-219B-8B95-7CE79D9EE12630E4 The Rent Guidelines Board is the entity that establishes guidelines for rent stabilized apartments, lofts and hotels in NYC. All members are mayoral appointees.

Based on a one-year lease renewal, 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 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers households that pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income on housing to be “cost-burdened” and those paying more than 50 percent of their income to be “severely cost-burdened.” Nearly 28 percent of all New Yorkers—529,171 renters—are paying 50 percent or more of their income toward rent, and 40 percent of renters spent 35 percent or more of their income on rent.48 Our hypothetical tenant in 2009 should be earning at least $91,764 a year. The median income for tenants who live in rent regulated apartments is $38,000, for tenants who live in unregulated apartments it is $50,200. In our example, when the apartment becomes vacant, it will be destabilized under vacancy decontrol laws that a senate Republican majority pushed through in Albany. Real estate-financed Democrats, of course, have been complicit, but can anyone doubt that if the Mayor were a sincere advocate of affordable housing, as he claims to be, that far more of it would exist today? Skyrocketing rents due to vacancy decontrol and increases imposed by Bloomberg’s RGB appointees have resulted in a dramatic loss of affordable housing, not only in Manhattan but in Queens, Brooklyn, and many other areas throughout the City. In the third quarter of 2008, only 10.6 percent of housing in the metro region was affordable to people earning the median area income, the lowest share of anywhere in the country. The average effective rent in New York was $2,801 in the fourth quarter of 2008, by far the highest in the nation and more than 53% higher than the second highest, San Francisco. 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 between 2003 and 2008: 2003—7,556 2004—4,709 2005—7,378 2006—6,022 2007—5,088 2008—8,267
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Reviving the City of Aspiration, Center for an Urban Future, Feb. 2009

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,49 and so on. Often, the tenants in these newly regulated apartments end up paying higher rents. Here is how many apartments were removed from 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, once affordable apartments lost under Bloomberg.50 That number is the floor. Technical and reporting issues make it difficult to determine how many additional apartments may have been lost to the private market. The sale of Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in 2006 is only the highest profile example of how the Bloomberg administration has presided over and encouraged the disappearance of the City’s middle class housing stock, and with it, the outmigration of middle class young people. Tishman, Speyer bought the property intending to ratchet up the pressure on the older rent regulated tenants, get rid of them as quickly as possible, raise the rents through well established landlord strategies, and refinance and cash out just as so many other landlords have done in the Bloomberg years. However, they couldn’t get tenants out as rapidly as they had projected, rents didn’t rise as quickly as they had hoped, and the financial crisis hit. Thus the iconic development on Manhattan’s East Side, built for the middle class and returning veterans is in litigation and on the edge of bankruptcy, a familiar scenario in once affordable housing throughout the city. New York’s historic building boom during Bloomberg’s first two terms has added nothing to housing for moderate income residents. Most of the developments are aimed at the high ends of the market. And the financial crisis has halted even that housing. Since the fall of 2008 more than $5 billion of new construction projects have been suspended or cancelled. It almost seems like a blessing: If these projects are ever revived, they won’t be affordable to moderate income New Yorkers, and if Bloomberg is reelected, we will continue to lose affordable housing to the private market. That’s the plan.

49 50

http://www.housingnyc.com/html/resources/faq/421a-J51.html See the RGB official website.

BLOOMBERG’S LUXURY CITY “If New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart—it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market. It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.” That’s an excerpt from a Bloomberg talk delivered to a closed-to-the-press audience of business and public sector leaders on January 7, 2003. Michael Bloomberg cannot concede, of course, that his “luxury city” idea has devastated the City and driven out large numbers of middle class New Yorkers. But he probably knows it. He commissioned an internal study in 2006—titled “NYC Movers Study.” It concluded that high housing costs were the number one reason middle class people have found life here untenable. During the boom years 2003-2007, as rents continued to spiral upward along with the cost of living, wages remained flat. Average weekly wages, when adjusted for inflation, barely increased in the boroughs outside of Manhattan—rising by just 0.4 percent on Staten Island, 0.6 percent in Brooklyn, 1.4 percent in Queens and 2.5 percent in the Bronx. In Manhattan, the increase was 21.8 percent. Rent-regulated housing is the single most important component of New York City’s housing stock for low-wage workers. More than a million low-income people (in households with incomes below twice the poverty line) live in rent-regulated housing, compared to a little over half a million in public and subsidized housing combined. However one defines low-and moderate-income, middle class, or working poor, one thing seems clear: They just aren’t in the Bloomberg business plan. “Luxury city” is more than a marketing concept; everything Bloomberg has done, save for the political necessity of printing the affordable housing brochures and making the affordable housing speeches, has been done to promote New York as the best city for rich people to live, work and invest. What a blunder. What hubris. It’s almost biblical. We would be remiss if we didn’t bring up two other items that have to do with housing. We will mention them only briefly. HOMELESS SHELTERS Let’s start with Mayor Bloomberg’s failed Five-Year Homeless Plan, which sought to decrease the number of homeless families living in shelters. According to a report by the Coalition for the Homeless, the mayor took office in 2002 when there were 6,921 families living in shelters. In June of 2004, 8,712 families were living in shelters. He unveiled a five-year plan to reduce homelessness by two thirds. Five years later, the number of homeless families living in shelters has increased by nine percent—9,538 families were living in shelters by the end of May 2009.51 If you were a working family, too poor to afford one of Bloomberg’s affordable apartments, you might have to live in a homeless shelter. Not to worry; the administration would charge no more
51

http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/BloombergPlanFailure.html

than 50% of your take home pay.52 When it was discovered that the mayor had instituted a policy of charging rent to working families in homeless shelters, he said David Paterson made him do it! LEAD PAINT VETO Suppose you had a job and didn’t live in a homeless shelter? Instead you and your wife and two small kids lived in one of the City’s poorer neighborhoods. You could afford a modest rent, say, $600 a month. You came home one day to find your littlest girl, Aisha, chewing on a piece of something that had peeled off the wall. Lead paint. Lead paint is particularly damaging to children under the age of six whose central nervous systems are still developing. It has been linked to attention deficit disorder, stunted growth, low IQs, and kidney problems. But lead paint in housing doesn’t affect anybody the mayor knows. Now if you want to talk about toys, that’s different: everyone’s kids play with toys made in China. In 2004, Bloomberg vetoed legislation that required landlords to identify apartments that house young children and remove the lead paint. He said it would lead to landlords not renting to families with small children, discourage the rehabilitation of affordable housing, and lead to homelessness. (Increasing the minimum wage will lead to unemployment, raising taxes on the wealthy will cost jobs, etc.). This is bedrock Republican political doctrine: oppose social and economic legislation that benefits poor and working class people on the grounds that it will harm poor and working class people. In a rare moment of rebellion, the city council overrode the veto. What does “Mike” do? In January, it was revealed that the New York City Department of Homeless Services placed hundreds of homeless families in apartments contaminated with toxic lead dust and deteriorated lead-based paint, triggering protests at City Hall by lead poisoning prevention and homeless advocates.53

52 53

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/09/nyregion/09shelters.html http://www.afhh.org/res/res_alert_archives_janfeb07.htm

Chapter Eight
Bloomberg on Public Transit and the MTA
Michael Bloomberg has turned public transit and transportation issues into a centerpiece of his campaign. Exploiting the anti-MTA sentiments simmering in the city, he has released what he calls his Better Transit Plan. He says he wants to modernize the system through various station repairs and the addition of countdown clocks. He says he wants to restore F Express service to Brooklyn. He says he wants to overhaul the MTA’s bureaucracy and usher in management reform. The mayor doesn’t have direct control over the MTA but he appoints four of the 17 MTA Board members and has substantial influence over the authority. The Governor has the remaining appointments, some on the recommendation of City and County officials in the MTA service region. The mayor has dominated a weak governor. Thus, he can use his considerable leverage to advance what he says he wants to do or he can hide behind the fact that he doesn’t control the MTA. Election season press releases calling for transit reform and expansion that cost millions of dollars are meant to paper over the fact that he has shortchanged mass transit for years. THE SPIN Bloomberg to MTA: No more excuses. No more delays. Give New York City the subways and buses we deserve. 54 Mike Bloomberg takes the subway to work everyday, so he knows how important mass transit is to our City and how much bus and subway service needs to improve. That's why Mike created an ambitious plan to improve New York City's public transportation by cutting MTA waste and bureaucracy, and reinvesting that money in improved and expanded service, security and quality of life improvements, and innovations that will save New Yorkers time and money. But Mike won't just wait for the MTA to reform itself; he will do everything he can to get New Yorkers moving now.55 THE FACTS “When was the last time a New York City mayor ran for re-election and did not run against the MTA, or any of its predecessors before the MTA was established in 1968? Probably never,” wrote William Murphy in Newsday in August.56 Here’s Bloomberg praising the MTA in a New Yorker profile published the same month he was launching attacks against the agency: [Mayor Bloomberg] also told me that he has consistently found the quality of government employees to be higher than businesspeople generally allow. He
54

Bloomberg’s campaign literature: Murphy, William. "Mayor attacks MTA. (It's an election year, stupid.)," Newsday, Aug. 18, 2009 55 Campaign site: http://www.mikebloomberg.com/index.cfm?objectid=ECAD58FE-C29C-7CA2F16490F6270A0819 56 Murphy, William. "Mayor attacks MTA. (It's an election year, stupid.)," Newsday, Aug. 18, 2009

singled out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a much maligned institution, which had been threatening another fare hike to postpone bankruptcy, and mentioned that he could recall being stuck on the train only once in the past few years. “The problem is, if you never give an agency credit for doing a good job, you’re not going to have good people there and they’re not going to stay motivated,” he said.57 • During the 1980s, the city contributed $200 million a year to the MTA, but today, the annual contributions amount to $75 million. As The New York Times’ columnist Jim Dwyer noted in August, “Since the buying power of the dollar has eroded over the last 20 years, that means the city today is contributing only about 20 cents for every dollar it gave during the 1980s.”58 If Mayor Bloomberg were really serious about transit, he wouldn’t be starving the MTA financially. In his Better Transit Plan, the Mayor calls for station upgrades and an expansion of the Select Bus Service routes. These are part of the MTA’s capital plans, and it is here that the Mayor’s hypocrisy is laid bare. The MTA budgets over $5 billion a year for capital plans, and although the agency has requested $100 million a year from the city to support their State of Good Repair efforts, the Mayor allocates just $60 million out of the $6 billion available to him annually for transit.59 The City is paying the $2.1 billion to extend the 7 Line to 34th St. and 11th Ave. This isn’t being done to benefit the few riders. Instead, it’s an element of the plan to expand the Central Business District. As usual, it’s the financial services industry and the real estate developers who want to build over the Hudson Yards that will reap the benefits from the taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, the mayor has refused to commit to a station at 10th Ave. and 41st St. something that would have a positive impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and the people who already live there. The $2.1 billion could bring a full bus rapid transit to New York City. It could help get the much-needed Second Ave. Subway on a more secure financial footing. Instead, the real winners will be real estate interests while the MTA struggles to meet the demands of its current ridership. The call for the F Express is a typical piece of campaign pandering. The MTA has expressed its willingness to institute an F Express through Brooklyn, but due to a fouryear renovation to the Culver Viaduct, the F Express will not be an option until 2014 at the earliest, one year after the next mayoral term expires60. Here, Bloomberg is simply taking up an issue whose fate has already been decided and turning into a campaign point over which he has no control.

57 58

McGrath, Ben. "The Untouchable," The New Yorker, Aug. 24, 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/nyregion/19about.html 59 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-petro/does-bloomberg-really-wan_b_275540.html 60 http://secondavenuesagas.com/2007/10/23/f-express-plan-on-the-tracks-to-nowhere/

Chapter Nine
Laying Siege to Our Neighborhoods
Michael Bloomberg would like all New Yorkers to believe that the government’s right to eminent domain is vital to building robust cities, and that he has worked responsibly with developers to build housing and commercial properties to benefit all New Yorkers. Ask the people who live in the neighborhoods that have come under siege or those who study the issue, and they’ll tell you a different story. The Institute for Justice named New York “the worst state in the nation when it comes to eminent domain abuse—the forcible acquisition of private property by the government for private development.”61 The City has threatened to condemn homes and small businesses for the New York Stock Exchange, The New York Times, IKEA, Costco, and Stop & Shop. An innercity church lost its future home to eminent domain for commercial development that never came to pass. Scores of small business owners have been threatened with seizure for a private university in Harlem, for office space in Queens, and much else. As for the residents who live in the neighborhoods under siege, take the massive Atlantic Yards development in Downtown Brooklyn: Only 18 percent of residents polled by The New York Times said they favored it if required the demolition of homes and businesses.62 Bruce Ratner, a friend and neighbor of the mayor, is developing the giant project. He has become very wealthy using government money to build his city projects over the years. The taxpayers don’t fare as well. According to a report by the Independent Budget Office, the city will sink $169 million in subsidies in the Atlantic Yards project over 30 years and will get back only $130 million in increased tax revenue.63 New York law makes it easy to condemn property, and instead of negotiating in good faith, the mayor encourages city agencies to team up with private developers against local property owners. The developers leverage the agency’s eminent domain powers to seize homes and businesses for hugely profitable development projects. Not surprisingly, the mayor’s appointees and the developers are among the mayor’s most enthusiastic supporters. “Other people’s land has become just one more political favor to be passed out. In recent years, New York lower courts have turned a blind eye to the enormous benefits to private developers, outrageous behavior on the part of government bureaucrats, and even blatant evidence that the project will be a miserable flop.” So says Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. Need another example of the mayor’s abuse? Here’s Tom Angotti reporting about the Bronx Terminal Market in 2005:
61 62

http://www.gothamgazette.com/blogs/wonkster/2009/10/08/5473/ Cardwell, Diane. "Bloomberg Says Power to Seize Private Land is Vital to Cities," The New York Times, May 3, 2006 63 Durkin, Erin. "Report: City may lose 40M in Atlantic Yards plan -- Total subsidies $726M,"The Daily News, Sept. 11, 2009

This month the City Planning Commission is poised to approve the conversion of the Bronx Terminal Market into a million-square-foot shopping mall for big-box retailers. The Related Company bought the lease to the city-owned land under the market with the idea of evicting the 23 retailers on the site and building what they call a “gateway” to the Bronx. As reported in the Village Voice and the New York Times, Related boss Stephen Ross is a friend of the mayor and former business partner of Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, who once consulted with Ross about development of the site. Not only did the city offer Related tax incentives, taxfree Liberty Bonds, low-interest loans, and $14 million in cash; they promised they would reimburse the developer for the cost of the lease if it didn’t get the zoning changes it needed. This is a bold use of the mayor’s power, and the taxpayer's money, to undermine the ULURP process and everyone who has a role in it—community boards, borough presidents, the City Planning Commission and City Council. It’s not as if the community boards and borough presidents have much to say anyway, because their votes are advisory. The local community board and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion approved the project with conditions, but at the end of the day they won’t be standing in front of the bulldozers. The planning commission never votes against the mayor, who appoints the majority of its members.64 THE SPIN You would never build any big thing any place in any big city in this country if you didn't have the power of eminent domain," Mr. Bloomberg said, speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony in Times Square, which was redeveloped in part through government condemnation of private property. "You wouldn't have a job, neither would anybody else standing here today. None of us would.65 THE FACTS The practice of demolishing homes has become so common here in recent years that the New York metropolitan region overtook Chicago as the “teardown capital of the United States,” according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Trust’s running tally of neighborhoods where a significant number of teardowns have been occurring includes 18 communities in Queens, the entire borough of Staten Island and a handful of neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx.66

64

Angotti, Tom. "Bronx Terminal Market and the Subverting of the Land Use Review Process," Gotham Gazette, Dec. 2005 65 Cardwell, Diane. "Bloomberg Says Power to Seize Private Land is Vital to Cities," The New York Times, May 3, 2006 66 Reviving the City of Aspiration, p. 29

Here are some of our other neighborhoods under siege: Coney Island: A new plan will reduce amusement park space to a narrow 9-acre strip, create incentives for the destruction of landmarks such as Nathan’s Famous and build new housing developments that will be unaffordable for the average Coney Island resident. See the case study below. Chinatown: A city rezoning plan is pushing out low-income New Yorkers and small businesses. One particular complaint is the continued closure of Park Row, a rezoning plan that is said to have caused the eviction of dozens of long-time residents and increases in rent and water rates.67 West Harlem: Columbia University is planning a $5 billion, 18-acre expansion into West Harlem, where long-time family businesses and homes stand. Bloomberg supports the expansion. In 2008 the Empire State Development Corporation declared the area “blighted” and began the process of eminent domain. Neighborhood businesses have refused to be extorted from their property for the sake of another private interest. They are in court. But New York courts have been notorious in giving the city virtual carte blanche in the use of its eminent domain powers. Norman Siegel, the attorney for some of the Harlem property owners, explained, “Nobody’s opposed to Columbia expanding. They’re opposed to eminent domain.” The Fashion District: The blocks from 34th to 40th Streets between Broadway and Ninth Avenue, known as the Fashion District, is in danger of disappearing. Bloomberg is considering a plan that would give garment manufacturers space in one or two large buildings, while the rest of the area would be up for grabs by developers.68 Willets Point: In November 2004, officials issued a “request for expressions of interest” from developers. Willets Point is a 62-acre area east of what was then Shea Stadium. Known as the “Iron Triangle,” it is home to a mix of industrial businesses, including auto parts stores and repair shops, sewer parts manufacturing, and a spice manufacturer. Now, with the newly constructed CitiField stadium across the street, the administration is pursuing a redevelopment plan via eminent domain. The basis for the administration’s blight designation is the lack of sewer, electric and garbage services, which the city itself has refused to provide for decades. Understandably, the property owners who have paid taxes for decades and received nothing in return object. “This is more than just wrong,” said Dan Feinstein, the third-generation owner of Feinstein Ironworks. “We’re not going to let someone steal our livelihoods so developers can come in and make billions at our expense.” As with other developments, the mayor says "one person can't be allowed to hold up progress." The one person though is Bloomberg, and it’s his definition of progress that counts. His administration negotiated with only a handful of the largest property owners and gave them deals. The overwhelming majority of owners—more than 50 out of the original 70—were offered nothing. It’s the Bloomberg Way.
67 68

http://ny1.com/1-all-boroughs-news-content/top_stories/106560/bloomberg-met-with-protest-in-chinatown/ Nanette Lepore and Robert Savage. "The Fabric of New York," The New York Times, Sept. 6, 2009

CASE STUDY: CONEY ISLAND THE SPIN The City's plan will create a world-class recreation destination.69 THE FACTS The plan has reduced the area devoted to open-air amusements from 60 acres to a narrow 9-acre strip, an area too small to fit the rides necessary to create a major amusement destination. To date, land speculation trigged by the rezoning has resulted in the closure of the largest amusement park in Coney Island since 1964, and reduced active amusements from 16 acres to less than 5 acres.70 THE SPIN The Bloomberg administration's plan will maintain Coney Island's character and culture.71 THE FACTS By dramatically upzoning Surf Avenue, the plan creates an incentive for the destruction of some of Coney Island's few remaining historic buildings, including Nathan's Famous.72 THE SPIN The City's plan will protect the amusement area in perpetuity by designating it parkland.73 THE FACTS The rezoning has eliminated over 60% of the area zoned for amusements, and the administration has yet to create a single acre of parkland for amusement uses or otherwise. THE SPIN The City's plan was the result of countless meetings with the public. THE FACTS

69 70

http://www.thecidc.org/Planning/RezoningPlan.html http://mas.org/images/press-releases/Coney%20Island%20Next%20Steps%20Press%20Release%201-14-09.pdf 71 http://www.thecidc.org/Planning/RezoningPlan.html 72 http://www.nyc.gov/html/oec/html/ceqr/08dme007K_DEIS.shtml 73 http://www.thecidc.org/Planning/RezoningPlan.html

The City changed the plan that came out of public meetings after discussions with the land speculator Thor Equities. It introduced high-rise hotels and a 6-story indoor shopping area into land owned by Thor, land that in the original plan was to be devoted to outdoor amusements.74 THE SPIN The City's plan will create jobs for the local residents.75 THE FACTS The City's plan has thus far resulted in the loss of over 300 amusement jobs, as a result of rezoning-induced land speculation. The jobs that the City envisions for the community are lowpaying service jobs that will emerge, if ever, in ten to fifteen years.76 THE SPIN The City's plan will provide affordable housing for the local community.77 THE FACTS Most of the affordable housing in the City's plan would be unaffordable to the average Coney Island resident.78 CASE STUDY: ATLANTIC YARDS “If I lived here maybe I wouldn’t like it either.” – Mayor Bloomberg in The New York Times, October 12, 2005 THE SPIN Not one cent of public money will be spent on sports stadiums or arenas. — Michael Bloomberg campaigning for Mayor in 2001 THE FACTS Bloomberg has spent nearly $2 billion in taxpayer subsidies and breaks to fund the construction of two baseball stadiums (Yankees Stadium and the Mets’ CitiField). The Public Authorities Control Board rejected his attempt to construct a taxpayer-funded stadium for the Jets on
74

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2008/06/19/2008-0619_coney_island_surf_should_remain_working_.html 75 http://www.thecidc.org/Planning/RezoningPlan.html 76 http://www.nyc.gov/html/oec/html/ceqr/08dme007K_DEIS.shtml http://www.brooklynonline.com/bkln.news/coney-island/astroland-closes.xhtml 77 http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/coney_island/index.shtml 78 http://realestate.nytimes.com/community/coney-island-brooklyn-ny-usa/demographics http://www.nyc.gov/html/oec/html/ceqr/08dme007K_DEIS.shtml

Manhattan’s West Side For six years he has fought for approval of Forest City Ratner’s sole source contract for Barclays Center Arena, part of the gigantic and embattled Atlantic Yards development proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. THE SPIN Any city monies of any meaningful size will be debt issues financed by the extra tax revenues that come from Forest City Ratner’s basketball arena. — Michael Bloomberg January 2004 radio interview THE FACTS Bloomberg is giving Ratner at least $205 million in direct cash subsidies. The subsidies, tax breaks, abatements and tax-exempt savings add up to $726 million—just for the arena. The NYC Independent Budget Office’s September 2009 fiscal analysis concludes that the City will lose $40 million over 30 years and an additional $180 million in opportunity costs. THE SPIN I’m violently opposed to community benefits agreements. A small group of people, to feather their own nests, extort money from the developer? That’s just not good government. — Michael Bloomberg, August 2009 THE FACTS In June 2005 Bloomberg presided over the signing ceremony for Bruce Ratner’s faulty and controversial Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement. When asked by a reporter if the agreement was legally binding (it isn’t), Bloomberg said: “I would add something else—even more importantly, you have Bruce Ratner’s word. That should be enough for you and for everybody else in the community.” THE SPIN There will be no more direct subsidies for the Atlantic Yards project. — Michael Bloomberg, May 2009 THE FACTS Bloomberg has committed the city to a blank check for the project to pay for so-called “extraordinary infrastructure costs.” In June 2009, Bloomberg’s appointees to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority pushed through a revised deal for the 9-acre rail yard Ratner is trying to purchase. The revised deal would cut the initial payment by Forest City Ratner by $80 million and give him 22 years to pay

the rest (at a low 6.5% interest rate), as well as permission to build a smaller rail yard than promised in 2005. THE SPIN A small group of people stalled [Atlantic Yards] so long [that] the economy is different. — Michael Bloomberg, August 2009 THE FACTS Over 50 community, civic and good government organizations oppose the Atlantic Yards project. Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which has led the fight over six years, has well over 4,500 individual donors who sustain DDDB’s work. The “small group” is Michael Bloomberg, David Paterson, and Bruce Ratner. THE SPIN Why is there a structure at the state level where three individuals basically have a veto over everything? This PC, PSA, whatever the board is that approves it. And I'm not sure why that's constitutional. Maybe somebody wants to look at that. I don’t happen to think that it’s good democracy to give the governor, the speaker of the assembly, and the majority leader in the senate—no matter who they are, whether they agree with me or not—that’s not representative democracy, that’s not letting everybody have a say, because in fact, it isn’t everybody.” — Michael Bloomberg, October 2006 commenting on the three state officials who control the Public Authorities Control Board that provided the only political approval for Atlantic Yards. THE FACTS Bloomberg signed over the City’s right to oversight and review of Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, the largest mixed-use development proposal in the history of New York City, to the unaccountable and unelected Empire State Development Corporation and the “undemocratic” PACB.

CHAPTER TEN
The Arrogant Mega-Billionaire Mayor Thinks We’re Stupid
Michael Bloomberg’s candidacy and his eight years in office represent a radical departure from and a challenge to the rule of law and the consent of the governed. The forms have been observed, but only the forms. And they have been used to ignore the will of the voters. This election is a watershed moment in New York history. The Bloomberg story line was that the economic meltdown required “continuity of leadership,” as though that were sufficient justification for overturning the results of two elections. That’s his story and he’s sticking with it. If the lie wasn’t already apparent, when we consider that New York City survived September 11 without the continuity of Rudy Giuliani’s leadership (he tried to extend his term), the brazenness of that lie smacks you in the face. The point need not be argued, however. As Joyce Purnick’s recent biography makes clear, the meltdown excuse was just another Bloomberg lie. Here is Tom Robbins writing for the Village Voice on September 29, 2009: [Joyce Purnick’s] book makes clear that many months before economic disaster struck in September 2008—the crisis that Bloomberg said prompted his reversal on term limits—the mayor was already pondering the move. Purnick says that a few weeks after Bloomberg's February 28, 2008, announcement that he would not seek the presidency, she asked the mayor about then-vague rumors that he was looking for a way to run for mayor again. It was clear he had given a third term some thought," she writes. The mayor told her that "the mechanics" of such a bid were "difficult" because he would need the backing of the city's daily papers. Bloomberg told her that he knew he could count on Post publisher Rupert Murdoch and the Daily News' Mort Zuckerman. But he was in the midst of saying he was "uncertain about Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr." when a press aide cut him off, insisting that the rest of the conversation had to be off the record. That spring, Bloomberg commissioned a poll on public attitudes about changing term limits. Purnick confirms that it showed that voters were likely to vote thumbs down on any move to change term limits in a new referendum. [Emphasis ours] Other hints of the mayor's pre-crisis calculations came from her interviews with mega-millionaires who were urging Bloomberg to run again. In July, Bloomberg attended the annual tycoons' retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho. There, Purnick writes, Bloomberg mingled with Murdoch and other pro–third term chums, including investment mogul Henry Kravis and Time Warner's Richard Parsons.

The mayor was apparently treated to a full-court press from those moguls, who were in turn consulting with real estate big Jerry Speyer and investment strategist Steven Rattner, both of whom were aggressively pushing a third term. Purnick quotes one "business associate" saying that "they all came back from Sun Valley loaded for bear, sure he was going for it." Zuckerman, a key player in Bloomberg's strategy, told Purnick that the September market crash wasn't the reason. "No, it was not the economic crisis," the publisher and real estate magnate said. "He wanted to run for a third term. What else was he going to do? He loves being mayor.79 We agree with Zuckerman of course that the mayor’s demand for a third term had nothing to do with the economic crisis. We suspect it was more like a crisis of the libido.

79

http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-09-29/columns/bloomberg-s-term-limits-scheme/

There may be subtle distinctions between spinning and lying and gray areas wherein the truth of a thing is debatable, but as Justice Potter Stewart famously remarked about pornography, “I may not be able to define it but I know it when I see it,” Bloomberg is lying—plain and simple. As this document amply demonstrates, it’s hardly the first time. The difference here is that this lie isn’t a bogus statistic or a contrived statement about policies that benefit the middle class. This is about nullifying two elections. Finally, we don’t know whether the claim that the moguls were clamoring for a third term should be characterized as a lie or just a little spinning, but it does provide some insight into the mayor’s supporters and how he and they manipulate public opinion in their war on ordinary New Yorkers. Few things bring home the nature of the Bloomberg mayoral regime—designed to comfort the rich and afflict the poor and middle class—and the fraudulent nature of the Bloomberg campaign—progress not politics—than the October 2, 2008 letter that urged him to run for a third term. Here are the people who signed onto a letter urging Bloomberg to run, as investigated by Jarrett Murphy in a City Limits article titled, “Business Backers Rally Around Bloomberg Bid”:80 David Barger, CEO of Jet Blue, which opened a new terminal at JFK with $800 million in financing from the Port Authority and a $40 million "exempt facilities bond" from the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Candace K. Beinecke chairs a $45 billion investment fund, and is a trustee of Vornado Realty Trust. Stephen Berger runs Odyssey Investment Partners, a private equity firm that controls more than $1.4 billion in assets. Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. New building in Lower Manhattan received $650 million in New York subsidies. Firm underwrites city bonds. $73.72 million compensation package ranked eighth on the Forbes CEO Compensation index in 2008. Kevin Burke Con Ed CEO Russell L. Carson a general partner at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a private equity firm that specializes in buyouts and handles $16 billion in investments.

80

http://www.citylimits.org/content/articles/viewarticle.cfm?article_id=3628 Murphy provided thumbnail biographies. We've shortened and modified some of them slightly, and excluded the Democratic Party contributions many of the signers have made over the years as well as some other extraneous items. We'll stipulate that, like Bloomberg, most are “lifelong Democrats.” The longer biographies can be seen at the link above.

Kenneth I. Chenault is chairman and CEO of American Express. In 2007 he made $26.3 million. James Dimon is chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase—$29 billion in taxpayer guarantees—and a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A report by a committee of creditors set up to oversee the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy last week accused JPMorgan of causing the Lehman crisis by freezing Lehman funds that JPMorgan held. JPMorgan underwrites some city bonds. Barry M. Gosin is CEO of Newmark Knight Frank, one of the city's biggest commercial real estate firms. Since 2002, Newmark has done more than $30 million in business with the city. Jonathan N. Grayer is the chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., the instructional products company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Washington Post. According to city records, Kaplan has done $75 million in business with the city since 1999, most of it during the Bloomberg years. Susan L. Hayes runs Cauldwell Wingate Company, a major construction firm and sits on the mayor's Commission on Construction Opportunity. Glenn H. Hutchins is CEO of Silver Lake, a private investment firm. He sits on the board of directors of NASDAQ. Robert P. Kelly is chairman and CEO of the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. Henry A. Kissinger, the famed war criminal to some and all purpose guru to others. Founder of Kissinger and Associates, a lobbying firm. Henry R. Kravis is No. 49 on the Forbes list of richest Americans, with an estimated worth of $6.5 billion. He built his fortune in leveraged buyouts. Rochelle B. Lazarus, is the former chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, and a director of Merck and General Electric. Martin Lipton of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, of the top tier law firm that advises corporate chieftans on mergers, acquisitions, poison pills, and fighting shareholder efforts to reduce CEO compensation. Terry J. Lundgren, CEO of Macy's, $12 million a year. Interested in zoning issues. John J. Mack is the chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, which received $16 million in 9/11 funds and underwrites some city bonds.

Donald B. Marron runs Lightyear Capital, a private equity buyout firm. Richard D. Parsons, a lifelong associate of the Rockefeller family and early supporter of Giuliani, Parsons was the chairman of Time Warner. Steven Rattner manages the private equity firm Quadrangle Group (whose portfolio includes Cablevision) and is a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. David Rockefeller, the grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, was an officer of the Chase Manhattan Bank, founder of the Trilateral Commission and longtime chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. a billionaire vulture investor and West Virginia mine owner. He buys up small banks affected by the mortgage crisis. Steven Roth, 66, is chairman and CEO of Vornado Realty Trust, which built the new headquarters for Bloomberg LLP. One of the 400 richest Americans, Roth tried and failed to bring a Wal-Mart to Queens in 2004. His company has spent $366,000 lobbying City Council since 2002. Jerry I. Speyer is the Chairman and CEO of Tishman Speyer, the development and real estate giant that owns the MetLife and Chrysler buildings and Rockefeller Center. He bought Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village with the idea of emptying out rent regulated tenants and taking the complex to market rents. The firm is in litigation with tenants. James S. Tisch, CEO of Loews Corporation, a holding company that owns controlling shares in, among other firms, the insurance giant CNA Financial Corporation,, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Loews Hotels, etc. Tim Zagat co-founded Zagat restaurant survey. Strauss Zelnick is the founder of ZelnickMedia, a private equity firm that buys media companies. He's the former CEO of BMG Entertainment. Mortimer B. Zuckerman is the publisher of the Daily News and the chairman of Boston Properties, which owns more than 5 million square feet of office space. Bloomberg’s political operatives—the handsomely paid hired help—rounded up the moguls, put the letter in front of them, and asked them to sign it. It was a variation of the faux draft: Bloomberg and the Boyz—spinning, spinning, spinning.

Chapter Eleven
Will He Love Us In December as He Does Today? Don’t Count on it.
The Independent Budget Office concluded its recent analysis of the City’s fiscal condition with the following observation: Given that this a municipal election year, the difficult decisions about spending cuts and tax increases that lie ahead are unlikely to be addressed until November. During the 2001 election, Bloomberg ran on a "no new taxes" platform. During his first year in office, Bloomberg proposed a 25 percent increase in the property tax. The City Council approved 18.5 percent, the largest property tax increase in city history. Granted 9/11 changed everything, but so does the current the financial crisis. Bloomberg had nothing to do with the former, but much to do with the City’s dire position today. He squandered the greatest boom years in New York’s history. The debt and expenses have ballooned, the jobs have been lost, and the small businesses have been shuttered. We are in the midst of a 9/11 economic crisis caused by his cronies and exacerbated by his policies, and this time we know it before the election. THE SPIN We can get through the next fiscal year without any tax increases in this city. It is going to require everybody pulling together. We are going to have to find ways to do more with less. We’re going to have to decide that we can’t do everything. But I don’t think that the taxpayers can really stand any more taxes at any level, whether they're starting up the economic ladder or they're at the top of the economic ladder. We don’t want more jobkilling taxes.81 THE FACTS The state will be no help. New York State’s tax receipts were down 7.7 percent in September compared to the same month in 2008. Tax revenues fell far below the forecast in the First Quarterly Update to the 2009-10 state Financial Plan, which had envisioned a net decrease of less than 0.6 percent in “all funds” tax revenues. It was the biggest drop in September tax collections since 2001. The state had projected a 13.5 percent decline in tax revenues for the first six months of fiscal 2009-10 from the same period in fiscal 2008-09. Actual first-half revenues fell 16.7 percent, an additional shortfall of $962 million. The current year’s budget deficit has grown to $3 billion from the $2.1 billion projected in July.82 On November 4th we will know whether William Thompson will be left with the unenviable job of trying to clean up the mess – think George Bush and President Obama – or whether New Yorkers will have reelected the man who did so much to make it. In either case, New Yorkers
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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election_2009/2009/10/13/2009-1013_mayor_bloomberg_william_thompson_trade_jabs_on_eve_of_debate.html 82 McMahon, E.J. “September Song,” http://www.nyfiscalwatch.com/?p=2017#more-2017

who least can afford it will suffer the most. It feels a lot like New York City’s last fiscal crisis in 1975, only worse. In the spirit of Santayana’s famous observation that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," it’s instructive to recall how that crisis was created and how it was resolved. In February 1975, New York’s Urban Development Corporation defaulted on the so-called moral obligation bonds it had issued to finance 35,000 units of moderate-income housing. The city was at the mercy of its bankers, a very bad place to be. After the bankers had quietly rid themselves of $2.3 billion worth of city paper, much of it sold to their own customers, they shut the city out of the short-term credit market. By June 1975, the debt was $11 billion, about $5 billion in shortterm notes. New York was in full fiscal crisis.The city couldn’t make its payroll and the hapless Abe Beame had run out of time and budget gimmicks. Lawyers drew up the bankruptcy papers. But nobody could predict the consequences of the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history. Would businesses flee and further shrink the tax base? Could services be delivered? What about welfare payments? Would a bankruptcy judge declare that the firemen, cops, sanitation workers, teachers, and other vital employees had to be paid ahead of creditors? Politicians might go to jail and bondholders might throw themselves out of windows, but they wouldn’t riot. The folks whose lives depended on a weekly check very well might. Today, we are lucky to have Barrack Obama holding his finger in the dike. Then, it was Gerald Ford, by all accounts not a bad or prideful man, but a president with a different mind set. DROP DEAD Ford never uttered the words, but the infamous Daily News headline Ford to City: Drop Dead captured the antagonism of the administration in Washington as well as many citizens across the country who viewed New York as Sodom and Gomorrah. On September 9, 1975, the state took formal control of city finances through a newly created entity established in Albany and run by investment banker Felix Rohatyn and a small group of the city’s financial elite. Ford agreed to last-minute federal loans and guarantees. In addition to investing the pension fund monies, the municipal unions took large layoffs, primarily to protect the wages and pensions of those who weren’t laid off. Some unions did take bigger pay cuts to hold on to workers; but layoffs were the rule. Minorities were disproportionately affected by seniority rules. There were severe service cutbacks as well. From every perspective, those who had nothing to do with creating the crisis suffered the most.

More than a century of free tuition at CUNY ended. The City fired tens of thousands of workers and sharply reduced pension and other benefits for future employees. The subway fare was increased. Maintenance on roads, bridges, streets, parks, water and sewer systems—virtually all infrastructure projects—were deferred. Today, bond analysts are poised to downgrade the debt backing the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority, citing an “increasingly constrained financial and operating profile.” In addition to Bloomberg’s policy of short changing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, this new development threatens MTA’s $400 million annual subsidy from Triborough’s bridges and tunnels. Fitch’s analysts point out that Triborough needs four percent annual growth “or more” to support these “historically essential annual transfers” to the MTA,” and it also needs such growth to support $1 to $2 billion that Triborough needs in new debt to support its own repairs. Triborough, which also runs the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, seems to have hit the wall on how much additional revenue it can raise from hiking tolls. Four colorBloomberg campaign brochures won’t cut it.83 In 1975, the city closed hospitals and medical clinics; it reduced library hours, and cut services to the bone. Physically and politically New York became a very different city. And that’s what we’re staring at today. Analysts have examined the causes of the crisis from every conceivable angle. Then as now, the explanations coincided with the ideologies of the explainers, and the solutions served the agendas of those who had the leverage to impose them: the business and banking elite. The miscreants who had reaped the profits in the good times and who had done so much to trigger the crisis, emerged financially whole and were now in charge. Sound familiar? We will be hearing about tightening our belts, service reductions, layoffs and pension cuts, but the pain felt by the Wall Street swinging dick whose bonus may be seven rather than eight figures won’t compare to what the rest of us are in for—and under Bloomberg the Wall Streeter will be promoted as a savior. Neither his bloated income nor his stock transactions can be taxed lest we lose his patronage. THE SPENDING GAME Then as now, the crisis was attributed to politically and ideologically motivated spending, with municipal labor agreements, antipoverty and social welfare programs topping the list. Republicans claimed that liberal politicians (i.e. John Lindsay and the Democrats) caused the crisis by forging a political coalition with municipal unions. Lindsay, it was said, drove the middle class out of the city. The reasons the middle class left the city beginning in the 1950s had

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Gelinas, Nicole. "Cry-borough Bridge," http://www.nyfiscalwatch.com/?p=1877

nothing to do with John Lindsay, but the reasons they are leaving today have everything to do with Michael Bloomberg.84 Nelson Rockefeller’s massive borrowing and building programs were far more important in causing the crisis; as with Bloomberg today, it was barely mentioned. Then, as now, the borrowing was arranged through tricky financial instruments. They were known as moral obligation bonds, called such because they were not backed by the state’s full faith and credit but by the claimed moral obligation of the legislature to repay the bondholders should the projects for which the bonds were issued fall short of their revenue projections. Bloomberg has done something very similar via a multibillion dollar off the books borrowing program. Ultimately, the developers and financial houses will benefit and the taxpayers will pay. Then as now the scheme was held to be legal. The politically wired law firms made a lot of money to say so, as did the underwriters who sold the bonds, the bankers who financed the projects, the lobbyists who worked the politicians, the accountants, appraisers, developers, and all the other insiders. Many in the press praised Rockefeller. He was the indispensable man. Sound familiar? Buried in the archives of the state library system is a 1976 Moreland Act Commission report that made it clear what had actually occurred.85 The introduction of the moral obligation concept by the HFA in 1960 for housing projects, the explosive expansion of the HFA role beyond housing to hospitals, universities and mental institutions in the 1960’s, and the extension of the moral obligation concept to UDC in 1968, resulted in a vast accumulation of financial risks for the State of New York.86 The problem with that account was that it made it seem as though the bureaucrats had made the decisions. In 1976, the state legislature banned further issues of moral obligation debt. But the off budget borrowing continued, and beginning on November 4th no matter who wins, the bills will have to be paid. The difference between Bloomberg and Thompson will be who pays them. Sadly, even getting rid of Bloomberg doesn’t mean the average New Yorker won’t suffer, but maybe will suffer just a little less.
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The total pay and benefits package for municipal employees had an impact on the city’s 1975 financial condition. Health and welfare expenses, together with municipal labor costs, accounted for about half the city’s expense budget. For the ten years before the crisis, municipal wages rose 10.4 percent annually compared to 6.9 percent in the nine other largest cities. But New York’s cost of living was 15 percent higher than in those cities. Today, the disparity is far greater.
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Report to the Governor by the New York State Moreland Act Commission on the Urban Development Corporation and Other State Financing Agencies, Restoring Credit and Confidence: A Reform Program for New York State and Its Public Authorities, 31 March 1976. Richard Meislin, “State Foreclosing 3 Projects Of Mitchell-Lama Housing,” New York Times, 6 December 1979. 86 In 1984, the State Legislative Commission on Expenditure and Review reported that as of July 31, 1984, 269 developments still had arrears of $473 million, including $338 million in moral obligation debt service arrears. The state had to appropriate $112 million for HFA debt service, and HFA contributed $23 million of its own funds to meet debt service requirements.

Who Is to Blame? In much the same way that today’s Republican Party seeks to divert blame from those who caused the crisis to those who were victimized by it, Roger Starr, the conservative, real estate oriented head of the city’s Housing and Development Administration, blamed the tenants. Few have noted the crucial element in the crisis: the city’s and the state’s willingness to use public credit to finance housing without realizing that if users of the housing do not fully pay for the public credit they benefit from, the taxpayers will have to do their paying for them.87 As Starr saw it, the ungrateful tenants were to blame. Fair enough; tenants did benefit from affordable housing. Starr had nothing to say about the lawyers, bankers, builders, politicians, lobbyists, and all the other insiders who plundered the programs, or the developers who received massive property tax abatements and subsidies, or the politicians who lowered assessments on office towers and commercial developments and in return doled out the campaign contributions to the compliant politicians. If ungrateful tenants, undeserving poor, greedy municipal workers, and the liberal politicians who pandered to them were to blame, what to do about the problem? Simple–get rid of the poor people. We should not encourage people to stay where their job possibilities are daily becoming more remote. Stop the Puerto Ricans and rural blacks from living in the city…reverse the role of the city…it can no longer be the place of opportunity…our urban system is based on the theory of taking the peasant and turning him into an industrial worker. Now there are no industrial jobs. Why not keep him a peasant? Starr’s was the voice of hard-bitten realism, the adult who speaks truths to the powerful; that they are at best half-truths that the powerful want to hear is all to the good. Starr joined the New York Times editorial board, and became one of the city’s most important housing and urban policy voices. He advocated “planned shrinkage,” urging transit, sanitation, police and fire protection cutbacks in poor neighborhoods. Michael Bloomberg is pursuing a variation of that policy. We’ve had eight years of managing the city for the investment bankers, hedge fund artists, leveraged buyout vultures, predatory equity scamsters, and all the rest of “Mike’s” cronies. We won’t hear much about them during campaign season; it’s all middle class voters now, but after November 3 the draconian measures required to balance the City’s budget will make life even more miserable for average New Yorkers. “Mike” Bloomberg Progress. Not Politics.

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Roger Starr, The Rise and Fall of New York City (New York: Basic Books, 1985), pp. 226–29. Roger Starr’s planned shrinkage policy is quoted in Charles Kaiser, “Blacks and Puerto Ricans, a Bronx Majority,” New York Times, 19 April 1976, p. 23; see also Starr’s defense, “Making New York Smaller,” New York Times Magazine, 14 November1976

Editors: Neil Fabricant and Mike Dang, BloombergWatch.com, Fedupnewyorkers.org Contributors Include: Dan Goldstein, co-founder, Develop Don’t Destroy Ben Kabak, Transit Blogger, Second Ave. Sagas Judi Francis, president of the Park Defense Fund Jessica Shiller, assistant professor of education at Lehman College, CUNY Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club